Former NFL Great Hines Ward is a Role Model On and Off the Field

Written By: Ryan Smith, Megan Meier Foundation Intern

February 26, 2015

Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver.
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver.

For more than 14 years (1998-2011), Hines Ward showcased his incredible talent as a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football league. Some of his greatest accomplishments include being a 2x Super Bowl Champion, a 4x Pro Bowl selection, and having his #86 retired by the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

While he is most recognized around the world as a standout professional athlete, the adversity Ward faced in order to achieve his dreams should not be overlooked. Born an Asian American and Pacific Islander  (AAPI) biracial left Ward a constant bullying victim in school. This is how Ward summed up his experiences as a child, the target of discrimination:

“The black kids didn’t want to hangout with me because I was Korean. The Korean kids didn’t want to hangout with me because I was black. The white kids didn’t want to hangout with me because I was both black and Korean.”

Ward goes on to say that sports was the one thing he could turn to growing up because sports are about winning and being a part of a team, regardless of race.

In 2010, Ward’s days on the playing field were coming to an end but his goals to make a difference off the field were just beginning. He was selected to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission, where he was one of 18 Commissioners to serve on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The story of Hines Ward shows that anybody can be a victim of bullying, but with the right mindset, overcoming even the most challenging obstacles in life is possible.  Today, Ward is still a prominent figure in the fight against bullying.

You can join the conversation and learn more about Ward’s story and AAPI bullying prevention on Twitter using the hashtag #AAPIstrong.

For more information on Hines Ward, his struggle with bullying, and his movement, please visit the following links:


Here I Am Standing Taller

Guest Blog Written By: Berrit Casad


I have been a victim of bullying.

I haven’t got a clue why, but I always had to deal with the unneeded harassment from another all through out my life. I wondered if it’s the way I dress, the way I carry myself, or the way I speak. Maybe people feel threatened by me? Like I will admit I don’t always hold a smile on my face all the time, people often mistake me for being angry or upset, I walk really fast, I stand out in groups, I’m very straight forward, and my words are often heavy and deep. But don’t let my exterior fool you, I’m an incredibly emotional and passionate person, so I can see why I deal with a lot of harassment. I’m different, and truth be told, different isn’t always accepted here at Crescent.

Most of my troubles started my Sophomore year and I believe the cause of most of those problems started with sports, and let’s be brutally honest again, to most people here if you don’t do sports you’re different. And some of you can probably relate to that. There was a bunch of reasons why I ended up falling out of sports, but the main was that classic attitude from most people saying, you’ll never be good enough, you’ll never be strong enough, you’ll never be fast enough, and on the rare occasions when I received a “compliment” the final words in that sentence would usually always be “but never better than me.” And I find that really sad because when you’re young and on a team with mostly upperclassman everything they say you’ll take to heart at least that’s how it was for me. And most of the time when they knew I was upset about it they would try to make me better by saying something like “I’m only kidding”, but that never made sense to me either, like I never understood the joke, example: if I told each and everyone of you the exact same joke every morning, the first few days you might find it humorous or you wouldn’t think much of it at first, but I’m sure you probably know that jokes no matter how good or bad they are, get old very very fast.. And I always questioned the point of when does it stop being a joke.

