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CBN.com “Everyone’s gotta price. Everyone’s gonna pay.”
That was the motto of former WW superstar, Ted DiBiase -- better known as, “The Million Dollar Man.”
"His god is money, and everybody’s got a price," Ted recalls. "I've got more money than you, and because I have more money than you, I'm obviously better than you. [I'd] flaunt it in lavish arrogance."
Ted wasn’t always a grappler. He grew up in a Catholic home and says church was his life.
"My faith as a kid was from the heart," he says. "So I had a child-like faith. I was there every day. There might not be anybody there but me and the priest, but I was there because it was important to me."
His family was important as well. Ted’s dad was former professional wrestler “Iron Mike” DiBiase. Wrestling was in his blood.
"My dad was my hero. I liked all the good guys, but my dad was a heel. I just made a decision that that was okay."
When Ted was only 15, his dad died of a heart attack in the wrestling ring. What does that do to a 15-year-old kid?
"It’s trauma," Ted confesses. "I can remember that like it was yesterday. I spent a lot of nights in the cemetery where my dad was buried crying out to God. I was asking Him to give me the skill, the talent, and the ability to be that athlete."
Following in his father's footsteps, Ted accepted a college football scholarship. But by his junior year, an injury forced him to the sidelines. Ted didn’t return for his senior season. He had other goals in mind.
"My dad never wanted me to wrestle, but my attitude was: 'It was good enough for you, Dad; it will be good enough for me.'"
So that year, the summer of ’75, Ted began his career as a professional wrestler. He married Melanie, and life looked good. But he soon found himself in an unfamiliar place.
He says, "I began to do the things then that I wouldn’t do before. Go out and have a beer with the guys. You know you have a beer, and it turns into two and a six pack. You wake up with a hangover, and you don’t go to church. Friday and Saturday always come before Sunday. So you start missing church, and pretty soon you’re not going. That’s the road I took."
Ted had obviously paid his dues. He’d known the wrestling business since childhood and spent 12 years working his way up the ranks until finally his big break came.
Ted was always in character. He recalls WWE President Vince McMahon telling him, "The way we’re going to market 'The Million Dollar Man' is we’re going to try and make the world believe you're rich. We’re gonna fly you all over the country first class. Every time you get off the plane in the airport to go to the hotel--limousine!"
Ted says, "The only two wrestlers at that time that got that treatment were Hulk Hogan, who was the goose that laid the golden egg, so to speak, and Andre the Giant. Quite frankly Andre was too big to go any other way. But yeah it was unbelievable. Vince says, ‘Man, just go in, buy a newspaper and throw down an $100 bill.' It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it."
Ted had got money and he had success…
"I mean at the very top of my success, I called home one day and my wife confronted me," he says. "She had found out that I was fooling around, and at the time, I said I didn’t want to talk about it on the phone. I’d be on the next plane home. She said, ‘No, you won’t. You don’t live here anymore.’ Click! First thing, I cried out to God, and it’s so hypocritical. 'Oh God, help me! What have I done?' The realization is immediate. You look in the mirror and you go, 'You fool!'"
Ted realized "The Million Dollar Man" was nothing without God.
"That’s when I finally cried out to God and said, 'No longer my will, but Yours. I keep messing it up. You’ve let me have all that I ’ve hoped or dreamed for. I know now God that You let me have it to prove something to me -- that it’s all meaningless without You."
Although his wife Melanie had given her life to Christ years earlier, she still had to do some healing of her own.
"She came to me and said, 'I think you mean it. I'd like to think you do. I've gotta pray about it. I have to decide whether you’re sorry or just sorry you got caught. But either way I'm compelled to forgive you.' That blew me away. She said, 'I'm not going to make a promise I can’t keep. I'm not sure I'm strong enough, but because I know my God is a God of restoration and not divorce, I'm willing to give you a chance.'"
Ted has made the best of that second chance Jesus and Melanie have given him. He says he and Melanie are best friends and are closer than ever. He’s out of the ring now and teaching men how to give their struggles to God through his Heart of David Ministry.
"My Savior said, 'I came to set the captive free.' The decision I made was not just my decision, but it was a decision to entrust my marriage and all that I am to Him and it’s gone! When you release it and you let go of the bitterness and anger and you forget about the past and go forward, that’s the only way that can work. It’s an amazing God we have."
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