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Interview: Ted DiBiase Jr. on His Father the Million Dollar Man, His Mother, Identity Crisis, and ‘The Price of Fame’

Our next featured guest is a retired 3rd-generation professional wrestler. A Southern Heavyweight Champion in Florida Championship Wrestling and a 2-time World Tag Team Champion while in WWE, he’s the son of Hall of Fame legend Million Dollar Man. Today he’s focused on being a good husband, father, life coach, VP of Business Development for One Life, and leader with Heart of David Ministry. He also filmed the documentary ‘The Price of Fame’ about the not-entirely-glamorous career of his famous father. Please welcome to…Ted DiBiase Jr.! Ted, your father’s the legendary Million Dollar Man, but you had a pretty good run too. When the two of you talk about the highs of your professional wrestling careers can you still feel the audiences?


ted-dibiase-jr-million-dollar_display_image_2347Ted DiBiase Jr.: I was very goal-conscience going into the wrestling world. My ultimate goal was to wrestle at WrestleMania. And I did. I’ll never forget walking out in front of 74,000 people in Scottsdale, Arizona at WrestleMania 26, and I was the first guy out. For that moment all eyes were on me, and I was wrestling Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes. You could literally feel it all around you. All those people screaming and reacting to your every move. It’s hard to put into words. It’s one of those things you’ve just got to experience. It’s one thing being in the crowd. It’s another when you generate that crowd response. Can you become addicted to the ovation?


Ted DiBiase Jr.: It is intoxicating. I’ve never done drugs, but I can’t image there’s anything else out there that can make you feel the way that does. It’s powerful. You yearn for it every night. I think that’s why a lot of guys when they leave, they get addicted to the roar of the crowd. It’s like a drug. They’re addicted to that response and that reaction because that’s where they’re finding their affirmation, and their identity. That was the danger for me and my father. We don’t identify ourselves as wrestlers or Superstars anymore. Number one, I’m a child of God. I’m saved by grace. I’m a husband and I’m a father, and I’m a server of the Lord. That’s all the affirmation I need. You were the driving force behind the now acclaimed documentary ‘The Price of Fame’ which shows with all honesty the affect your father’s career had on your family. What was it like to film the truth?


Ted DiBiase Jr.: Well, the bible says the truth will set you free. It’s freedom. It’s like taking away a heavy boulder or removing a dark cloud that’s been hanging over your head. Or a mountain that’s been stuck on top of you, and you just pick away at it with an ax. When you get through the top it’s not dull anymore. You can see the blue sky. My dad had been sharing his testimony for years. He’d been an evangelist and ordained minister for a long time. I knew the story, and there was forgiveness before we made the doc. I’d just never sat down with my mother and father and had those one-on-one hard conversations about it. Those talks between a father and a son, a son and his hero, and a son and his mother and understanding her point of view. In the end there was redemption and beautiful restoration that only comes through the grace of God. It was pure freedom. As you learned more about your father while making the documentary, did this help you learn more about yourself as well?


The Price of FameTed DiBiase Jr.: 100%! What I wish was in the documentary was in the 3 years it took me to produce this documentary, I was actually going through an identity crisis. I stepped out of the WWE on faith in August 2013. They offered me another contract, a 5-year deal. I said no. I felt God was leading me out of it. I had a son and wasn’t going to be 300 days out of the year away from him. I wanted to be the husband my wife deserves. But wrestling was all I knew since college. They day after I graduated I drove to Eldon, Missouri and started training. Two years later I’m on TV, and traveling 300 days a year to wrestle on 6 continents. Then all of a sudden I don’t wrestle anymore. I’m home every day. What the heck do I do now? It makes sense that you would be left trying to find yourself.


Ted DiBiase Jr.: This documentary taught me a lot about my dad and what he really went through, the poverty that he lived in, him going to visit my grandfather’s grave – he died when my dad was 15. Understanding that, I grew a greater appreciation for what he was able to overcome against all the odds. An admiration of my mom for what she was able to overcome after my dad’s fall from grace. They gave me the example of the type of father and parent I want to become – a selfless, unconditional loving father that’s committed to his family, that’s committed to integrity and servant leadership. It drove me to work on me. You’ve mentioned that your father is your hero. Where does your mother rank?


Ted DiBiase Jr.: Just above my father! She hates even that being said but she’s the real hero. I think in their own right they both are. She’s kind of the unsung hero. My dad was the one in the spotlight. Everybody knows him worldwide. He’s a household name, especially in the wrestling world. But back on the home front 300 days a year there was my mom taking care of 3 boys. In the documentary you learn about the betrayal. Here’s my mom at home taking care of his boys while he’s on the road gallivanting and, ultimately, cheating. He was living out this false persona of the Million Dollar Man. My mom was strong enough to say, no, we’re not going to become a statistic. I’m going to stick this out for the sake of my children because it’s what Jesus did for us on the cross. She did her best to forgive him, and it wasn’t overnight. It took a long time. Did you know what was going on?


Ted DiBiase Jr.: What’s crazy is we kids had no idea! We didn’t know for years. We had no idea. Nothing ever seemed wrong. My mother never showed this hurt in front of us. She was a warrior through all of that. Her strength gives me an admiration for my mom – who I love with all my heart. You were able to get insight from some incredible storytellers for ‘The Price of Fame’. One who really stands out is Jim Ross. You also have Mick Foley who portrayed this loose cannon, yet in real life is this in-control writer who crafts wonderful narratives. What was it like to speak with people known for their characters about someone else’s real character?


Ted DiBiase Jr.: It was refreshing. When you’ve spent time with Jim Ross, Mick Foley, Roddy Piper, Shawn Michales… I really enjoyed my time with Shawn talking through this. I consider him a mentor in the business when I first got there. We had a little run together. I’m a fan, and he’s a guy I can call today. Hearing their stories and seeing the vulnerability that comes out of them when we’re talking about real life is powerful! I believe vulnerability is the nature of connectivity. And it connects! As a wrestler that’s our job; to connect with the audience, to engage them and tell these stories. It’s like watching a live movie that captivates them. But when you hear the truth, the hard, hard truth of what’s out there behind the scenes, behind the curtains, on the roads with their families at home, we can all relate. The pain you work through. The battle against the pills. There’s things in that industry that haunts so many guys. And I got to hear it from these guy’s hearts. They were sharing their stories in relation to your father but it sounds much bigger than that.


Ted DiBiase Jr.: It’s not about money and fame. The bibles says do not love the world or anything in the world, so if you love the world the father’s not in you. Store up your treasure in Heaven where rust and moths cannot destroy. If their stories changes a life, if it gives a kid hope, if it helps heal a marriage or give hope to a couple that’s struggling… What you do doesn’t define who you are, it’s who you become along the way. It’s what you do with what you’ve been given. That is what you hear in this documentary.|


CREDITS Written by Mr. Joe Walker | Photos – Search Engine Exploration | Ted DiBiase Jr. – as Himself | Producer – Liquid Arts & Entertainment | Creative Director – The Liquidation Committee | Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Copy Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Site Editor – Doug Sims | Webmaster – Doug Sims | Twitter – @LiquidAEMag | Instagram – @liquidmagazine

Liquid Arts & Entertainment is committed to presenting engaging conversations with top artists. We hope you enjoyed this interview with Ted DiBiase Jr.

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