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May 7, 2024 78 mins

Embarking on a voyage through the darkest crevices of the human heart, Kelly Kirk joins us with a tale that grips the soul, revealing the wrenching agony of losing loved ones to violence. His courage in exposing the depths of his grief fosters a profound understanding of how we navigate the aftermath of tragedy, igniting a conversation that grapples with the age-old adage: is it better to have loved and lost?

Love and loss intertwine in an unexpected romance that blossomed against the backdrop of barbells and bench presses, and the subsequent upheaval of losing everything. The tale takes a poignant turn with the sudden loss of Kelly's long-time girlfriend, Sofia, a stark reminder of life's fleeting nature. We explore the intricate process of healing, from maintaining rituals and cherishing memories, to the daunting task of moving forward with a heart forever changed by an irreplaceable love.

Finally, we turn to the redemptive power of physical fitness and its profound impact on mental well-being, highlighted by the initiatives of the Sofia Graham Foundation. Through the lens of personal experiences with loss and renewal, we discuss how exercise serves as a beacon of hope and recovery. The conversation veers into the mystical as we share stories of signs from beyond, providing solace amidst sorrow. As we close, the idea of "failing forward" emerges as a testament to the human spirit's tenacity, underscoring the potential for growth through adversity and the relentless pursuit of excellence that defines our journey.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Fuzzy Mike, the interview series, the
podcast, whatever Kevin wants tocall it.
It's Fuzzy Mike.
Hello and thank you for joiningme.
I'm Kevin Kline, your host ofthe Fuzzy Mike, where we get
entertaining and helpfulconversations on mental health
and self-improvement.

The idea for this episode wasgiven to me by a very good
friend of mine, melanie.
Recently, one of Melanie'sdoggies, eli, went over the
Rainbow Bridge and when I foundout I reached out to check on
her and share my sympathy.
She asked if I could do anepisode on grief.
I thought it was a great idea.

So in this episode we're goingto answer the questions is it
better to have loved and lostthan to never have had that love
at all?
And how do we grieve a loss?
My guest today is Kelly Kirk.
Kelly's a Maxwell LeadershipCertified Coach, teacher,
trainer and Speaker, as well asa professional bodybuilder.

His story and what he'sovercome and how he did it is
filled with tragedy andinspiration.
May 15th 2003,.
Your post on Facebook saidabout five years ago I decided I
had a story after all, that I'dbeen through the kids murders.
You had a niece and nephewmurdered.

Speaker 2 (01:22):
Yeah, so in 2009,.
You had a niece and nephewmurdered.
Yeah, so in 2009,.
Seven, eight, somewhere aroundthere, I had just opened up a
So it was kind of my two bestfriends that I grew up with.
We decided we were going toopen up our own business.
We wanted to own a gym and thethree of us went into business
That's a whole story.
Never go into business withyour best friends or family.

But about maybe a year into itso probably 2008, I guess 2009
at this point, my nephew andniece, my brother's kids, my
brother and his wife weredivorced.
She had remarried, hadremarried a park ranger, police
officer in the county that I'min here in Prince William in
Police officer in the in theCounty that I'm in here in

Prince William and Virginia andyou know the kids.
It was typical divorce.
The kids would come see mybrother, you know, every Tuesday
and Wednesday and Saturday andSunday.
They had them split, kind ofwent back and forth.
Well, the husband came home onenight and was upset with his
They got in an argument whichcouples do.
He went downstairs, got hisservice revolver, came back

upstairs and shot her in thehead three times.
Okay, you know that's awful,but it happens a thousand times.
You know a more.
You know a day around thecountry that that crazy stuff
What he did after that waswhere it really changed.
He, this was about 10 o'clockat night.
He walked down the hallway andwalked into my niece's room I'm

sorry, my nephew's room first,connor, who was already asleep,
and put his hand on his face andput the gun here and shot him
in the face.
Brittany, his sister, my niece,jumped up, ran to the door, he
grabbed her by the face and shother um, kind of blew out the
bottom of her, her face and neck, um, and then walked downstairs

past his mom who lived with him, told his mom to go lock
herself in her bedroom and hewalked outside and called police
And again he was a policeofficer.
So he had back numbers andeverything.
Hey, where's Sergeant so-and-so?
Is he working today?
Yeah, I need you to patch methrough him.
And, for lack of a better word,there was a county to you know

a murder, which, which?
How is the county?
How are the police going tohandle this?
Like you're, you're friendswith the chief of police, the
captain, you know whoever it wasand you could hear in the phone

Just you know the crazy stuffthat went on.
So Brittany ended up livingabout four hours.
She passed away about twoo'clock that night.
They medevaced her out livingabout four hours.
She passed away about twoo'clock that night.
They medevaced her out Seeingher.
After all of that my brother andI went into the operating room.

They asked if they wanted tosee her and we did, and I'd had
a pretty easy life up until thatpoint.
I think pretty much everythingI'd ever wanted in life I got.
If I wanted a job, I went andhad it.
I wanted a girlfriend, I wanteda car, you name it.
I mean everything went great.
I was senior class president inhigh school, captain of the
wrestling team, captain of thebaseball.
Life was pretty easy and thatwas pretty much my first kick in

the gut, for lack of a betterword.
Um, and just seeing her, um,and you know what she had been
through, seeing the 17 surgeonsat Fairfax hospital with tears
in their eyes, um, and walkinginto the operating room after,
after she passed, uh, you know,burns an image in your brain,

You just never forget.

Speaker 1 (05:00):
Yeah, I'll give you a massive amounts of credit there
, because I don't know if Icould have taken it upon myself
to walk into that emergency roomand seeing my niece like that.

