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An inspiring story of perseverance and hard work... from The Undertaker

Before he was The Undertaker, Mark Calaway was going to be in the NBA. Standing 6-foot-8, Calaway played basketball at Texas Wesleyan before leaving school to pursue a career in professional basketball. When that didn't work out, Calaway decided to turn his fan of professional wrestling into a career.

But the path to wrestling stardom isn't quite as easy as "sign up, become The Undertaker." As he explained to the Texas football team on Thursday, Calaway went to his local wrestling gym weekly for eight months before getting so much as a tryout.

“For me, I didn’t have anyone in the wrestling world … trying to get my foot in the door was virtually impossible. The fact that everybody told me that I was a fool for leaving and going my own thing, I wouldn’t accept any help from anybody, I was stubborn that way, I was like, you know what, I’m gonna go out and do this my way, and if I fall, I’m gonna pick myself up and I’ll figure it out. That’s where living in my truck came … I was living in my truck, bouncing in bars — a 20-year-old kid trying to break up all these red neck fights. But hey, I did what I had to do to survive.

“It was a very slow process. I used to go down to the old Sportatorium … For eight months, every Wednesday, I went down there and sat at the office. I watched them walk right by me, didn’t acknowledge me, didn’t say hello to me, didn’t tell me to get the hell in or get the hell out … One day, Fritz Von Erich walked in the door. Fritz Von Erich walked in, he looked at me, didn’t say anything but still, he walked in another room and I heard him say, ‘Who’s the big red-headed kid?’ … He says, ‘Let’s book him for Friday night.’ He booked me because I looked like his son. I was just in the right place at the right time, and my perseverance paid off, and all the doors that got slammed in my face, I got my start because I looked like the older son that he had lost, and that set me on my course."

The Undertaker took that opportunity and ran with it, now passing the 30-year mark as a professional wrestler. He impressed to the Longhorns that their path to success won't be any easier just because they earned a football scholarship at Texas.

“But it’s not easy," he said. "Just because you’re at the finest university in the country doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy to you guys either. What it boils down to is the passion and desire to be great, and you do it every day. Man, I bet my heart rate was 180 watching you guys going through that drill. It brought me back to when I was 18 or 19 and thought I could rule the world too. And that’s what you guys gotta do every day. You gotta work like that, you gotta work in front of your coaches like that, and you gotta work like that when there ain’t nobody watching. You wanna be great, you can be great. You have to separate yourself from everybody else.

“Don’t say ‘I can’t,’ say, ‘I will.’ Man, I tell you what, I feel it. I feel it. I haven’t felt it in a while, but you guys, this is a special group, man, and I’m honored to be in front of you talking."

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