Former professional wrestler Marc Mero, who has been a WCW and WWE champion, talked about the love his mother had for him, leaving many viewers highly emotional and in tears.
His message, which can be seen on YouTube and has received more than 1 million hits and generally positive reviews, focused on the love his mother gave him when he was a young child. He presents a similar message in schools across the United States through his nonprofit organization based in Florida, Champion of Choices, which focuses on anti-bullying efforts.
"My mom, she really empowered me to become special in sports," Mero said in the video. "The greatest gift my mother ever gave me was [that] she believed in me."
Mero elaborated to students on the destructive path he took in life. Although his descriptions were harrowing and controversial at times, there was an overall lesson he gained from his experience; his mom reminded him of the old saying that said "show me your friends, and I will show you your future."
"I've overdosed on drugs on three occasions where I should've been dead, but I believed I was kept here for a reason." Mero told the students. "I hung out with losers. I became the biggest loser of them all because I gave up everything I dreamt about as a little boy because of who I chose to surround myself with."
Mero added that when he was a teenager, he would be out with friends into the late-night hours, drinking alcohol and "getting high" on drugs. However, his mother would always leave the light on, which was a sign that she was awake and waiting for him to come home.
"My mom wouldn't go to bed until she knew her son was still alive," Mero said.
The former wrestler talked about how he didn't appreciate his mother being there for him as a teenager. Although she wanted to talk to him after he came home late that night, Mero wanted to be left alone.
"I would slam my bedroom door on the one person who believed in me," Mero said.
Mero then turned to a story about his wrestling career, which took him to Japan. He talked about a late-night reception he received in his hotel room from a Japanese promoter about an emergency back home in the United States.
"I got back on the hotel room phone and called back to the United States and said, 'Hey, what's going on?'" Mero said.
The wrestler received terrible news over the phone about his mother. The people on the other side of the phone had a hard time sharing the information with Mero.
"'Mark, your mother died,'" Mero said. "I just threw the phone down. I ran out of my hotel room. I took the elevator to the lobby. When the doors opened up, I just ran out into the street."
Mero was full of raw emotion after hearing the news of her mother's death, right up to the point of her funeral.
"I was so nervous to walk up to her casket, so I just stood way in the back," Mero said. "I kept thinking to myself, 'Mom, please wake up. Please get up.'"
Finally having the nerve to talk, Mero mentioned that his mom was a "hero" to him. Some of the kids in the audience started shedding tears in the video.
"Everything I am, everything I hoped to be was because of you," Mero said, expressing emotion as he described his mom. "You loved me so much, you gave me a life. You worked two jobs. You're the only one that ever believed in me."
Mero added that he regretted the way he repaid her through his boneheaded actions, which included hanging out with the wrong crowds and ingesting drugs and alcohol.
"All she ever wanted to do was to talk to me," Mero said.
He then had a pointed message aimed at everyone in the audience. According to Mero, the pursuit of fame and fortune happened at the expense of destroying his personal life.
"If you have a mother or a father, tell them how much you love them," Mero said. "See, my whole life was about being rich and famous, that's all I cared about. I had to win the race at the expense of my marriage, my family, [and] my friends. That's not how it was intended to be."
Mero concluded by sharing the lesson he learned with the students in the auditorium. He urged them to be "kinder to each other" and "stop with the name-calling and hurting other people."
"I learned what is truly important, and that is how precious this gift of life is, and how quickly it could be quickly taken away," Mero said. "I'm not worried about tomorrow. It's not what's in your pocket that matters; it's what in your heart that truly matters."
According to the Champion of Choices website, the organization's mission is "to empower students to make healthy and positive choices that lead to lifelong success, initiating personal and social change to make a difference in themselves and their communities." The organization noted that Mero lost 30 of his closest friends and family members "largely due to lifestyle choices and negative behaviors."
"I'm dedicating the rest of my life to helping young people know that there's hope in this world," Mero said on the organization's website. "Anyone can achieve their goals and dreams if they choose to believe!"