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Sure, WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil looks tough. Very, very tough. But the Florida athlete and dad of two boys puts kindness at the top of his to-do list every single day.
Whether he’s handing out bicycles at his church’s toy drive or quietly supporting a family whose 3-year-old died of cancer, O’Neil’s drive to give back is almost as powerful as his signature "Clash of the Titus" finishing move.
Read on for his five rules for giving back — not just during the holidays, but every day.
1. Pay it forward.
“People invested in me at a young age when they had nothing to gain in return. I come from a single-parent home, and my mom was a very, very young parent. I went a place called the Florida Sheriffs' Youth Ranch, and had it not been for the kindness and love and care of people from all walks of life, I would not have had the opportunity to be in the position I’m in today. The more successful I became, I was repaying the investment people made in me when they didn’t have to.”
2. Live it year ‘round.
“I tell my kids all the time: ‘Don’t be like me. Be better than me.’ Sometimes parents tell their kids to do one thing, and then they see them do the complete opposite, and that’s confusing. If I’m telling my children to respect other people and to love other people, if they don’t see me doing that, how can I expect that of them? I’m their first role model, regardless if I’m a WWE superstar, pro athlete, or a school teacher. And we should be the one that our kids want to emulate.”
3. Show your kids the world.
“Don’t isolate your kids to the neighborhood or the school or the sports that they play. Expose them to homelessness. Expose them to pediatric cancer, so they not only know what it is, but they also see firsthand how just saying hello or giving people a hug or giving a homeless person a sandwich can change a life in that one instance.”
4. Help however you can.
“About a year and a half ago, I met a boy with cancer named Logan Larrabee, a huge WWE fan. He wanted to meet John Cena, but he was traveling. I ended up staying for three hours and four hours after I left, the kid passed away.
I’ve never lost a child. So when the dad called, I asked if there was anything I could do. Logan had three brothers, so I told him, 'Meet me with your other three boys.’ I had them stay the night over my house, play in the pool, and I took them to the movies while their parents made funeral arrangements. We’re all still friends to this day.”
5. Stay humble.
“I’m accustomed to sharing because my family was all we had. We had to learn how to live off a little. There were times we didn’t have much food, and we lived in an apartment in the projects. There’s nothing wrong with coming from humble beginnings; it’s remaining humble and remembering that when you’re walking past people in the street. Rather than shying away from people, when I see them I hug them or I tell them hello or I pray for them. It’s just in me.”
Catch Titus on the WWE's Tribute to the Troops, airing Wednesday, December 23 from 8-10 pm ET on USA Network.