Flip Rodriguez’s decision to open up about his experiences with sexual abuse took a ton of guts, and his mental toughness as well as being an inspiration for other people has made him one of American Ninja Warrior’s shining stars. Let’s face it, all these ninjas are awesome in their own right, and during an interview with Flip I asked him how, even in the face of tragedy, he refused to give up. Video of Rodriguez is available below!
In the video, Rodriguez talks about how Will Smith’s philosophy regarding how to build one’s universe brick by brick helped him on his path to a more positive and determined outlook on his own life. A big part of Rodriguez’s motivation is to also lift people up by sharing his story, as he added that having the support of American Ninja Warrior continues to push him to do better. I transcribed a portion of his answer below (since it’s very motivational), and the video (which also features Jessie Graff) is right below that!
Flip Rodriguez Discusses Developing His Mental Toughness:
“That is very tough. That came from childhood growing up (and) being sexually abused by a family member. It was tough for me because I went to that point of almost no return where the thought of ‘Okay cool if I wasn’t around no one would even mind’ or that process of ‘man I don’t want this to continue to happen to me so it’s just easier to give up and quit and just disappear.’
Once I got to that point, I was listening to Will Smith (through) interviews and his outlook on life and how he always said to make sure – you don’t set out to build a wall. You put one brick down as perfectly as you can at a time and then at some point you will have a wall.
When I got to that point of ‘I don’t even want to be a part of this anymore,’ I was like ‘Okay this was too far for me. This is too much. I need to change my life.’ And that was when I was 18 years old. I (needed) to make a change and through the inspirational words of Will Smith and listening to other motivational speakers – it clicked with me.
You don’t have to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. You don’t have to go through something that is tragic and don’t let that define you. As bad as it is to have been sexually abused, I wouldn’t take it back because that makes me the man I am today. This is why I am sitting here (doing the interview) with Jessie. If it wasn’t for that I probably wouldn’t have been sitting here because I would have been a different person.
Everything happens for a reason and to mentally get that tough is hard. I don’t think it’s easy. I’ve tried to talk to my friends (and) family to be mentally tough like that. Just one day, it clicked for me and I found it through Will Smith’s words. You just got to find someone that inspires you to want to do better and be better. It could be somebody on YouTube. It could be me. It could be Jessie. It could be you. It could be anybody. But you just gotta find that person that clicks with you and makes you just want to be better. You don’t even have to know the person. I don’t know Will Smith – I’ve never met him . . . that would be a dream come true for me to meet him. I had the pleasure of training his son Jaden Smith.
But that’s as close as I got. But before all that, I never even thought of meeting him – but his words just clicked with me and I understood it. There’s so much more to life than what happens to you … there’s so much more to get. There are so many more people that are looking for help or wanting inspiration or looking to meet you or whatever it is. There’s so much more to life than ‘okay this happened to me so I’m just going to live in this whole.’ Life is too sweet.”
**American Ninja Warrior airs Mondays on NBC (8/7c).