Speaker 2 (05:10):
Yeah, and I don't know that I could have alone,
but my brother wanted to.
So you know, whatever mybrother's four years older than
me and he was my hero growing up.
So whatever he wanted, you knowthat's that's what I would have
I would have backed him up ahundred percent, no matter what.
And um, it was, it wasdifficult.
I remember Brittany's head, fromall the fluid and everything

they were pumping in and blood.
Her head, it didn't look human,it was just swollen.
The whole body was swollen andmassive and her beautiful blue
eyes were still open and youcould still she was, she was 13.
She had perfume on and she hada cute little necklace.
You know still had that stuffon.
So you could tell that it washer and but uh, it was.

It was rough and, and probablythe one of the the harder things
that I still deal with for thisday is my brother passed away.
That day I lost my brother.
My brother died that day, youknow, not physically, but
everything inside of him.
You know we're 15 years laterand he's still on disability and

still hasn't been able to, youknow, come to grips with
And my brother was a fantasticbusinessman.
He was vice president of alarge repository company flew
around the world, worked withthe Korean army repository
company, flew around the world,worked with the Korean army, I
mean all kinds of differentstuff, and this, just you know,
really, really took it away fromhim.
So it was very hard after thatto watch.

You know somebody that Iworshiped growing up.
You have to go throughsomething that most people
luckily never experienced.

Speaker 1 (06:39):
So what's a stronger emotion in him?
Is it the grief of the loss ofhis two children, or is it the
anger towards the murderer?

Speaker 2 (06:47):
Probably the grief.
To be honest with you, in thebeginning they drugged my
brother up so much the doctorsdid that he honestly never faced
the grief or the anger in thebeginning.
He was very numb for the firstfew years and you know, three or
four years into it, you knowthey had him and I don't know

what the meds were, but you knowdifferent, all kinds of
different antipsychotics andstuff to help sleep and stuff to
level you out, and you know onemedicine you have to take
another one.
It was just crazy and he wasn'thimself, he couldn't work, he
really couldn't function and hefinally got to the point where
he said you know, I don't, Idon't want to do this anymore.
This is not who I am.
I want to come off of all thiscrap and get my life back.

You know how do I do it and Iremember the doctors telling him
and him telling us about it.
You know well you're going tohave to face everything all over
again because you never reallywent through it.
So you know, five, I'd say five, six years after it happened my
brother came off of all of thisand really had to go through it
You know the loss almost for afirst time.

So I think it's just the griefand the change in his life.
You know that his kids were his, were his life, um, you know,
married or divorced.
So, um, nobody should, shouldyou know, lose their kids before
before them.
You know.

Speaker 1 (08:12):
Um, and, as you said, your brother, who's a little
older than you, is your hero.
What are you doing for him atthis time?
I mean, how can you, how canyou be there for somebody who's
in that deep of distress?

Speaker 2 (08:25):
At that point it was.
It was difficult.
I mean, my entire family wassix months after my nephew and
niece passed away.
My mom, who had been relativelyhealthy, she had been through
some strokes and medical issuesbut was doing good.
She passed away in her sleepand you know, we kind of felt
like that was mom going to takecare of her grandkids, like she
needed to.
You know, be there Um.

30 days after that my dad, um,who had always been healthy,
You know, until he was almost80, um started having memory
He would come upstairs and say,uh, hey, I'm gonna, I'm gonna
go upstairs and make me a cup ofum.
Uh, hey, I'm gonna, I'm gonnago upstairs and make me a cup of

um coffee.
Yeah, yeah, like small thingshe couldn't remember.
Took him to the doctor.
Doctor said you know, it'sprobably just grief and stress
from the kids and you losingyour wife and all, but let's run
some tests.
They run a test and he has astage four um tumor in his brain
Oh my gosh.
And said you know, he mighthave 30 days, 60 days, 90 days.
They didn't know.
Um had a friend that I went toelementary school with who owns

a cancer center out in this area.
We went out and saw him andthey were just phenomenal.
Um, I would never forget one ofthe best conversations.
So to give you an idea of kindof who my family is and kind of
how we dealt with stuff I'llnever forget.
They're sitting there andthey're telling my dad that you
know, the radiologist and theoncologist and all are talking

to him.
My sister and my brother and Iare all sitting there and we're
holding back tears.
You know, we know what thismeans.
This is bad.
They're telling my dad well,you know, we're going to go
through chemo, we're going to gothrough radiation.
Mr Kirk, they said you are whatwe like to call in the medical
industry, a tough son of a bitch.
So we are going to throw it allat you.
You know you're 80 years old,but we're going to give it to

you like you're 30.
And if you can't handle it,we're back it off.
But I feel like that, you know,and of course my brother and
sister and I.
There's a million questions.
You know, can he live?
Can he make it through this?
Is he going to be sick?
I mean all this stuff, not mydad.
My dad says I just really haveone question.

And the doctor says sure, whatis it?
He goes am I going to lose myhair?
The doctor looked at him andwalks over and pats him on the
back and goes no, superman,you're going to be okay.
What we do, your hair is notgoing to fall out.
My dad was like, okay, yeah,this is good, let's do this.
So it was one of those timesthat I will absolutely never

forget and it just kind of tellsyou that's how my family has
You know everything as we'vegone through it and I, you know
I certainly learned a lot frommy mom and dad and brother, but
that was one of those thingsthat my brother and sister and I
still laugh about.
All my dad was worried about isam I going to look good?
I know I'm going through thiscrap, but I'm as my.
Don't make me lose my hair, youknow Sure.

