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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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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