PITTSBURGH — From years of depression and three suicide attempts to a role model and inspiration. Tre Tipton is known for football, first at Apollo Ridge High School and now at the University of Pittsburgh. But he’s also getting national attention for his work off the field.
“One of the things I’ve always wanted to be, even as a child, I don’t think the job occupation has ever changed since then. I’ve always wanted to be a superhero and until this day that’s all I want to be,” Tipton said.
Add that to the list of Tipton’s accomplishments. At just 23 years old, he’s already been a high school and college football star, plus a college graduate and a graduate student. Now he’s CEO of his own nonprofit called L.O.V.E., which stands for Living Out Victoriously.
“L.O.V.E. came from every injury I ever had,” Tipton explained. “I was extremely depressed as a kid and going into my college days. I had a lot of issues with suicide and figuring out myself and figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Football was always my getaway, the one thing that allowed me to be myself and just relax and be the person that I am. When that was taken away from me, my depression increased. It got to the point where I was just tired of being tired.”
Tipton said the many injuries that sidelined him at Pitt led him to a crossroads. He said he struggled a lot, but ultimately chose to pull himself out of the dark and become a light for others like him.
“Essentially what we do is take student athletes who deal with anything, and we help build communities. Our goal honestly is to teach people how to trust and identify themselves, like, ‘Who am I outside of my sport and what do I do.’ And then, after that, we try to build their confidence and appreciation toward certain things,” Tipton said.
Tipton’s work is getting national attention. In December, he was awarded the 2019 Freddie Solomon Community Spirit Award. In October, while visiting the Hill District Youth Football team, he was surprised with an award to the 2019 All-State Good Works Team. Only 22 student-athletes nationwide were given the honor. Tipton gave an inspirational speech to the young team after getting the award, urging them to pursue their dreams and be there for one another.
The Good Works Team will be honored at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1.
Tipton said he is still growing L.O.V.E. and has many ideas moving forward. He and the team around him want to visit and speak in more local schools and spread their message. He invites anyone to contact him or L.O.V.E. through social media - @Tipton_05 and @alll_o_v_e.
For now, he said, everyone can help grow his message and live out victoriously.
“I always ask people, did you smile today? Because that’s hard. It’s not easy to wake up and smile every day,” Tipton said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to just be able to wake up so why not smile. Why not finish the day strong? So, if you want to help us out truly, smile. Give a smile to somebody else and you’ll be doing all and more for us.”
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