Marc Mero is a man who had it all and lost it all but now says he truly understands the keys to happiness — a message he spends his days sharing with youth across the country.

Mero, a former boxer and professional wrestler turned motivational speaker will speak at Edgewood and Patterson Mill High Schools . The presentations will be open to the public. 

Mero, 54, was once known as the wrestler Johnny B. Badd, but today his message on his #Badd Tour is to Be Against Destructive Decisions. Mero grew up in poverty, which often lead to being bullied, and stressed the power of setting goals. At the age of 10, he began writing his dreams and goals down in a journal he still has.

“Write your dreams and goals into existence,” he said, adding when you stop dreaming you stop living. Growing up poor, many of Mero’s early goals were materialistic — though over the course of his life he made many of them come true. But for a long time he mistook money and fame for happiness. “Happiness is key to success, and happy is a choice we all have the ability to make,” he said. 

The wrong people

Much of Mero’s presentation focuses on the need to be around the right people.

“We base our limitations on what other people think and say,” he said, adding his friends laughed at him when he said he was going to become a professional wrester at age 30 — but a year later he was named pro wrestling’s Rookie of the Year.

He said the greatest gift his mother gave him “was to believe in me.” But being around the wrong people isn’t just about negativity, he said. 

Mero was coming up as a boxer in New York, but before his first professional bout, his nose was shattered in an accident and he would miss a year recovering.

But during his recovery, he was around people who drank and did drugs and he got into the lifestyle. One year became two, became four, became 10 and suddenly, instead of pursuing his lifelong dream of being an athlete as he wrote in his journal, Mero found himself digging swimming pools. 

“Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future,” he said. 

Meanwhile, he’d come home early in the morning, drunk and high and argue with his mother. 

“I slammed the door in the face of the one person who believed in me,” Mero said.

During this time, he eventually moved out and grew distant from his family, ignoring voicemails and letters from his younger sister Andrea — even missing her high school graduation — and spending time with his little brother Guy Christopher.

Andrea died after an eight-month battle with cancer and Guy Christopher had a fall and suffered brain damage, dying at 21, weeks before his first child was born.  

“Why couldn’t I have been a better brother? … We are defined by our choices,” he said, a theme he came back to repeatedly.

After getting clean and earning his big wrestling break, he had enough money to fulfill every wish in his dream journal. However, the money and lifestyle fed his addiction. He lost everything — his wife, his money and many friends. Mero has a “death list” of 30 friends who died of overdoses or suicides and said he should have been on it.

While on tour in Japan, his mother died. Mero said she was his hero, but at her funeral all he could think of was how he repaid her by getting drunk and high.

“All she wanted to do was talk to me,” he said.

The losses were devastating to Mero, who said surrounding yourself with people focused on pills, drugs and alcohol, “leads to broken hearts and dreams.”


Bullying and suicide

Reflecting on his own family losses, as well as his experiences being bullied as a child, Mero said today he wants to do whatever he can to make sure children know they matter. He said the advent of social media, where students can read hateful comments anytime, is particularly damaging.

“Your words can kill,” he said, adding when someone hears the same criticisms enough times, “your perception becomes your reality.” 

Mero said it is important for children to know they can talk to their parents about being depressed, and he challenged students to make a difference in each other’s lives.  

“We need to open up and talk about this,” he said, referring to suicide. 


Happiness and hope

After all Mero lost, he said he wants to spread his message because he has unlocked the secret to happiness. “We can all make the difference in somebody’s life,” he said.

Mero especially stressed spending time with family, living in the moment and repairing broken relationships. “I hope and pray my heartbreak is your wake up call,” Mero said.