Rather than kicking down observers with his “Sweet Chin Music” finishing move, wrestler Shawn Michaels used his mouth and his heart to reach out to a group of Holy Family University graduating seniors.
The World Wrestling Entertainment superstar who dubs himself “The Heartbreak Kid” or “HBK,” Shawn Michaels was awarded the Holy Family Community Service Award by Sister Francesca Onley, CSFN, as part of the school’s Tribute to Community Service day, May 10. “The Lord’s got a plan for all of us,” said Michaels, “I’ve learned that much, if nothing else. Each of your missions should be to find it, and to not wait until you are forty like I did.”
By night, Shawn Michaels is a multiple-time heavyweight champion and a wrestling superstar. Each day, he retires to his “normal” home in San Antonio with his wife Rebecca and young children Cameron and Cheyenne.
He was invited by several members of a Criminal Justice class taught by Dr. Leanne Owen, an assistant professor for the School of Arts and Sciences. Owen is also a wrestling fan. “It is great to have Shawn Michaels here. He is a man who doesn’t go out and advertise all that he does for the community, which makes him an excellent example of Holy Family’s core values,” said Owen. “It really shows how there is a human side to all of this, and to him. Shawn Michaels is more than just a pro wrestler.”
In 1998, a serious back injury seemingly ended Michaels’ wrestling career and the only lifestyle he had ever known. When he was able to return to competition in 2002, Michaels felt “born again” as a role model, no longer obsessed with the performances that once consumed him. Michaels exchanged headlocks and sleeper-holds for International Children’s Hope and other San Antonio-based charities.
According to Owen,” as his colleague and fellow wrestler Kevin Nash said of him: ‘Shawn Michaels has a lot of things in his life – and wrestling is just one of them now.’ ”
“I do the best that I can,” Michaels said. “Three years ago, my life changed when I was quietly inspired to turn to the Lord. My wife Rebecca never said a word, but she did lead by example.
“The reason I have all of these [wrestling] accomplishments is because I am really, really good at what I do. But it took me 20 years to see how I should be using my gift. When I wasn’t doing all that I could, [God] took me out of it for a little while. I think of the song ‘Amazing Grace’ and I thank the Lord every day for showing this wretch the way.”
“A lot of people fail to see him as a human person because of how he is portrayed on TV. We aren’t necessarily aware of what he cares for. The truth is he is like the personification of our core Holy Family values. He is bound by his responsibilities,” said graduating Senior and Juniata resident Karen McCabe. “I really like Shawn Michaels as a person now that I have gotten to known him.”
“I am honored he took the time to come to this little school in Northeast Philadelphia,” added senior Tiffany Jurowicz of Bensalem. “Regardless of the person people think he is – as a wrestler – he is a man very proud of who he is and what he has managed to accomplish during his career.”
“I am very honored to be here today,” continued Michaels. “For a college to take the time to recognize me – a wrestler – when you could have chosen anyone, is very humbling. You are recognizing me for what I should always have been doing. Throughout your lives, there are going to be lots of people telling you not to be you. Don’t let them tear you down. Don’t wait until you are 40 to find yourself. I beg you all to do me one favor: don’t compromise. What you have is where it is at.”