So the support for my brotheryou know losing his kids was all
over the place because within18 months we lost Brittany and
Connor, we lost my mom and welost my dad.
So dad ended up making it abouta year.
Um did fantastic, um ended upbeating the cancer.
But you know, through goingthrough chemo and radiation and

everything else he ended up withum some complications with
thrush in his throat and someother infections.
You know, it's just it's.
It's bad at that point.
You know the you beat thecancer and something else gets

Speaker 1 (11:51):
Yeah, we do.
My wife and I do a lot of workwith pediatric cancer patients
and it's it's basically, youknow, the chemotherapy attacks
every organ, whether it'shealthy or or unhealthy, and
yeah, that's's.
That's what we're trying tofund is better treatments and
better yeah, so yeah, you knowand um.

Speaker 2 (12:12):
So it was it.
You know, the whole family wasgrieving over the kids.
We were grieving over mom, wewere grieving over dad and
everybody was, of course, youknow, worried about my brother
still is to this day.
Um, as soon as I'm done, I'mactually going up to meet him to
go work on cars and mess withstuff that my dad was a mechanic
So we grew up to, you know,piddling with cars and race cars

and doing stuff, and my brotherand I, almost every weekend,
still get together and work oncars and do stuff.
But there wasn't really there'snever a right way or a wrong way
to support somebody goingthrough any of this.
And you know, I know thatfirsthand, but nobody really
knew how do you support mybrother?
I mean, there was support thatcame in from all over the world.

This was an international story.
I had friends in India thatwere sending me messages.
I heard what happened.
I mean, it was just a hugestory.
You know, a police officermurders his wife and then two
kids, and you know all that.
All that happened.
It was just, I don't know thatto support him was just
literally being there forwhatever he was.

You know, there was a lot oftimes where I would say for
probably the first six, seven,eight years we didn't see my
You know he wouldn't come outof the basement, basically for
Christmas, for holidays, forbirthdays or anything, he didn't
want to be around it.
And I remember thinking, well,that can't be the best way.
I understand differently now.

But at that point, you know, Ilooked at that and thought is
that really the you know theright way?
Well, there is no right orwrong way.
Now it's very different.
Now my brother's at you knowevery family event we have and
you know, runs around with allmy great nephews and nieces.
So my nephew and nieces, mybrother's nephew, both of our

nephew nieces, their kids areanywhere between one and 13 now.
So my brother's in the middleof all that and loves that.
I mean, he was a fantastic dad,so it's good to see him.
You know part of all that.
But there's, you know, like Isaid, I lost my brother that day
as well as my nephew and niece.
And fast forward a few yearsafter that all happened and I'm

running the gym, my partners andI had a business falling out.
I ended up walking away fromthe gym, went to corporate said
I want this business back, Idon't like the way it's being
They said hang in, if you wantit, you'll get it back.
They're going to lose it.
Long story short, they did andI came back in.
The business was struggling andI came in and I remember
sending out an email, a textmessage, to my entire family.

I said the gym is mine, I'mback.
I said I need some help, allhands on deck for me to make
this gym survive.
I need as much help as I canfrom anybody, anywhere, whatever
you guys can, whether it'sworking at the front desk or
helping me with books orwhatever.
Seven o'clock the next morningmy brother came walking into the
gym and he never left until thedoors closed three, four years

later and he was, you know, justabsolutely a huge part of it.
People at the gym loved him.
My brother knew businessbackwards and forwards, knows
business backwards and forwards,you know, helped with books and
loans and money and just thecustomer service aspect.
And you know, he and I beingable to be there and be together
and laugh and joke around andand just be part of it.
And again, everybody at the gymknew his story.

I mean, you want to talk about acommunity that rallied together
That was really my first impacton, or my first eye opening
experience with, the impact thatthe gym community, you know,
kind of has.
So, um, it was, there was nospecifically.

I guess he supported us as muchas we did him, you know, yeah,
um, and then you know, fastforward how many years later,
when I'm going through it myself, um, nobody was there more for
me, you know, than my brother,and he, I mean the instance that
happened, he knew kind of whatto say and now, and I mean I'll
go hang out with him thisafternoon, and there was a long
period of time where my brotherwouldn't talk about Brittany and


Speaker 1 (16:14):
Just he, just you know that's not what I'm talking

Speaker 2 (16:17):
Yeah, and now I talk about him all the time, you know
, and my deal with Sophia.
I know we'll get to that, but Iwant to talk about every
conversation she comes up andthere's a lot of people that are
uncomfortable with that.
You know they're.
Oh, did he just mention her?
You know people will say in thegym hey, have you ever eaten

over at that?
You know, korean barbecue.
Oh man, that's Sophia and I'sfavorite.
We love that place and I'llkind of see people go Sophia,
like is it okay?
Did he mention him?
You're not going to cry, like Imight cry, I don't know, but
I'm still going to talk abouther.
Um, my brother wasn'tnecessarily like that in the
beginning, you know.
Um, he is now.

So now it's great we can haveconversations about the kids and
funny things they did and so,um, and the same thing with
So it's, you know I I'vewatched him come through a lot
and really grow through it overthe last.
I guess almost it'll be 15years this February.
Um, what happened?

Speaker 1 (17:16):
to the murderer.

Speaker 2 (17:18):
He got six consecutive life sentences so
he'll never see the light of day.
He's in lockdown, 23 and a halfhours um in solitary, because
he's a cop and a kid killer sothey can't put him in general
population or he'll be murderedin five minutes.
So, yeah, he's at a facilitydown in Southern Virginia
somewhere and he'll never, eversee the light of day.