You see after awhile their words began to sink in maybe I truly wasn’t strong enough, fast enough, or good enough. That’s when I started to believe them and I began to hate myself because everyone in Joyce liked them and no one really liked me, I felt out of place and I realized that there wasn’t many people my age who believed in me. And when you’re young that’s a hard pill to swallow, you want someone to believe in you and express their confidence in you and I never really received that. Then I realized that maybe it’s not my fault, that maybe they have it all wrong. Ask yourselves a question right now, for the teams that come in here and wipe the floor with us every year, do you think they treat their younger players the same? Do you think their best players tell the freshman that they will never be good enough, strong enough, fast enough? I honestly don’t think they do because they realize that in order to dominate you need to have inspiration and when you’re a freshman you need that inspiration from your teammates, you need them to believe in you. Just a little thing like makes or breaks a person. I finally realized that I wasn’t going to find anyone here to believe in me and give me that inspiration that I so desperately needed, so I began to believe in myself. I had no control over how fast I was, so I realized it didn’t matter, and I told myself that if I wasn’t going to be faster or stronger than them, then I would be smarter. If they were going to show up to school dressed in the same clothes that they went to sleep in, then I would wake up and dress every morning as if it was the most important day of my life. You see, everything that they said I couldn’t do didn’t matter, it wasn’t going to determine where I got a job, or if my first born child would be healthy or not. All it would give me in high school is popularity and let’s just say it didn’t take me long before I realized that being popular in high school didn’t matter because high school eventually will come to an end and the real world isn’t going to care if you were the captain of the cheer leading squad, or the football team, or how cute your high school sweet heart was. So, when I walked away from sports, I didn’t know what to expect, and then I realized that it didn’t matter whether I played on the field or sat up in the stands. The hurtful words I was told just changed and they replaced ‘never going to be good enough’ with ‘coward’, they kept ‘loser’ and ‘weak’ though.. Oh and they also added ‘faggot.’ I sincerely wish I had a dollar for every time I got called a ‘faggot’ in the parking lot alone.. It one day hit me, that no matter what I did I was fighting an uphill battle, people were still going to treat me the same way. And it made me sick to know that some people here hate just to hate, they have no rhyme or reason, all they have is a little voice inside their head telling them to hate. Which is sad because most of us at the stage in our lives are so easily manipulated we practically believe everything, especially that little voice and we don’t understand that the way to get it to shut up is to be mature, to think rationally.

Love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed.

So when I put on a collared shirt, a tie, or a scarf a lot of people felt that I was trying to let it be known that I was better then most of you, that I somehow had this thing about me that lead me to believe that I’m more important than all you guys. And that’s just not the truth, I would give most of you guys the shirt off my back or the jacket around my shoulders if you needed it, but at such a young age the truth is hard to accept, and we can’t just accept it because that comes with growing older and maturing. The sad truth is it’s easier for most of us at this age to just assume that he is some self-centered-egotistical piece of trash.

It’s like most of us believe that hating something or someone is easier than loving something or someone, but from my personal experience bearing hatred has destroyed me, my happiness has never kept me awake at night and left me in an agony forcing me to sit at a bus stop in the middle of nowhere handcuffed with stress.

And I know how you feel, it’s hard to be an upper in this world full of downers and it’s just bad luck that most of the downers have to be in high school, but believe me when I say there are some beautiful people in this world that one day you’ll meet and they will love everything about you to pieces. And when things get rough don’t give up on yourself or give in and begin believing what the bad people have to say to you. One my favorite poets has a quote that he wrote when he was our age and it says “I will love myself, despite the ease with which I lean towards the opposite.” Always love yourself, and if you don’t feel like anyone else in the world loves you, I know it may not be much, but know that I love all of you. And for those of you who say that I left high school and that I don’t know the “struggle,” well, you’re wrong. I sat with struggle every Wednesday afternoon for over an hour while I really nice man asked me all sorts of questions about why I feel so depressed and why I hated high school so much.. And somewhere along the line I realized that I don’t have to be miserable and to force myself to get up and go to school, so I had my parents remove me because I don’t think we should live our lives on a countdown timer praying that the time will somehow expire faster, and that’s all my Sophomore year contained was me watching the clock tick closer to “Running Start” because to me that was my escape from the harassment. Little did I realize I would have a group of undesirables pee on my truck my senior year, but I will get to that last.

