One person delivering one message was all it took for Bradley Bozeman to want to do something.

“Be the type of person you’d want your daughter to date.”

That message came courtesy of ESPNSirusXM radio host/professional public speaker Rachel Baribeau, who recently shared those wise words to Bozeman and his former teammates at the University of Alabama.

Baribeau and Bozeman were already good friends, so after she spoke on campus she didn’t hesitate to ask the former Alabama offensive lineman for a favor. Baribeau wanted Bozeman to make a video and send it to a little girl who had been getting picked on at school. Baribeau even sent him screen shots of some of the messages that the little girl was being bullied with.

“It was some bad stuff,” Bozeman told Saturday Down South. “It was harsh.”

Instead of just making a video, Bozeman decided to do one better. He wanted to make the hour-trip from Birmingham to Pell City, Ala. to speak at the girl’s school. He and Baribeau tag-teamed the effort and Bozeman “fell in love with it.”

Speaking in front of kids about bullying spoke to him. In fact, it inspired him so much that he decided to start an anti-bullying campaign across the state of Alabama.

Not surprisingly, more than a couple of schools wanted to host the former Tide offensive lineman to speak on the subject of anti-bullying. In the first few days, he scheduled dates to visit different 4-5 schools in Alabama, and he’s already in talks with several others. Bozeman’s goal is to hit 20-25 schools in April.

“The impact that you can have on somebody’s life just by being kind to them or the other way by being a bully…that’s my main point of it.”
Former Alabama center Bradley Bozeman

And oh, by the way, he has the NFL Draft coming up in 3 weeks.

But while he has some time in the afternoons — he’s trying to speak at schools 3 days a week on his lighter training days — he wants to use his platform to spread a message that he’s passionate about.

“I don’t want to be just a ‘talk about it and not do anything about it,’” Bozeman said. “That’s why I went ahead and started a campaign. I’ve been jumping on it, trying to go to different places. I think a lot of our problem is people say, ‘Oh, that’s bad,’ but what are you actually doing about it?”

Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

When Bozeman speaks, he doesn’t read a speech or prepare notecards full of talking points. He speaks from the heart based on his life experiences.

As he likes to remind people, he wasn’t always a 6-5, 305-pound Alabama football player. Before he was earning All-America accolades and winning national titles, Bozeman was the big kid in class who wasn’t naturally athletic. Even with his size, he wasn’t immune to bullying.

“When I was a kid, I was picked on a good bit,” Bozeman said. “But I was lucky enough to have a really good support system at home. My mom, my dad and my brother backed me up. They gave me the self-confidence to know who I am.”

Bozeman admitted that things are different for kids now. Like with the girl in Pell City, cyber bullying is a major issue that he addresses. Dealing with bullying 24/7 compared to just between normal school hours only escalated the bullying epidemic.

As a result, he wants to grow the resistance.

“No. 1 is trying to get them to understand that bullying is a huge problem,” Bozeman said. “Four thousand kids a year commit suicide because of depression, bullying and so on and so forth. The impact that you can have on somebody’s life just by being kind to them or the other way by being a bully … that’s my main point of it.”

Bozeman actually did his first anti-bullying talk a few days removed from the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. Bullying and depression were reportedly at the root of the perpetrator’s motivation.

“I don’t want to be just a ‘talk about it and not do anything about it.' That’s why I went ahead and started a campaign."
Former Alabama center Bradley Bozeman

Other issues of bullying in schools recently made national headlines. Tennessee middle schooler Keaton Jones had a video go viral after he shared his heartbreaking experience with bullies. That prompted everyone from the Tennessee football team to LeBron James to offer their support of Jones and the anti-bullying movement.

Bozeman doesn’t have the reach of James or other big-time celebrities, but in the state of Alabama, the former Tide star certainly has a big enough voice to make a significant impact.

“Everyone should be using their platform,” Bozeman said. “Everyone has a platform. Some are bigger than others, but everyone has a voice. I feel like this type of thing and different causes across the board, you need to passionate about it. You don’t need do be half in. You either need to be full in or full out.”

Bozeman is definitely full in to end bullying. His selfless act came at a time in his life when it’d be pretty easy to be anything but that.

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to training for the NFL Draft and preparing for his professional career, Bozeman has a wedding on the horizon. He proposed to his girlfriend immediately after Alabama won the College Football Playoff National Championship (a moment that also went viral).

“When I was a kid, I was picked on a good bit. But I was lucky enough to have a really good support system at home. My mom, my dad and my brother backed me up. They gave me the self-confidence to know who I am.”
Former Alabama center Bradley Bozeman

Needless to say, the guy has a ton on his plate without driving around the state a few days a week. But while some might view the pre-NFL Draft period as a time to be self-focused, Bozeman viewed it as a time to hit the ground running with his campaign.

And to be clear, he doesn’t want this to end in April when he gets drafted. Bozeman wants to continue to speak at schools during the offseason. The issue is too important to him for his efforts to end when he gets his first NFL contract.

“It’s just something that’s really heavy on my heart. This is something that I really think is a big thing in our schools,” Bozeman said. “It starts with kids. Our future is our kids and the youth of America right now. What if we could change the mindset from being all about me? There’s no respect anymore. … I think if we can affect kids in a positive matter and give them the things that some kids don’t know. They just do it because they think it’s funny or it’ll impress their friends.

“But let’s give them the knowledge and the tools to be able to change the strain we have going.”

Bozeman doesn’t know what kind of impact he can make. Maybe it’s 5-6 kids per school who take something from his message, or maybe it’s much more than that. Either way, it’s worth it.

He’ll keep preaching the Golden Rule as much as he can.

“Just be kind to one another. Treat others the way you’d want to be treated,” Bozeman said. “It’s what we learned growing up, but it’s always been one of those things that’s thrown out there and never really backed up by anything. Just respect your neighbor. This world is not all about me.”

It doesn’t have to take a video going viral for people to take action. Words fuel bullying, but words can also take down bullying.

One person delivering one message can make all the difference.