We love the underdog, whether it’s a team not supposed to win or an individual overcoming the odds.
A feel good story, you just want to cheer Cinderella.
That’s why you can feel good cheering (or booing) Thaddeus Bullard.
Bullard, 36, is WWE superstar Titus O’Neil, and life for him could have easily been taken away, if not for a courageous mother.
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound sports entertainer is a former Arena League football player, college gridiron talent, student body vice president and most importantly college graduate. Blessed and humbled, his zest for life is evident, appreciating what he has and the ability to have it.
Bullard starred in football at Suwanee High School for Coach Mike Pittman in Live Oak, east of Tallahassee, Fla. He received national attention in 1995 as one of the elite high school defensive lineman, earning All-American honors by Parade Magazine, Super Prep and USA Today. The National Recruiting Adviser ranked him the second top defensive tackle prospect. He was named to the Bluechips Illustrated National Dream Team and Florida's prestigious Super Seniors Team.
A Florida first-team All-State (Class 4A) high school selection, Bullard visited Florida State University, Ohio State and Tennessee, but the University of Florida in Gainesville became his collegiate home. He played for Coach Steve Spurrier.
As a Gator, he worked toward a solid career, competing in 44 regular season games (with three starts) including playing time in the 1998 Citrus Bowl, 1999 Orange Bowl and 2000 Citrus Bowl.
Receiving UF’s Most Improved Defensive Lineman Award, Bullard did even better off the field. He was elected UF Student Body Vice President and graduated with a college degree in August 2000. The Gators football program also honored him with the Goodwill Gator Award for community service and involvement, like speaking at local churches and coaching kids.
Community service is something near and dear to his heart -- with the University of Florida, the Arena League and WWE. He gave more than 800 Christmas gifts to underprivileged children in the Tampa area, and he is a speaker in the WWE Be a STAR anti-bullying program. He motivates, talking with students about bullying, what to do, the Be a STAR initiative.
When his football career ended in 2007, he eventually turned to pro wrestling.
In 2009, Bullard signed a developmental deal with WWE and began learning the ropes through FCW in Tampa. By 2012, he found himself on WWE’s main roster as one of the Prime Time Players. Everyone needs a catch phrase, and the PTPers coined “Millions of Dollars.”
O’Neil is a million bucks, combining athleticism, agility, charisma, power, skill and a gift for gab to become a formidable pro wrestler/sports entertainer.
He is now entering the singles life of pro wrestling, breaking away from The Prime Time Players and tag team partner Darren Young, turning on him recently. Stylish suits, designer shoes, an attitude and a Gator chomp make Titus O’Neil irritating, and that’s a good thing on WWE Monday Night Raw.
Bullard appreciates life, his life and the lives of others -- and for good reason.
Born in Boynton Beach, a rough and tumble city between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in South Florida, Bullard tells his story. His mother, Daria, was raped and then pregnant. It would have been understood if she chose abortion, but instead, she chose life, and on April 29, 1977, Thaddeus Michael Bullard was born.
Bullard overcame his own struggles, and as Titus O’Neil, he recently spoke at a WWE Be a STAR anti-bullying rally in Miami. His personal growth and family story can help others.
Video interview with WWE superstar Titus O’Neil in Miami
Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
Be a STAR rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X50FQm_kQuM
• Twitter: @TitusONeilWWE
• Good story in 2012 in the Tampa Bay Times on Thaddeus Bullard
• WWE’s biggest show of the year, WrestleMania, the Super Bowl of pro wrestling/sports entertainment, celebrates its 30th anniversary on Sunday, April 6 from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
• The WWE Network debuts Monday, Feb. 24 after Monday Night Raw.