And you know, in the beginningI remember thinking, you know,
we all wanted the death penalty.
Oh, and I don't care what yourpolitical or religious views are
when something happens to youclose, that changes everything.
And they decided to pull that.
They didn't think they weregoing to be able to convict him.
Which dude murdered three people.
How are you not going to getthis?
But they got it and, like Isaid, he has six consecutive

life sentences so he'll never,ever, ever see anything.
He gets 30 minutes out of acell.
Now, in retrospect I'm gladthat's what he got, because you
think about that, you know alittle six by eight concrete
room and you see nobody all daylong.
I mean I go crazy.
When I'm home Saturday andSunday by myself, I start
talking to the plants andstuffed animals and Lord knows

You know, I can't imaginesomething like that so.

Speaker 1 (18:34):
Well, and I've I've talked to a couple of death row
experts and they say that it'sactually the worst thing that
you can pursue as a victim orvictim's family, because there's
going to be decades of appealsand you're going to have to
relive that episode every time.

Speaker 2 (18:43):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So we're we're happy with theoutcome, you know, in retrospect
, but that was really the thebeginning of a tumultuous uh,
you know, I don't know 10, 12,15 years of stuff.
Hopefully all that crap's doneit's probably not.
I like to think that, but youknow, sometimes God has
different plans Um, but that wasreally the first just kind of

That sort of set everything off.
And when I had put that post onabout talking about you know, I
had a lot of people.
You should write a story, youshould, you should write a book,
you should talk about what'sgoing on and how you guys dealt
with this.
And I just didn't really knowwhat.
You know who, why, what am Igoing to put together?
You know that kind of thing.

So it wasn't really until Iwent through some more stuff and
got to where I am now, wherethat made sense.

Speaker 1 (19:34):
Well, you went through some more stuff.
You ended up getting the gym,but I think you lost the gym.

Speaker 2 (19:39):
Yeah yeah, it was just too far gone.
It had a bad reputation.
We had a bad lease.
There were issues in thebuilding.
We ended up moving down thestreet and changing.
Now the corporate um, the peoplethat own powerhouse gyms
overall the family is justamazing.
The um dabishes they've been inthe gym industry since 1968 or

It was Joe gold who owns allthe gold gym, like they are the
You know got amazing family,completely supportive Um, and it
was just.
It was a struggle.
It was a struggle for me to paybills.
It was a struggle for me to doanything I'll never forget.
Finally, talking to Will Dabishone day, I'm like, well, I
don't know what to do.
I'm a wreck.
I don't sleep, I can't payanybody, you know, just over and

And he was like Kel, walk away,it's not worth it, this is not
worth your health, this is notworth anything.
He's like good people losebusinesses.
It is what it is.
If you want another one, we'llget you another one at some
He's like don't do this toyourself, walk away.
And that was kind of the firsttime that I think anybody had
told me hey, it's okay if youfail.

You know you're gonna, you'regonna fail and figure something
else out.
So, yeah, I lost the gym.
Before I lost the gym is when Ihad met Sophia.
So she, I work for the IFBB andthe NPC around here, which is
the two organizations.

Speaker 1 (21:06):
Professional bodybuilding.

Speaker 2 (21:07):
Yeah, and I work at the Olympia.
I work at the Mr Olympia thelast couple of years so I'm
backstage expediting and helpingset people up and stuff like
All from relationships fromback in the 90s.
So you know, I tell everybodynow I teach high school so I
tell the kids now do not burnbridges, you have no idea where
somebody you know is going tocome into your life two decades

from now.
So the man who is kind of incharge and my direct boss and I
have BBNPC he and I trained atthe same gym back in the early
to mid 90s and we kind ofcrossed paths.
He's like hey, do you want towork a show?
I own the gym.
We started putting stufftogether and the gym supported
Then all of a sudden, here I am.
I do you know?

Speaker 1 (21:54):
13 to 17 shows a year , plus the Olympia.

Speaker 2 (21:55):
So you know it's not a huge paying job, but it's a
it's what I love to do.
Well, and you're, you're aroundyour people.
Yeah, absolutely.
So I was working, um, at youknow, own powerhouse and Sophia
had seen one of the shows.
Um, she was a cellist, sheplayed cello and she was at the
school, had come back to helpthe band director or something,

and she was in there and talkingto the band director and she
had been working out herself,not at Powerhouse.
And I just saw her banddirector or orchestra director
two weeks ago and she wastelling me a story she said I'll
never forget.
She said Sophia's over thereand she's telling all the
students about her working out.
And she's like, yeah, I've gotabs.
Now, you wouldn't believe this.

Like, look at this, I've gotabs.
She's pulling her shirt up andshowing them.
And Miss Woods, her orchestrainstructor, comes over and she's
like Sophia, what are you doing?
Oh, I started working out.
Ms Woods, you wouldn't believethis, I know it's been, you know
, five, six years.
She just punched me in thestomach, sophia, I'm not
punching you in this.
No, it's okay, go ahead.
And she said all the studentswere like, yeah, go ahead, it's
No, I'm not punching you in thestomach.

But that was kind of who Sophiawas.
She couldn't wait, you know.
So she walked into Powerhouseone day and, um, I wasn't there.
Had a guy at the front deskcalls me.
He goes hey, had a, had a girlcome through here, wanted to
sign up, and I said, okay, didyou get her a membership?
Nope, she only wanted to talkto you.
Okay, well, I'll be back.

So a couple hours later I getthere and she comes walking in
and this cute little ball offire comes walking in hi, I want
to see about getting amembership.
And I said, oh, okay, so I'mtaking her around the gym and
you know, I'm trying to be theprofessional but also act cool.
Here's this cute girl and I'mlike you know, do you, do you
work out?
You know, do you know anythingabout the gym?
Oh, I'm trying, but I don'tknow much.

