AUSTIN (KXAN) — Most people in Austin know Tyler Campbell as the son of legendary Texas Longhorns running back Earl Campbell. However, Tyler is gaining a following of his own for his newest effort to inspire others with multiple sclerosis.
“I have learned confidently that life is full of tragic moments,” he said, “but you are dealt this story so that you can help other people.”
And so, Tyler shares his story filled with several setbacks to motivate others.
“I knew I needed to take the disease as far as I could. And that is why I became the first one to ever play Division I college football with MS.”
It is remarkable, especially considering this football star shied away from the game as a kid. He said he was an introvert who preferred to read superhero comic books in his room. Still, his athleticism was undeniable, but it took a lot of convincing for Tyler to believe it.
As a kid, he never thought he could measure up to his dad.
“It was pressure because people couldn’t figure out why Earl Campbell’s son wasn’t as up to par,” he said, “and remember, I have an older brother who was out of this world, lights out.”
Tyler admits the pressure did not come from his parents, but rather from himself.
“When I think about my childhood, I think about a lot of love for my dad, I think of him not being ashamed to hug us, to ask for a kiss on the cheek,” he said. “I just did not yet know how to apply those principles to myself in terms of learning to value me.”
By the time he was 16, college coaches offered him spots on their teams.
“It was nothing more rewarding to be 16 years old and to walk into my parents’ room and tell them, ‘You’re not going to have to come up with college tuition for me. Because it is going to be paid for, I’m going to be a college football player,'” he said.
However, the attention from news outlets and coaches made Tyler uncomfortable. He said he was not ready. “I was not mature enough,” he said. “The only time I would be happy honestly, is when I would drink alcohol.”
And after a bad night, those coaches pulled their offers.
It would take some time for self-reflection and plenty of hard work, but Tyler eventually earned a scholarship to San Diego State University. That is when life dealt him another challenge. After playing a football game, he woke up and could not move or speak.
“I learned at the age of 21 that I have multiple sclerosis and I had never heard of it before.”
Tyler works to make sure others are familiar with this disease and will understand what to do with a diagnosis. He now works to educate and inspire underserved communities of color about MS.
“It is very scary. Neurologists, doctors, pharma companies, they can’t figure out why MS attacks Black men specifically, so aggressively, more so than any other gender in any other race. So that is why I took my body so fast, without warning,” he said.
Now, this comic book reader crafted one of his own. He has a comic book filled with pictures of his MS diagnosis and fight. Today, Tyler is also an inspirational radio show host on The Horn 104.9 and he is now an author. His autobiography, The Ball Came Out: Life From The Other Side Of The Field, is an Amazon bestseller.
What Tyler is most proud about, however, is being a dad.
“Who cares about anything else? They think I’m super. And for me, that registers because that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.”
It’s amazing how life comes full circle, the young man who once loved reading about superheroes is now a superhero to so many, including his three children.
Tyler is hosting a virtual MS event May 12 for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Registration information can be found on the MSAA website. He is also hosting the Black MS Summit put on by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in June.