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Thad Bullard

Thaddeus Bullard entered this world as a statistic. He was the product of rape; his mother was only 12 years old when she delivered him. Bullard grew up in poverty, oftentimes hungry, sometimes living in homeless shelters, and other times sleeping in cars. When they could afford an apartment, they couldn’t pay the electricity. His family inevitably would be evicted because they were behind in their rent. He always knew when that day came because he find the doors bolted […]

Thaddeus Bullard entered this world as a statistic. He was the product of rape; his mother was only 12 years old when she delivered him. Bullard grew up in poverty, oftentimes hungry, sometimes living in homeless shelters, and other times sleeping in cars. When they could afford an apartment, they couldn’t pay the electricity. His family inevitably would be evicted because they were behind in their rent. He always knew when that day came because he find the doors bolted shut when he got home from school. Kids made fun of his too-small shoes, tattered pants, and taped-together glasses. He was angry and pugilistic and was told boys like him wound up dead in or in jail by the time they were 16.

That’s what everyone expected to happen to him. But in his teenage years, random teachers started to believe in him; the Sheriff’s Boys Ranch took an interest in him; his community began investing in him. Thad became one of the top high school football recruits in the nation; graduating from the University of Florida with two degrees. He served as student body vice president, played in the NFL, and is now known as WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil.

He was not a bad kid. He was born into bad circumstances. Bullard works to change the narrative of the less fortunate so that everyone around him sees the value in others, and they also see the value in themselves.

Through his Bullard Family Foundation, Bullard has partnered with the Hillsborough County School District to transform the lives of students at Sligh Middle Magnet School and the families in the surrounding neighborhood.

Because of his outstanding work in his local community of Tampa and as a WWE Superstar Community Ambassador, Bullard was honored as the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Citizen of the Year. Additionally, in 2020, he served as the grand marshal of the Krewe of the Knights of Sant ’Yago Illuminated Knight Parade, which celebrates Tampa’s diversity and civic pride. Most recently, Bullard was named a finalist for the ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, which is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports. The candidate embraces the core principles that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect. The winner will be announced June 21, 2020.

For his alma mater, the University of Florida, Bullard delivered a congratulatory message to this year’s graduating class, which was unable to gather due to the coronavirus pandemic. He will return next year to deliver the commencement speech to the class of 2021.

In 2018, Bullard was included in the 2018 EBONY Power 100 List. Compiled by the editors of EBONY Magazine, each honoree is considered to be a leader and game changer in his or her respected field.