So, of course, I'm like well,here's the leg press and this is
how this works your quads, andif you put your feet this way
and then you're gonna curl, wehave this.
And she's like oh, wow, Ididn't.
She knew every damn thing I wastalking to her about.
She was working me a hundredtimes harder than I was working.
Her she had seen me at one ofthe bodybuilding shows, found
out that I owned the gym, wantedto meet me, so she came over

and decided to join the gym.
So, um, her and I I don't knowwithin two weeks, went out on
our first date, went to DC andwandered around, saw the
monuments and, you know, justhit it off.
Um, there was a huge age gap.
We both had issues with that.
We were both worried aboutwhat's everybody going to say?

What do we do?
How does this going to work?
You know, and my family and ourfriends especially were like
who cares?
Is she good to you?
Yeah, I've never had anybody beso good to me.
You love her?
Yeah, I mean, I don't know, Ithink so.
You know, it's brand new.
Who cares?
And I'm like, okay, and in ourlittle bodybuilding world,

nobody cared.
In our gym world, nobody cared.
We had the same interest, youknow.
Um, well, same interest, exceptfor music absolutely that's what
I was and I was gonna say isshe, we, she?
You know, I would make a moviereference from the 80s and she
would go huh who?
Or she would play something.
I'm like who, who the hell isbad bunny I?

I don't know that's music, butI know Bugs Bunny you know it
It was a hot mess, but none ofthat mattered.
You know it's so funny.
One of her favorite movies wasSmokey and the Bandit.
That's what 1977, 76 something,and she loved that.
So I would call her Frog thatwas what he would call her.

So and she had gotten, so Iwould call her frog that was
what he, you know.
He would call her um.
So and she had gotten me intosome of her new stuff.
But we just fit, you know our.
We ended up um kind of.
What got me to to througheverything is I.
We had been dating about sixmonths, I lost the gym and you
were living in your car yeah.
So I lost the gym and, um,everybody in the area was

furious with me not everybody,but a good portion.
Oh, he, he must.
You took millions and ran awayand, believe me, if I had
millions, this place would stillbe open.
You know, I'm not embezzlingmoney and hauling ass somewhere,
um, and I ended up.
I have a smart car, not like itwas a big station wagon.
So I had a smart car and I andI lived in it.

Um, at a rest stop and I wouldmove rest stops every night, I
would change and the policewould come up and knock on the
You, okay, yeah, I'm good.
And I was working odd jobs offof Craigslist and I lied to
everyone, to my family.
My friends, my family would say, hey, where are you staying?
Are you okay?
What are you doing?
Yeah, I'm good, I'm stayingwith a friend.

My friends, hey, where are youstaying?
I'm okay, I'm staying with myfamily.
I lied to everybody.
The only person that knew wasSophia, really, and I fully
expected her to be like peaceout.
This dude lost his businesswhat a loser living in his car.
And she was the other wayaround.
She's just supported me.
You can do this.
What do you?
You know what do you want to do?

Let's find a way out of this.
She helped whenever she could.
I couldn't stay with her.
She was renting a room, youknow, from a family, so it
wasn't like it was an option forme to go, you know, even mooch
off of her or something.
So we just made it work as bestwe could.
And a couple months into me,living in my car, a friend of
mine from Gold's Gym Corporate,which I had worked at in the

early 2000s.
He owns a gym not far from hereand he and I were talking and
he said you know, do you guysneed a membership?
And I said, yeah, sophia and Iyou know my girlfriend we would
love a membership.
I said I can't afford oneanywhere.
We haven't really been able totrain and she wants to compete
and all.
And he says well, I'll tell youwhat he says.
I will give you both amembership on one condition.

And I said sure, what's that?
He said you show up every dayand you use it.
I'm not going to give it to you, it's not going to be used, but
if you're going to use it, I'llgive it to you.
And I said let's do it, so hegave it to us.
I remember going to Walmart Ihad $43 to my name and I bought
$43 somewhere.
I had a picture of the food.
It was literally tuna, peanutbutter and jelly bread, a bag,

five pound bag of rice, likewhatever I could get to kind of
hit my bodybuilding macros, youknow, and kind of get my head
into this.
Sophia and I walked into thegym the next morning at 4.30 and
we started training togetherevery day before she would go to
work and we'd meet up againafterwards.
Six months down the road myphysical started getting better.
I was 225 pounds, fat, bloodpressure high, just everything

was a mess.
Six months later my physicalstarted getting better and
realized, as my physical gotbetter, so did my mental and
life just kind of felt like itwas turning around.
I was still a mess, stilldepressed over the gym, still
didn't really have a job or knowwhat I was going to do, but I
was kind of putting one foot infront of the other and moving
forward, took a job substitutingat high school here my mom was

a teacher and a substitute and Ithought, well, here's, you know
, 95 bucks a day.
At least I can work and I canstill go interview for other
stuff if I need to.
I had to work, as I said, allkinds of odd jobs off of
Craigslist and stuff like that.
And I started subbing and Ifound out I love that job.
And I had another personcontact from Powerhouse who

owned 13 Subway restaurantsaround here and he had offered
for me to come in and be like aregional general manager have 13
And I said, yeah, I could dothat.
I said, but I promised the.
I had a long term sub gig I wascovering for a teacher that
they had let go.
I said I promised the schooland these kids I was going to
stay here until the end of June.
I can't start until then.
You know, can I work part time?

