Titus O'Neil was on the latest episode of Chasing Glory With Lilian Garcia. On the episode, Titus discussed his role as a WWE Superstar, growing up with his mother, finding out the truth about his mother at seventeen, his love of philanthropy, his close friendship with Dave Bautista and more. You can listen to the full episode on PodcastOne at this link. They sent us these highlights:
Being Professional and Disciplined as a WWE Superstar
"It's a scripted program. No matter how good or bad of a wrestler I could be, if I'm written a certain way, I can be written a certain way. I don't lose track of the fact that regardless of whether I'm the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, or the Universal Champion, or the Intercontinental Champion, or the Tag Team Champion, regardless of what title I hold in regards to the company and the title, I'm going to remain the professional that I am and I'm going to remain the person that I am. Even if I was the Universal Champion, the way that I act, the things that I do both inside and outside of WWE would not change. It would only put I guess more emphasis on what it is that I've already been doing. So for me, I look at like, okay I have an opportunity to continue to help change hopefully the narrative and the stereotypes that come along with being a wrestler per say, that's what they call us, but we actually really are Superstars. We do so much more than wrestling. We got guys acting, and activists, and advocates, doing so much more than just going out and doing moves in the ring. So for me, I feel like I am a WWE Champion. I'm everything that this company should have in a Superstar, not only from a physical standpoint, but really from a business standpoint."
His Mother's Decision Not to Abort Him:
"My mom said that she felt very strongly that God had this happen for a reason and she didn't understand it, but she refused to go against what God told her to do. I didn't find about how I was conceived until I was seventeen years old. Me and my mom were like brother and sister growing up, literally. Me and my mom fought a lot. There was a lot of times where I just did not like my mom at all. I used to do stuff rebelliously just to get away from her because I didn't understand a lot of things and there was no male role model in the home. There was no father figure in the home and we were poor, we were in the projects, we were trying to figure out, 'What am I going to eat this week?'"
Finding Out The Truth About His Mother at Seventeen:
"Like I said, I used to get into a lot of trouble. I was fighting all the time, I was kicked out of school, I was labeled a kid that was going to be dead or in jail before I was sixteen years old. I went to a place called Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch. I was supposed to be there for eighteen months, ended up staying there for five years, not because I was bad the whole time, but because I really didn't have much to go home to. And I was really doing well in school, academically and athletically. I was doing so well there, my mom just felt like it was the right time and it kind of threw me for a loop because they normally let us go home, but they normally don't want the parents to come up. They're trying to teach them and counsel them back at home and they're trying to teach us and counsel us outside the confines of being together. We want to get her right and get me right. It was a random trip, she came up and then we did the meeting at the central office, which I never meet in the central office, I always go to the unit director office if I got in trouble or whatever. I didn't even know she was there until I got to the office and she had some tears in her eyes.
"'So what's going on? Am I getting kicked off?' Because I thought I was getting ready to kicked off, I hadn't done anything, I was doing really well. So then she told me how I was conceived. She told me the whole story and asked me at the time, 'Is there anything you want to know or anything you want to ask?' 'Do you know who it is?' That's what I asked. 'Yeah I knew who it was.' And I said, 'How did he get so close to you?' And she's like, 'It was your grandmother's boyfriend.' I said, 'Have you seen him since?' And she's like, 'No, I haven't seen him in years, but I can find him if you wanted to meet him.' And so I said, 'No. I don't want to meet him.' Because I would have probably tried to hurt him. I remember also that day, all the issues that I with my mom, all the disgust that I had for certain things and I was blaming her for a lot of stuff, all that went away. It's like a heel turning babyface overnight."
Learning How to Adapt to the Wrestling Business:
"Hardest thing I've ever done. The art of it is the hardest thing, the psychology-things like that, but I've done physical sports all my life. But then also too, the politics of it, I'm not a fan of that part. People ask me all the time, 'Are you in love with the wrestling business?' No I'm not in love with the wrestling business, I'm in love with what the wrestling business does for people. Gives people opportunities to make a living, it gives people opportunities to escape their realities, it gives people opportunities to have heroes and be heroes. I one hundred percent love that aspect of it. Most of the performers on our roster, if you ask them the same question, you're going to get a varying amount of answers because some went through the independents and it's all they ever wanted to do, you got some like myself came off the streets and got into it. I have a very deep passion and love for the profession and for the people that came before me and for the people that are involved in it with me."
His WWE Suspension in 2016:
"I still don't understand it. I literally put me my hand out and said, 'Ladies first.' So I don't know what the wrong time is to say, 'Ladies first' or the right time. It's water under the bridge. It happened and I took ownership of it regardless if I was right, wrong, or indifferent, or if the situation could have been handled different. It happened. I served my suspension and its over with. It goes back to the fact that I know who I am and I know what I did and I know why I did it and God has rewarded me tenfold."
His Opportunity to do a TED Talks:
"I'm actually like the first or second overall person to do it in combat sports ever. The opportunity came up like three years ago, but they shut it down because of the profession that I was in with WWE and the stereotypes. Julie Sina who is an assistant chancellor here at UCLA worked with me at the University of Florida. She was Vice President of Student Affairs at Florida when I was Vice President of Student Government so she worked very closely with the students. She was like, 'No, you guys don't understand this guy, he's an amazing guy with an amazing story. He can do what TED Talks are intended to do which are to educate, entertain, or inspire and I believe that he can do all three.'
"When I talked to them in November, they were still kind of on the fence as to whether or not they were going to let it happen. We talked for like an hour and a half and every curator on there, there was about twelve people on the phone. They were having a general conversation with me, 'Why do you do this? Why is this? Give me a story of this and that.' After that conversation, it was like this is completely opposite of what we expected."