Baltimore Ravens’ Bradley Bozeman shared an anti-bullying message with Castaic Middle School on Wednesday morning.
Standing alongside his wife, Nikki Bozeman, the duo talked to students about the dangers and effects of bullying as part of their organization, the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation.
The talk is a part of the couple’s cross-country tour to engage students in discussions about bullying and what they can do to combat the growing issue.
During the assembly, the Bozemans both shared personal stories about their struggles with bullying.
“I was in sixth grade. I was six feet tall. I was around 260 pounds. I looked like Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I could have played the role,” said Bradley. “It affected me as a young kid.”
Bradley added that his family helped him through the bullying, saying “I was very fortunate. I had people, my mom and dad, to teach me the values and morals.”
He also mentioned how the bullying did not stop after middle and high school.
After getting drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft to the Baltimore Ravens, Bradley was thrown into the media storm of being a new NFL player.
“It was my coach telling me, ‘You’re the starter.’ The media is telling me, ‘You’re going to be a starter.’ I mean literally everyone and anyone is telling me, ‘You’re the best thing since sliced bread,’” said Bradley.
“I believed it. I bought into the hype because of what other people were saying, instead of continuing to be myself and keeping a level head and staying steady,” he continued. “I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I knew that I was starting to decline.”
Nikki added her own personal struggles to the conversation, saying, “When I was in middle school, I was probably around 5’10” or 5’11”. I was the only person that tall. There was one male teacher that was taller than me and that was it.”
She highlighted how the bullying started on the bus with one specific student always triggering it.
“Every day or every other day, he would make a point to talk about what I was wearing, how tall I was, how big my hands were. Some days he got multiple kids to make fun of me,” Nikki said. “They chanted Gigantor, man hands, sasquatch.”
Both Bradley and Nikki mentioned how having an outlet helped them on the roughest of days. For Bradley, it was football. For Nikki, it was basketball.
“I would go to the gym and spend hours there,” said Nikki. “When I walked in the doors of the auditorium, I was fun and happy.”
She continued to say how the gym got her out of the battle with bullies and name-calling that was outside the doors.
Both Bozemans stress the importance of taking a few minutes to think about what each student’s outlet is, whether it’s music, art or a sport. They also mentioned how having someone to talk to and trust is important in hard times.
“Whenever I was sad or mad, I would always find myself in the gym. The gym started to become my outlet,” Nikki said.
At the end of the assembly, the students were given a limited edition trading card of Bradley Bozeman. On the back is the following message:
“No one should be bullied — it’s not acceptable. It’s not okay to stand by and do nothing; it’s up to each of us to come together and take a stand!”
This message was followed by information on the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation and its website. From the website, students can email questions, comments or concerns directly to the Bozemans.
“We answer thousands of emails from 1,500 people that have reached out,” said Nikki. “That’s why we are doing what we are doing.”
To follow the Bozemans’ journey or to donate to the foundation, click here.