And he goes yeah, that let's,let's teach you how to be.
You know, working in a subwayyou can learn like one of the
So I would work until two 15 atthe high school, drive down to
the local subway and go in thereand put an apron on and work
with these high school kids.
Being a sandwich artist, I amthe worst tuna sandwich maker.
Oh my God ever.
I'm like this is definitely notmy skill.

But now when I go in there nowand those people are, you know,
putting this stuff on the breadand folding it over.
There's a skill to that and Ididn't have it.

Speaker 1 (30:01):
Um, let me ask you about this work ethic.
Okay, uh, so you're teachingand then you go become a
sandwich artist.
Um, was that?
I mean, that's a massive workethic.
So was that a proponent or acomponent of bodybuilding, or
did bodybuilding give you thatwork ethic?

Speaker 2 (30:21):
My dad gave me that work ethic.
Okay, I'm literally coming offright now.
A week ago, for the previouseight weeks before this, my days
have started at 415 in themorning and ended at about 1030
or 11 at night walking in thedoor.
So my dad, just I never saw himbe sick.
I never saw him take a day off.

You just work.
That's what you did.
You know he was that generation, that World War Two generation
there was.
It was a different breed andthat's what I grew up seeing.
So I think that probably helpedwhen I got to bodybuilding.
And I am actually better witheverything else in my life when
I am actively competing orprepping for a show, because you

have to be so organized and soprepped and everything has to be
structured, to be so organizedand so prepped and everything
has to be structured.
You know I'm nine weeks outfrom Team U, team Universe in
New Jersey, which is a proqualifier in July, and I have
every minute of my day prettymuch mapped out.
You know Sundays are kind of myone day that I get to take a
little breath, but the other sixdays, you know, I know where I

am, 24-7.
So it forces you at that level,to be more organized and have a
different type of work ethic.

Speaker 1 (31:33):
The discipline that you have to have for that sport
is just it's ungodly.

Speaker 2 (31:38):
Yeah, and you know, Sophia probably helped you stay
Nobody worked harder than Sophia.
I've been around top probodybuilders my entire life,
adult life and nobody workedharder than her.
She just you top probodybuilders my entire life,
adult life and nobody workedharder than her.
She just you know.
Sophia and I love to eat, butwe are both foodies and we love
to eat.
And she's four foot 11, youknow, 113 pounds.

So she's tiny but she could outeat me and everybody else.
And love to sleep, love to layaround and rest.
But when prep started at 415 andthat alarm went off, those
little feet hit the floor andI'm laying in bed.
Oh babe, 15 more minutes.
No, let's go, let's go, let'sgo.
We got to do cardio, let's go.
Like there was nothing.
She never missed a beat, not onworkouts, not on diet.

There is no cheating, there is.
It's just it wasn't an optionwith her.
I've never.
You know people would say, ohshe's, she's obsessed.
I'm like obsessed, no,dedicated, yes, you know.
Or what's?
What's her motive?
What's your motivation?
It's not motivation, it'sdedication.
Motivation only takes you sofar.
You know that'll get youthrough a Rocky song and a

picture will get you through aworkout, or, you know, a couple
of sets.
It's dedication having to getup and go do stuff when you
don't you know, don't want to doit.

Speaker 1 (32:51):
And how do you, how do you learn that?
How do you, how do you buildthat?

Speaker 2 (32:56):
I don't know.
I don't know if you do, I don'tknow if you build it or if you
instill it.
I think I think it's on thatevery single day.
Now, really, at this pointstill we're coming up on three

years since her passing If I hadmy choice, I wouldn't get out
of bed any day.
I'm perfectly happy to lay inbed and look at pictures and be
upset and bawl my eyes out andjust be a wreck, and I can't,
because she would have my ass ifI did that, you know, and
that's not who she was andthat's not who she wanted me to

And that was kind of where theso the teaching thing came about
They offered me a job at theschool I was substituting and I
said, heck, yeah, teachingnutrition, which was right up my
I went and got all mycertifications and did
everything I needed to do and Istarted teaching.
And I have never in my life hadsomebody be so proud of me as
Sophia was when I got thatteaching job.

And for me I was like it's ateaching job.
This is the worst paying jobI've had since I was 18.
Who did I teach?
You know, I've always been insales.
I worked for the Redskins.
I've sold into the operatingroom.
I sold cell phones when theyfirst came out with Sprint and
That's all I've done is salesand my own stuff.

So for me to have a job whereyou show up and go to the same
place every day and get the samepaycheck completely different,
but I got in there and found outthat I loved it, love these
kids, just love being able to Idon't know teach them and it's
something that I'm passionateabout.
And then Sophia and I startedour own nutrition company.
We are haters and everybody waskind of doing keto.

That was the big thing.
And we're like low carb that'sawful.
Everybody's done low carb tobodybuild.
That's horrible.
Baby, let's try this keto thingfor like two weeks so we can do
some posts and tell people howhorrible it is.
We started doing it two weeksinto it.
It was miserable.
We felt terrible, lookedterrible, awful, and we were
both ready to quit.
And I was on an online forum andmet a guy who was a scientist

at National Institutes of Healthand he started talking to me.
He said I don't know anythingabout bodybuilding, but he said
we use this in the medicalcommunity all the time.
We use the keto diet for kidswith epilepsy and a bunch of
different medical treatments.
Would you be interested if Icould show you how to do this
diet at a 20% caloric deficitand preserve 90 to 95% of your

muscle, versus a standard dietwhere you only preserve 60 to
I said that's, that's the Holygrail of bodybuilding.
Hell yeah, and he didn't knowbodybuilding and I didn't know
the medical and we kind ofmeshed it together and figured
it out and Sophia and I launcheda company and that's been seven
years ago, I guess now.
So we, you know, teach peoplehow to do healthy keto, not the

crap you see on TikTok of go eatthree pounds of bacon and some
although bacon's good, but youknow it's.
How do you do this, how do youdo it and stay healthy?
So we launched that company Istarted teaching.
She was competing.
Life was just, you know,heading in the in the right
She wanted to, you know, gether pro card.

