WWE powerhouse Titus O'Neil muscles up for Houston kids

O'Neil, a WWE powerhouse, is powering the lives of kids. Photo courtesy of Boys and Girls Club

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Four WWE superstars rolled up their sleeves and got to work at a "Day of Service" event benefitting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Houston this week. Mark Henry, Kalisto, Dana Brooke, and Titus O'Neil helped assemble hundreds of bicycles at the Marriott Marquis hotel, which were given to needy children in Houston.

For one of the superstars, giving a poor kid a new bike is payback. Titus O'Neil has an amazing, inspiring story to tell.

"I am the recipient of a lot of charity work. People invested in me when they had nothing to gain from it. When I was a kid, I was always in trouble. People thought I would be in jail or dead by the time I was 16," says O'Neil, now 42 and a multi-time champion in WWE.

"I was the product of a rape. My mother was raped when she was 11 and had me when she was 12. We were very poor and I had a bad attitude about life. My mother gave up on me and sent me away. I was sent to the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch before I was a teenager. But it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. It was a life-changing sanctuary. For the first time, I felt safe, I knew I was in a safe place. I felt I could be open about who I was instead of being ashamed of it. As a result, I'm more comfortable sharing with people who I am and where I came from," O'Neil says.

"During my time at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, I heard the most powerful words ever spoken to me. They were 'I love you and I believe in you.' That's when I started to believe in myself. Before that, people had told me that they loved me, but they'd turn around and beat me and abuse me."

O'Neil lived at the Florida Sheriff's Boys Ranch through high school One day, a bus took the boys to a movie.

"We saw E.T. It was the first time I had never been to the movies. I thought, 'Is this how rich kids live? Do they get to go to the moves all the time?' I never had a birthday party. I didn't find out how I was conceived until I was 17. My mother once asked me if I wanted to meet my father. I said no. I didn't want to meet the man who stole my mother's childhood."

O'Neill earned a scholarship to the University of Florida, got his degree and played five years of pro ball. He joined WWE in 2009 and his autobiography, There's No Such Thing As A Bad Kid will be published in August.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about Titus O'Neil's work with disadvantaged children.

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Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

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