This post is syndicated from the Huffington Post, published June 11, 2014.
While my fans may know me as a larger-than-life WWE Superstar who takes no mercy in the ring, one thing they may not know about me is that outside the ring, I am a loving, proud, hands-on father of two wonderful sons, TJ and Titus. Fatherhood is a responsibility that I take very seriously but it is also my greatest honor and something I look forward to every single day.
I never knew my father growing up. My mother had me at a very young age and my biological father played no role in my life. We had little money, and I grew up living in government-assisted housing next door to gangs and drugs dealers. At age 13, I saw one of my friend’s dad get shot in a drug deal gone bad. After that, I moved to Live Oak, Florida to the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch where I not only learned discipline, but I also learned the value and strength of family by having strong parental role models to take after. From then on, I made up my mind that when I have children of my own, my number-one priority would be that they knew I was their father and that I was going to stay in their lives. Since then, I have done my best to stay true to that commitment each and every day.
With Father’s Day coming up, my fellow WWE Superstar dads — Alberto Del Rio and Roman Reigns — and I, are joining the Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse to launch a new series of public service ads that encourage dads to recognize their critical role and inspire a nationwide commitment to fatherhood. The campaign urges fathers to visit www.fatherhood.gov or to call 1-877-4DAD411 to get information about how to become more involved with their children’s lives, including parenting tips, fatherhood programs and additional resources. Being a father is such an important and fulfilling role for me, and I want other fathers out there to recognize the impact they can have on their child’s life.
Watching my kids grow up is one of the greatest pleasures in my life. TJ, my oldest, is 9 years old and he is a lot like me — competitive and outgoing, but still very sensitive to others. He’ll stand up if he sees someone getting bullied and he is very interested in charity work. Titus is just 7 years old and he is still very shy and is just starting to come out of his shell. Titus is actually my WWE Superstar name (my real name is Thaddeus), so after participating in this PSA with me, Titus joked, “now the real Titus is going to be famous.”
Both TJ and Titus are honor students and they have both been named “Citizen of the Month” twice at their school. While I am there to help them grow, they also have impacted my life in positive ways. People love to gossip and tell stories, especially when you’re a celebrity, so I am very careful not to do anything that my kids might have to defend later. I don’t go out much, I don’t drink and I try every day to lead by example.
Being a WWE Superstar, I have a busy schedule but I try not to let these responsibilities interfere with my most important job — being a dad. On a typical day, I will get up at 4:30 a.m. so I can go to the gym and get back in time to take my kids to school. While they’re at school, I’ll run errands and then I’ll go back to the school so I can coach their basketball and football teams. After that, we’ll head home and have dinner together and then we’ll sit and do their homework. When we have free time, we’ll play football or laser tag or volunteer at the local nursing home. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing — as long as we’re together, we’ll have fun.
I want dads to recognize that their presence is essential to their children’s well-being and “the smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child’s life.” I hope you’ll watch the PSAs here, and take a moment to think about what you can do to further enrich your children’s lives this weekend and year-round.
To be able to exemplify my love for my kids and the importance of fatherhood through this campaign has meant a lot to me and I hope it makes other fathers out there realize that no matter what you have going on and how busy you are, time spent with your children is a blessing. If you don’t take advantage of this, this precious time will slip away and you won’t ever get it back.
Originally published on The Huffington Post Impact Blog.