She had taken first at twonational shows, um, and we just
just loved it, you know it was.
It was one of those where Iremember having a conversation
with her that, you know, babe,everybody always says, oh, stuff
happens for a reason.
And you know, oh, god only givesyou what you can handle and

he's doing this.
So you're going to deal withthat and stuff that I had never
And at that point and I said,you know what, maybe this is why
I went through losing the gymand losing Brittany and Connor
and my mom and dad.
And then you walking in andlike because now we're finally
at that place where things aremoving forward and it's coming
together and it's all because ofeverything I've been through,

you know, I think a lot of thatI would.
I would never have been where Iwas even then had I not been
through some of the bad stuff.
It's ironic now for me to lookback and say that.
But at that point, you know,having that conversation with
her, I just remember it being,you know, very powerful and even
though there was this huge agedifference between the two of us

, like I said, nobody, nobodycared.
It didn't matter to us and itdidn't matter to anybody that
cared about us in this world youknow it was fine.

Speaker 1 (37:24):
If they're true family and they're true friends
all they should care about isyour happiness, and you found
that happiness, and Sophia foundthat happiness in in each other
And so I, who cares about age?
It's just a number, man, it'sjust a number.

Speaker 2 (37:39):
Well, that that thought went away.
You know, within the first, Idon't know, six, seven months,
we were like who cares, it iswhat it is.
You know, her friends love,love me.
My friends loved her.
Um, and in the bodybuildingworld, we, just, you know, we
worked every weekend, we wereworking at a different show, you
know, we traveled, we went todifferent gyms, we ate and ate,
and ate, and ate and ate, um,and, just you know, had a, had a

So, um, it's, I don't know,it's one of those things that I
sit here now and go how the?
You know, how the heck was Ilucky enough to find it and how
the heck was I unlucky enough toto lose it in some way, shape
or form.

Speaker 1 (38:20):
Yeah Well, I don't, I don't, I don't know if it's, if
it's, unlucky, though, becauseyou did find it, you know, I
mean, and, and so at the age of27, which is three years ago,
she passes away in her sleep,and it was unidentified causes.

Speaker 2 (38:37):
Yeah, it was a heart attack, but there's, we don't
know the reason behind itno-transcript.
Exploring on my own with somepeople that I knew that are, um,

high level, some verywell-known um pathologists, and
they have some ideas.
Maybe could have been somethingwith her kidney or liver um
She had had some bladderinfections that never got taken
care of.
Um, you know, for about a weekbefore everything happened,

before she passed, she had hadheadaches and joint pains and
stuff like that, but nothingthat was a red flag to either of
us that were like, oh my God,we better get to the hospital,
what's going on?
We're having joint pains, okay.
Well, you're working out twicea day, you know, and going a
hundred miles an hour.
You had a headache, all right.
Well, we're stressed, like Imean, just, you know they
weren't anything, it wasn't somehuge red flag where you're like

, oh, my goodness, something hasto happen.
And her mom this was, you know,during covid or kind of towards
the end or end, I guess, ofcovid.
Her mom had not seen her inalmost a year.
Her mom lives in Jacksonvilleand called Sophia on Monday and
said, hey, I'm coming to see you, I'll be up on, I'll be up on

Thursday I'm going to be in town, let's get a hotel and you can
stay there and we can hang outand go to lunch.
And she's like, should I takeoff work?
She's like, no, go to work,I've got stuff during the day
but we'll hang out at night andgo to dinner and all.
So the last time I saw her wasthat Wednesday morning I guess
it was Wednesday.

Her mom came in, so Wednesdaymorning we got up and went to
the gym together and that was it.
We were going to see each otheron Saturday to work a local
bodybuilding show here, andFriday night about 1230, my
phone rang and it was her mom.
And you know, having had thatphone call with mom and dad and
Brittany and Connor and never agood thing when your phone rings

, you know, in the middle of thenight, it's just, it's just not
And I remember my heart sinkingbefore I even answered the
phone and with no reason to havethat thought, you know, and the
you know the words from her momwill play in my ears, just like
the vision of Brittany when Ifirst saw her.
I I try those are things that Itry not to go back to, but I do

I absolutely have PTSD from youknow everything that I've been
There are triggers that will setstuff off.
Sometimes it'll set me off towhere I end up, you know,
bawling my eyes out, but more so, a lot of times it'll freeze me
You know, something will hitand that thought will just play
in my head over and over again.

And there's times where I'llfind myself sitting at the
kitchen table for two hours, noton my phone, not listening to
music, just literally there.
And you know, I know that's a,that's a trauma response.

Speaker 1 (41:40):
Well, I got.
I gotta say that, uh, intalking to you right now and
watching your speech at liftsfor Sophia, you're a thousand
percent changed.
I mean, you're a thousandpercent better right now.

Speaker 2 (41:52):
Yeah, I'm, I'm, I know how to navigate through it.
Yeah, um, how I just keepmoving.
I honestly, I talk to her everysingle day.
There's a I don't know if wecan there, she is sitting on my
other, you know she's there.
Um, I talked to her.

I tell her about my day.
I do the same things that herand I always did.

Speaker 1 (42:18):
Um, well, and she talks to you too.

Speaker 2 (42:21):
A hundred percent.
There have been so many thingsthat I can't wait.

