By Portia Williams
The gymnasium was engulfed in silence when Ted DiBiase, former World Wrestling Federation (WWF) wrestler known as ‘The Million Dollar Man,’ spoke to the Portsmouth Junior High School student body on Friday about the importance of making good choices.
The presentation began with a slideshow of DiBiase in action during his WWF wrestling career. DiBiase has battled against some of the biggest names in the wrestling industry, including Hulk Hogan. At the inception of his message, he went directly to the crux of the matter, that life is all about choices.
“The bottom line is this. All of us are the sum total of the choices that we make, and you right now, while you’re in junior high school, the choices that you make are going to follow you the rest of your life,” DiBiase said. “Choices about your education, drugs and alcohol, sexual activity, the whole nine yards.”
How one responds in times of adversity is the greater issue, he said.
“If you find yourself in a bad situation, in a bad set of circumstances, we’re either going to use those bad circumstances as a crutch, as an excuse, a cop-out if you will, to down a bad road,” he said.
He said he travels extensively to schools and detention centers to challenge youth with his message about choices.
“I don’t just speak to students in high schools, I go to juvenile detention centers, and I hear stories from kids from all over the country,” he said. “We don’t get choose to born into rich family, or a poor family, or whether we are born black or white. Whatever situation you find yourself in, you have to choose how you’re going to respond.”
DiBiase told the group that he became involved with the WWF through his stepfather, who was a professional wrestler. It was his stepfather that taught him that following the crowd is easy.
“He said what is tough to do is to stand up and determine what you want to do, and what you want to be in life, be willing to make the sacrifices and achieve the goals that you set in your life,” he said. “Instead of following like a blind sheep, be the head and not the tail, lead and don’t follow, and I never forgot that.”
He talked about his experiences throughout his years in school, and the challenges of peer pressure, bullying, and the turning point that his life took after the death of his stepfather who had been such an inspiration to him in his life, and the pain of watching his mother turn into an alcoholic.
“Something that my stepfather told me is that bullies are cowards. All bullies are cowards, because they never pick on anyone their own size, they always go to the smaller prey, or they run in packs,” he said.
With dreams of playing college football, and becoming either a professional football player, or wrestler, he said he learned that life is more than mere recreation, and shared this realization with some of his closest friends.
“I told them, you have to realize that life is more than just getting drunk and having a good time, and driving a cool car,” he said. “I said, I might not make it to Division I football, but I am going to do something, I am going to go somewhere. I am going to get a scholarship.”
It is through courage, discipline, and will power that he said enabled him to succeed.
“Young people, what I am trying to share with you this morning is this, dream your dream,” he said. “You can be anything that you want be if you are willing to work hard and make the sacrifices that are necessary. And don’t stay around negative people that are constantly saying you can’t, you can’t you can’t, because you know what, can’t never did anything. The only ones that will tell you that you can’t are the ones who do not have the courage or discipline to do it themselves.”
DiBiase’s visit to PJHS was made possible through Tim Roth, Senior Pastor at Cornerstone United Methodist Church(UMC) in Portsmouth. DiBiase will be the featured guest speaker for two services at Cornerstone UMC Sunday, Sept. 27, at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.