Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is one of the most genuine human beings you can meet.
Tilman will be featured in one of the most heart-warming program's called NFL Characters Unite, which will be airing alongside other similar NFL player stories in a one-hour documentary on the USA Network during Super Bowl XLVIII weekend.
I had a chance to chat with him back in 2010 about everything football including his nickname, "Peanut", and how developed such a great knack at punching the ball out (the interview can be read here).
Unfortunately, Tillman was lost for the regular season with torn right triceps injury back in a Week 10 loss to the Lions. But he is still finding ways to help outside of football.
The NFL Characters Unite program features a new weekly webisode series that can be viewed on charactersunite.com.
Part of USA’s award-winning Characters Unite public service campaign, the documentary, presented by GMC, profiles NFL stars as they share deeply personal stories of overcoming prejudice, bullying and discrimination, with the goal of helping young people who are currently facing similar challenges.
Other participating NFL players include Victor Cruz, Mark Herzlich, Nick Mangold, Ray Rice, J.J. Watt and Dez Bryant.
Through meaningful conversations and unique one-on-one confidence building activities, the NFL leaders, both on and off the field, open lines of communication, instill courage and help the kids they meet realize that they, too, can achieve greatness and should ‘Never Say Never’ to their dreams.
The documentary, narrated by former NFL star and NBC Sunday Night Football Emmy®-winning sportscaster Cris Collinsworth.
Tillman's Webisode Story
Tillman grew up in a military family and spent much of his childhood moving around the world from one military base to the next. In fact, Tillman’s family moved so often that by the time he graduated high school, he had attended more than 10 schools.
Throughout his youth, Tillman was always having to start over and try to make new friends. So often the new kid, he struggled to fit in and was frequently a target for bullies. He was made to feel like an outcast and called many hurtful names.
Tillman personally understands how challenging life can be for kids who grow up in military households, fearing the bullies they will encounter with every move, and he is committed to providing support to these youth who want nothing more than to be accepted.
In this webisode of NFL Characters Unite, Tillman meets 16-year-old Katy who, like Tillman, is from a military family. She has moved several times and struggles to start over and fit in every time her family relocates.
She recently moved to Chicago, where Katy hoped she would finally be able to make friends and feel accepted.However, at her current school, where there are few military families among the 2,000 students, Katy feels more like an outcast now than ever before. Her one escape outlet has been acting.
Katy’s dream is to become an actress, and she has always thrived in her theater classes. However, after being picked on constantly by her classmates, she recently dropped out of her class, giving up the one thing that made her happy and usually provided refuge from the bullying.
Tillman, who can relate to Katy’s feeling like an outsider, believes no kid should have to give up what they love. He surprises her and brings her to the world famous Second City improv theater, where she works with the teacher and students on acting exercises.
Unlike at school, she is welcomed and immediately accepted by the other improv students. They all team up to perform in front of a live audience. During this activity Katy gets to be herself, escape bullying, and reignite her passion for acting, realizing that she should 'Never Say Never' to her dream.
Tillman's day with Katy can be viewed here (charactersunite.com/programming/nfl/charles-tillman)
NFL CHARACTERS UNITE was created by The Company and is executive produced by Charlie Ebersol and produced and directed by Paul Pawlowski. For more information on CHARACTERS UNITE, visit charactersunite.com or usanetwork.com.
Don't forget to visit Charles Tillman's Corner Stone Foundation website, charlestillman.org. Charles and his foundation consistently do great stuff in the community. Also follow Charles on Twitter (@peanuttillman).
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