Mero, founder of Champion of Choices Inc., spoke to the audience about the challenges he overcame in his life.
A New York native, Mero has been a motivational speaker for about six years. He gave a similar speech on Thursday to Cherokee students during the school’s family night, where students from Teasley Middle School also came with their parents to hear his presentation, ask questions and meet Mero.
At 8 years old, Mero said he experienced his first adversity when his parents divorced. When he was 10 years old, Mero said he and his family were living in one of the poorest areas of New York.
“I would hear my mom cry herself to sleep at night,” Mero said in his speech.
Mero said he began journaling dreams and goals in a notebook; some were materialistic things such as buying a black Cadillac and a speedboat, but he also wanted to become a professional athlete.
Mero’s dreams soon became reality after he earned the title of New York State Golden Gloves boxing champion. He said he had aspirations of becoming a professional, but his dream was stopped short a year when his nose was shattered in an accident.
At that point, he said his life started to change. He started drinking and doing drugs, causing his planned one-year hiatus to turn into 10 years.
He said his family was his biggest support, but they were also the ones he shunned away as the years progressed.
Mero said he eventually started to turn his life around when he became a professional wrestler for World Championship Wrestling.
However, soon after he joined the professional wrestling world, he struggled with the deaths of several family members. His sister fell victim to cancer; his mom died of a stroke while he was on tour in Japan; his brother, two weeks after his mom died, fell and hit his head when he went for blood work for a job; and his dad died of lung cancer in Mero’s arms.
But Mero said he didn’t give up on life.
“It’s my faith in God that keeps me positive,” he said. “I realize that the most important gift is to realize how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away.”
Cherokee High’s Principal Debra Murdock was extremely grateful that Mero came and talked to the students.
“I loved how honest he was about his own circumstances,” Murdock said. “The fact that he was able to turn his negative experiences into positive ones was incredible. He owned up to his mistakes and that is something that the students (at Cherokee) could relate to.”
Mero said he couldn’t believe how quickly he received feedback from students.
“I was flooded with letters, emails and (social media) posts within minutes after the presentation,” Mero said. “I am hoping other schools in the Atlanta area will have the opportunity to see this life-changing presentation.”
To learn more about Mero and his organization, visit www.championofchoices.org.