As no stranger to adversity, it seems Titus has had his back against the wall his entire life. He was born to an 11-year-old child who was tragically raped by her mother’s boyfriend. People were telling this young girl to abort the baby, but she refused. However, the strong will of his barely teen mom paved the way for the mental fortitude of her son.
Titus grew up extremely poor and as a teen began to get into a lot of trouble. People would often tell him that he'd wind up either dead or in jail by the time he was 16, but he didn't, and it is here that his story becomes one of determination and against all odds grit.
He was blessed with many opportunities by people who genuinely showed interest and cared for his life. These people, along with a growing faith in God, slowly turned Titus into the person he was destined to be.
"Faith has guided me as a professional athlete, in the same way, it has provided for me as a man," said Titus. "In sports, we have times that we have adversity to overcome."
He continued, "The great thing about my faith is it works in any and every arena. It's the same way in life. I've been in some of the worst situations in life I feel, and my faith has brought me through all of that because I've seen God's hand in my life at each turn. It's a lot easier for me to deal with things because of God's hand."
And how exactly does Titus "deal with things?" Well, he deals with it the only way he knows how, by giving back.
The 6'4 athlete has always had a heart as big as his frame. He makes it his mission to feed homeless people, help care for the elderly, and work with communities to improve their quality. Now, his fame, allows him to do it on a much broader level.
"It's not hard at all because I have not always had this platform that I am on now. Regardless of the platform, I've had, you can ask anyone I've gone to high school with or college, time and time again, so many people invested in me to which I could give them nothing in return that I feel I owe it to those people," he shared. "I owe it to the people who are constantly praying for me, I owe it to every person that I have encountered in my past that has positively affected my life, I owe it to the person who worked so hard and prayed so hard for the person I was to become."
A graduate of the University of Florida, there are still programs that Titus helped launch as the student body president. There are mentorship programs, and he even saved a museum from closing and put in place programs to keep it open.
"I always had a heart for people and that heart comes from knowing why I'm here. There is nothing anyone can say that can tell me different now," he said.
As with most things in life, it seems something negative always creeps in when things are going perfectly. This recently happened to Titus after he was handed a suspension for inappropriate behavior at a Monday Night Raw event. In a quick video clip, you can see that Titus appears to grab chairman and CEO Vince McMahon as he is walking past him. McMahon is then seen pushing O'Neil off of him and words are exchanged. The cameras then cut out.
The next day it was leaked out that Titus had been suspended 90 days, now rescinded to 60. Multiple sources have stated, Titus had grabbed Vince in a playful manner, perhaps horsing around and said: "ladies first." McMahon was walking side by side with his daughter Stephanie. Apparently, the chairman did not take too kindly to it. Titus himself did not clarify exactly how and why it occurred but took some valuable lessons from it.
"I always believe in all things there's always positives in it," said Titus who now has some extra time to spend with his family, go to his son's games, see friends, and his mom more. "I made a mistake at an inopportune time. Regardless if it was too harsh or overreacting or whatever people have deemed it, it all stems from my mistake. Whether I agree with it or not, I am owning it. I'm doing what I'd normally do in any other situation."
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He's gotten support from fans, entertainers, media outlets, and all walks of life that are fans of him as a person and his character. "People who probably weren't interested in me as a WWE superstar, are now interested in me as a man and a father...I'll just take this punishment just like everything else, take a lemon and make lemonade," he shared.
Titus admitted that some of his close friends told him he should just walk away from the business. "They're right," O'Neil said. "I can go and coach, I can do a lot of stuff, but at the end of the day, I've never quit on anything in my entire life."
The former football player is a father of two young African-American sons and wishes to bring them up as more than just men of color. Titus said he’s raising them to have integrity and to keep their word and to finish things no matter how hard they are. If he was to quit, it would go against what he's trying to teach his sons. There are also people that look to O’Neil for strength and encouragement. “'If that guy can get through that, I can get through what I'm going through,’,” he said.
"I don't have a quit button in me,” said the sports entertainer. “I've been homeless, I've been beaten, I've been lied to, I've been persecuted more ways than one and I'm still here. There's nothing in this world that can stop me from what God has called me to do."
Right now he's in WWE, which is something he never expected. Titus knows it won't last forever, and when his contract is up, he’s done with wrestling.
Pro wrestling was a “leap of faith” for him. He didn’t grow up idolizing the greats and never wanted to become one. However, he is grateful for the opportunity and knows he was given a blessing.
“I see now that people are rooting for me to be more successful than I am in this business,” he revealed. “I’m going to finish out my contract and see what happens from there.”
For now, Titus O’Neil will take this obstacle and look back at it like all the other hurdles he’s already cleared. He’ll take note, and jot it down as just another chapter in his book of life (one that he is in the process of writing by the way).
For more with WWE superstar Titus O’Neil, read part two to hear about his love for Christian music, things he’s grateful for, and the love that binds everyone together.