T-Dub shines light for victims, after bullied past
HOME-GROWN rap sensation Tony 'T-Dub' Woodrow has reached out to Gympie bullying victim Brian Birchall by sharing his own emotional story.
The Sunshine Coast rapper, who has previously made headlines for his outspoken efforts in curbing drug and gang violence, went through his own years of school-yard torment in Gympie.
Now, the YouTube star, whose music clips regularly attract views in the hundreds of thousands, wants troubled youth to know that "bullying is not forever" and you can come out the other side and flourish.
"I was extremely skinny; I used to cop a lot about that - I was called a lot of names that obviously led to physical bullying."
Even though he used to fake sick to avoid facing each day he said it was just "standard bullying", but it gradually took a more serious and violent turn.
Two boys who were suspended for smoking returned to school seeking revenge: they found their "dobber": the stick-thin, academic kid shooting hoops at the school courts and jumped him from behind.
The solid five minutes of beating into the victim hunched on the ground ended.
Bruised and bloodied Mr Woodrow was left with a torn lower face from mouth to chin, leaving his lip flapping open.
Mr Woodrow said the serious incident triggered the early return of his father from an overseas work posting who enrolled him in classes with a former state boxing champion.
Under his wing, the troubled teen learnt self defence and the confidence of how to stand up for himself.
"The positive end to the story is I didn't have to go back to school and box," Mr Woodrow said.
"Word got around and it gave me more strut and step."
Basketball followed and when Mr Woodrow made the same state team as his bullies, life turned around.
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He wants any youth to know that there is always hope.
"It's not going to last forever," he said.
"It's tough, but there are a lot of phases in life.
"Let's not let any single challenge be the be all and end all of what is to come.
"If I'd given up at that age - I'd have no idea where I'd be now."
The Sunshine Coast father said while his skin is thicker for the experience, he's still not immune to the affects of cyber-bullying that come with his public profile.
"I try to take it in my stride but it can get you down.
"I've got a strong support group who build me up. I would love to be part of Brian's support team.
"We're just lucky he's still here."