MEMPHIS, Tenn. — "There are kids that are 11-years-old who are hanging themselves," said Kelly English.
Words that are hard to hear, yet true, spoken by someone who, himself, was bullied.
Bullying has been in the forefront of the conversation recently, with victims finding their voices, and telling their stories not only to our cameras, but to their parents and even school administrators.
They just want it to stop.
Now, a twist on that message from someone who has been on the receiving end of a bully's torments.
Memphis Chef Kelly English wants those kids who feel so alone to know, they are far from it.
"There’s not a single adult out there that hasn't felt poorly about themselves at some point," said a smiling English, pointing to the fact that bullying is nothing new.
Today, you would never dream that behind that smile, there are memories of a tormented past.
"My junior year of high school I didn’t eat lunch one time in my high school cafeteria. I would sit outside and read books. And I don’t' even know if my cafeteria at school sold food," English said.
Now Kelly is the first to tell you, his wasn't the physical abuse so many bullying victims face.
Despite trying too hard, he was the kid who wasn't allowed to fit it.
- Man shot and killed while sitting at stop sign, police say
- Mother after throwing child on ground, 'F*** you and that baby'
- Shots fired at horse drawn carriage in Downtown Memphis
- PHOTOS: Mid-South Most Wanted
"You don’t' want anybody to know. You don't want to tell your parents that you walk around feeling alone. Alone in a group of people," said English.
But now, he does want to talk about it.
English owns two restaurants in Memphis, another in Oxford, and operates another in Biloxi.
He's a social media star. He feeds the homeless every New Year’s Day. He has even been a star in the boxing ring, fighting for charity.
He has a message for the kid out there who's facing the fist of a bully tomorrow, "I would tell you that it's going to be just fine."
Kelly has seen the stories of bullying on FOX13. The pleas for help from teenager Jacob Vincent in
Germantown who went before the school board to ask for help, telling members how many times he'd thought about ending his own life.
And Bradley Dowdy in Fayette County who told FOX13 how he was physically attacked time after time by classmates.
"I would tell that kid if I hadn't been bullied in high school, I might not live in Memphis right now. I might not be a chef," said English when asked what message he would share.
"My dad told me when I was a kid, that people hate up. They treat people unfairly people they are threatened by. I think the first step in cracking that shell, is for adults who have been through it, to talk about it. Talking about it, managing it, talking about as adults what we've been through... you know what it's like. Especially if you have success in whatever industry you are in, I think you have a responsibility to share your story and let kids know that it’s gonna be alright."
Kelly stresses - do not go it alone.
If you are being bullied, talk to someone.
A parent, a teacher, or a pastor you trust. And as for the bullies out there? Kelly added, he's friends now with most of the kids who bullied him, pointing out, "They are not bad people. It's just hard being a kid on both sides of that."
Cox Media Group