Motivational speaker Daniel Truelove speaks to CCSD students

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2023

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The Chambers County School District kicked off Black History Month with visits from public speaker Daniel Truelove at the middle and high schools in Valley and LaFayette. Valley High School students heard about resilience and determination in the face of adversity on Wednesday. 

Truelove also visited W.F. Burns Middle School, J.P. Powell and LaFayette High School on Wed. 

Truelove, an at-risk motivational speaker, talked to students about building confidence and resilience in order to turn one’s goals into a reality. The Lamar County native grew up in poverty in a household with 13 family members and lost three siblings by the time he was 13 years old. 

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Though he played college football for Alabama State University, Truelove struggled with making his dream of being a professional football athlete come true. 

Eventually, Truelove faced suicidal thoughts and decided to turn his life around. For the past 13 years, he has worked with students across the country as an advocate for mental health and suicide awareness.

During the event, Truelove spoke about his challenges after losing three siblings by ninth grade. He held up two tennis balls to the students. He showed the students how the ball had no trouble bouncing. He said the ball represents people facing adversity and how it has no problem “bouncing back” after being thrown.

“But what do you think would happen if I cut holes into this ball?” Truelove said. 

Some students said that the ball wouldn’t be able to bounce as high or at all anymore. Truelove took the other tennis ball and showed that he had cut holes into it. Yet when he threw the ball, it bounced just as high as the other one. He asked the students why it still bounced back.

“Because that’s what it was created to do,” Truelove said. “This was designed and created in such a way to where you can actually put some holes in it, you can cut it with a knife and cut it with some scissors. You can actually do some things to it and yet by design, it still has the ability to keep bouncing.”

Putting the tennis balls away, Truelove said that people facing adversity are also designed to bounce back from the obstacles they faced. However, everyone has to figure out a way to bounce back. For Truelove, his “bounce-back” was education and football. 

“I recognized that if I actually committed to something that was different than the path that my parents took then I would actually have a different outcome than the outcome that my parents had,” Truelove said.

Next, the former football player asked students to raise their hands if they were athletes. About a third of the students in the room raised their hands. He asked how many of them had dreams of becoming a professional athlete, and almost all of them kept their hands up. 

Truelove said that out of the thousands of students that have attended Valley High since it opened, less than 20 have gone to the professional level. 

“What’s the difference between speaking and becoming?” Truelove said. 

Then, he asked the student-athletes to raise their hands if they had already worked out that day. Only two students raised their hands. Truelove said in order for students to be successful in their goals, the students’ actions need to reflect their drive. 

“Are your actions leading you to that place where you feel you’re gonna accomplish your goal?” Truelove said. 

However, Truelove said, in order to be a success, you have to push yourself every day. He asked two students to come down off the bleachers. When they did, he asked each student how many push-ups they could do. One student said he could do 30 and the other said he could do 40. Truelove told them to do 20 each, and the audience counted them out. 

When they got to 20, both students stood up. Truelove asked why they stopped if they knew they could do more. Both students ended up doing 50 push-ups in total. Rather than settling for the bare minimum, Truelove encouraged the students to push themselves to elevated standards.

“They both had 50 inside of them, but because someone told them ‘give me 20,’ they settled for 20,” Truelove said.