“I BELIEVE!”

Former WWE Superstar Marc Mero began his message about choices and how they could affect your life to junior high and high school students at Flora and North Clay last week with those two words.

Following a 16 year professional wrestling career where he received the most notoriety in the WWE.

While he performed in World Championship Wrestling, Mero was involved with drugs.

“I’ve overdosed on drugs on three occasions and I am very honest with the students as to where my bad choices took me,” Mero said.

During the presentation at North Clay on Friday, Mero told the students about how the choices he made once he got into college and how it affected his relationship with his siblings.

“After losing my brother and sister, they both died at 21.  My mom died at age 58.  My dad died while I was holding him in my arms,” Mero said.  “I realized how precious life was and how quickly it could be taken away.”

After encountering those events that he wished he could handle differently, Mero started Champion of Choices at the urging of his wife Darlene.

“She looked at me and said, ‘You need to share your story.’  It was at that point that it just exploded,” Mero said.

From that point, Mero formed Champion of Choices.  He toured schools around the country and eventually the world telling students his story and about the choices that he had made.

“Every time we went to a school, they would tell another school about it,” Mero said.  “It’s across the world.  We went to Russia and spoke at schools in Russia.”

 Mero added that his program not only affects the students, but it has also had an effect on parents.

“I’ve met so many parents that have lost their kids to suicide or drug overdose and it’s something that they don’t get over.  They carry the pain with them the rest of their lives,” Mero said.  “I think this program gets kids to open up and talk about their adversity and their feelings.  When we hold them in, it’s like a volcano and sooner or later it will erupt.  Sometimes it will erupt into negative behavior.”

One of the most devastating events that Mero encountered was when his mother passed away.

“I guess the amazing thing about my life is that I became the man that my mom thought I would be.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t around to see it,” Mero said.  “I believe she knows.  We just take our parents for granted but when it ends, it’s one of the most sobering things that I went through.”

Mero was on a wrestling tour in Japan when he received word from the promoter that he needed to call home.

“After of hearing of her death, I was in Japan and I remember walking into the streets of Hiroshima, Japan.  It was 3:00 in the morning and I remember just screaming how sorry I was and realizing at that point, I would never see her again until I see her in heaven,” Mero said.

Although Mero has lost not only his parents but two of his siblings, he still has a younger brother and sister.  Going through the same trials and tribulations that he went through with the others was something that Mero wasn’t going to encounter again.

“I still have one brother and one sister left and we are closer than we have ever been,” Mero said.  “We talk on the phone almost every single day.  We never end a conversation without saying I love you.  That would have never happened growing up with my other brother and sister.”

The experiences with drugs that Marc encountered more during his time with WCW.

“The drugs happened a lot more when I was with WCW.  Then I cleaned up my life, made a commitment and got married that lasted for a while then it all came back with a vengeance and everything got ruined: divorce, loneliness, loss of friends, depression, you name it,” Mero said.  “Leaving wrestling, it just snowballed. With three drug overdoses, the depression got so dark.

“The blessing that comes out of it is that I meet people that have gone or are going through the things I went through and I can look them in the eye and say ‘I know how you feel. I know what you’re going through.’ And really mean it.”

Through his experiences on the road and speaking at schools and community events, Marc has received numerous messages through social media about how telling his story has helped students that are struggling with their own demons.

“I am so grateful that I didn’t end my own life and everyday seeing thousands of students that are experiencing a life changing presentation.  I just got a message yesterday that the girl said ‘If it wasn’t for you being here, I would have ended my life.’  I got a bunch of letters from kids that were suicidal and didn’t want to be here any longer.  I was up most of the night answering these letters and I still have so many that I haven’t got to yet,” Mero said.

Mero said with each presentation that he gives at schools or in a community event, he feels is going to set a kid on the right path.

“I know that some kid here is going to have a life changing moment.  Some kid here is going to go home and tell their parents that they love them, be kinder to their siblings and are going to go after their dreams and goals in their life and realize that they are pretty special, pretty amazing and that they matter.”