Another problem that we face in high school that I feel everyone is oblivious to is relationships. I hate to blame the media, but they have it drilled into our heads that in order for the youth of this generation to be happy, they must be in a relationship.. Just for one moment think about how sad that is, that we make it seem that if we are not around or with a significant other we cannot be truly happy. How can we even make ourselves happy? Most of the teenagers I know believe that it’s impossible to make oneself happy without the affection of another.. That’s proof that most of us are dependent and what is a life worth living if we in a sense have to live it through another person because we can’t live it through ourselves… I have this theory, that relationships at this moment in our lives are not as important as the media makes them seem. I mean wouldn’t we all just love to hug and be with someone beautiful for the rest of our lives right now? But truth be told we can’t always get that right now, but believe me when I say being patient will be worth it.. Now, please understand this, I’m not telling you not to date or enjoy spending time with someone your age who you care about deeply, but remind yourself that you don’t need to be in that kind of a relationship to be happy.. At this point in our lives we should be searching for who we are inside ourselves, not in each other. And we shouldn’t judge so harshly when someone believes they have found their true self. Enjoy the moment now because one day you will be home and you’ll have a wife or a husband and a few kids and I can guarantee you will miss the times you spent with friends driving around and looking at the stars because the responsibilities of being married and having keep us from doing the stuff we did when we were younger.

So understand that it’s not a bad thing to be alone sometimes or to not have someone to text in the middle of night because you’re just proving to yourself that you’re alive and happy and functioning well without depending on a significant other to supply you with those things. Be patient and I know it’s a dead horse to beat on, but you must believe that everything happens for a reason and that if you try hard, in the end you’ll be happy. And if this is incentive know that someone who I admire very much once told me that you meet your true friends in college and studies show that that is where you’ll meet the person of your dreams! So dream big and never settle for less. And from my short experience going to college every word that person said to me has been true, except for the one true love thing, I haven’t found her yet, but then again I’m not even looking. If someone would have told me the list of events that will happen to me throughout high school at the beginning of my freshman year I would have not believed them. But still to this day I’m amazed by how much one person can really change in such a short period of time. I never would have pictured me resenting high school and constantly being mad at the world, but in the end, I’m glad it happened because it made me, me. And I don’t mean to brag, but I love the man I have become and I all want to do is bring good to those around me, but that is a near impossible task. And I realize that even though I may look a little bit like superman with my glasses on, but I’m no hero.. And no, contrary to popular belief I don’t sparkle and live in some dungeon and sleep in a coffin..

But the hardest thing about trying to be happy and make those around you happy as well is there will be people who will reject your happiness and they will be ignorant enough and have the audacity to believe that happiness is an insult, so they in turn will vandalize your vehicle as if that is going to solve all the problems, but they don’t realize that they themselves are the problem, I mean lets not forget that NONE of this would be going on right now if two people had decided to actually do something meaningful and be adults, but people like that will be jerks and they themselves are the true cowards.

To recite another quote from my favorite poet and this goes to all the bullies, “we are stuck with you the same way you’re stuck with you. Your mind is glue and it keeps malice fastened there like cheap wallpaper.” It’s true, those people have “ridges for ribs that drop off into empty chests as if their hearts were all stolen treasures and an excavation crew was hired to dig up the part of them that made them feel…” That’s a bully. They’re the ones that “have to make the world ugly, so that no one can notice them hiding in it.” But I won’t give them the time of day, I won’t step out of my way to acknowledge their cruelty, for they have proved that I’m already better than them. And for those of you who are bullied hear these words, it only means that you somehow are better than them. I don’t believe in violence, but I do believe that my words are stronger than any bully.

“Know that now is only a moment, and that if today, is as bad as it gets, then understand, that by tomorrow, today will have ended.” I have a saying I made “Here I Am Standing Taller” and I got it tattooed across my rib cage and every morning I wake up and see it and it reminds that no matter how bad yesterday was, I passed it, and now here I am standing taller. And I no longer look at the past, I look towards the future. Try to be better people because all you have to do is try. Thank you.

“Dear Greenhille”

While exploring the internet lately, we couldn’t help to notice the powerful message the Greenhille High School students were delivering to their student body. As seniors, the class of 2015 was fed up with the way that their own peers were treating each other and decided to take a stand. In case you missed it….

See more images and read about their movement here.