The American Dream is alive and well. I’m living proof. Where else but America could a farm boy from rural Missouri achieve success in, of all things, the world of professional wrestling?
When I was a kid, I always dreamed of being a professional athlete. But growing up, I thought that was all it would ever be… a dream. My dad spent twenty-one years in the military, and served in both Korea and Vietnam. Dad’s military service took him all over the world. In fact, I was born on a U.S. Air Force base in Spain! My mom was a homemaker and the glue that kept our family together. My sister was the academic genius who would become a rocket scientist. That’s not a joke. She worked at NASA. My brother was the guy who could fix anything that had moving parts. And I was the family athlete. At least that’s what I wanted to be.
For most of my youth, I was awkward and gangly. During high school, my body finally caught up with me and I excelled in basketball, eventually earning an athletic scholarship to Truman State University where I played both basketball and football. It looked like I had a real shot to play in the NFL, but a knee injury shattered that dream.
But as so often happens in life, that injury turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. After graduating with a degree in English, I took a job at a group home for folks with special needs, but I also dabbled in professional wrestling. Eventually, I decided to pursue wrestling as a serious career. The first few years were pretty rough. I would drive 200 or 300 hundred miles and usually not even earn enough to pay for gas. More often than not, I’d sleep on a colleague’s couch. When I did get a hotel room, I’d split it with two or three other guys to save money.