Speaker 1 (42:25):
I can't wait for you to share those stories.
But uh, uh, I want to talkabout you becoming a teacher and
she she worked in a pediatricdental office.
Yes, she's not.

Speaker 2 (42:37):
Yeah, she's not going to care about the paycheck
you're bringing in right anothersimilarity that you two had was
love for children yep yeah, soI mean, that's a love, that's a
love hate for children, becausethere were plenty of days where
she was going oh my god, Iwanted to beat this little kid
and I'm like, yeah, because Iwanted to beat one of mine, so
we had both.
Yeah, but you don't, and youlove them and you come back the

next day.

Speaker 1 (43:03):
But and the reason I say that it was you know, you
had this in common.
She was your swole mate and Ilove that man Swole mate Because
you know when your body getsswole.
Yeah, who coined that?

Speaker 2 (43:16):
Probably me at some point.
I'm not sure.

Speaker 1 (43:20):
But yeah, probably me at some point.
I'm not sure but, yeah, thatwas cool.
I read that and I was like ohmy God, that's so brilliant.

Speaker 2 (43:26):
We just worked you know, it's just, it just worked.
There was never a question aboutit.
And you know we've talked aboutwhether I was lucky to have
found her or unlucky to havelost her Absolutely lucky to
have found her or unlucky tohave lost her, absolutely lucky
to have found her.
I've been through so manyrelationships in my 50 now five
years, 54 years.
Some of them I screwed up andsome of them they screwed up.

And I'm still friends with mostof my exes.
I still talk to them randomlyand they understand.
You know how it was with Sophiaand I and they know ones that I
messed up and ones they messedup.
But no relationship was likethis one.
It just wasn't.
And I don't mean that as a digtowards anybody else I ever
This was just one.
We just worked.
It was easy and that's what itwas is.

There was no jealousy.
We both supported each other.
So many things that I had gonethrough in other relationships.
That was difficult.

Speaker 1 (44:23):
I never dealt with here, you know isn't it crazy
how, with age, you can look backon things and say oh yeah,
that's where I messed up, orthat's?
Where I could have been better.
You know, with age comes that,that experience and that wisdom,
and then, when you find easy,I've got the same thing.
You know what it's supposed tofeel like.

Speaker 2 (44:43):
Yeah, and you know, I , I, I, now I'm, you know.
I'm 55 and I say, and I feellike I'm much better in a
relationship than I'm not in arelationship, but we're coming
up on three years and the ideaof that, I can't even entertain
it, you know, and I don't.
I know you never say never, butat this point I think, sophia,

that was it, I'm good, you know.
Am I lonely?
Yeah, I'm lonely as hell mostdays.
Do I wish there was somebody toshare, you know stuff with?
Yeah, I get old, going to eatat our restaurants by herself
and stuff like that.
Are there people that I could goout with and stuff like that?
Absolutely, but I'd rather not,you know, and I think if I was

younger and maybe hadn't beenthrough a lot of relationships,
it would be different.
Let me go see what's out thereand let me see what I know
what's out there and I know whatI had.
So I feel like for me to go ona date with somebody or to try
and end up in anotherrelationship would be unfair to
that person, because everythingwould be compared to Sophia and

that's not something anybody canlive up to.
You know, yeah, and everyrelationship is different, but
it wouldn't be fair to them.
I feel like it wouldn't be fairto Sophia, you know, even
though everybody says, oh, youknow she wants you to be happy
at now, I'm sure, but we alsolaughed and joked about she

didn't want me to be withanybody else, I don't want her
to be with it.
You know, after having had thatwith her, I keep her alive
through the foundation, through,like I said, I talk to her
every single day.

Speaker 1 (46:25):
You know this necklace here I was going to ask
you about the necklace becauseit's, it's it's the symbol of
two, two, two muscle, which isthe foundation you started for
the Sophia Graham foundation.
We're going to talk about thatbecause what you're doing with
it is phenomenal, and it goesback to something you said
earlier about the guy who gaveyou a gym membership.
It's perfect, but her ashesyou've had them welded in to

that necklace.

Speaker 2 (46:51):
So we each had one of these bodybuilding necklaces
with a barbell on it Hers wasthe top one, mine was the bottom
We each had it and wore it.
There's a company and theyactually donate money to the
foundation every month Goodfriends of mine, brent's Blaine,
and they make these necklacesand she and I each had one and
wore it and when everythinghappened I actually had hers

opened up and put her ashesinside of her dumbbell and
closed it.
And at our school we have awelding program and I took it to
one of my friend that runs thewelding program and I had him
welded into this kind of crossor X and I wear this religiously
every day and then this is whatended up turning into the logo
for the foundation.

Speaker 1 (47:36):
You know, a few months later, so yeah, if you're
watching this on YouTube, I'vegot the logo right up on the
screen right there and andthere's the.
There's the link to the website.
But for everybody who'slistening on audio, what is the

Speaker 2 (47:49):
So the website is the Sophia Graham foundationorg, or
you can also go to 222musclecom.
Either one of them will takeyou to the same same website,
and we are the only mentalhealth organization in the
country, maybe in the world thatfocuses on mental health
through physical strength.
There's not another one outthere, and we're a full 501c3


Speaker 1 (48:12):
You give memberships to gyms for people who are
struggling with mental healthissues.

Speaker 2 (48:18):
So our mission statement is tolift people who feel the weight
of the world on their shouldersand provide improved mental
health through the pursuit ofphysical strength.
So the idea is anybody if youtalk to anybody that goes to the
gym has been through something.
You know, I talk at a lot ofbodybuilding shows and I'll
speak to people and I'll say,hey, you know, it'd be 200

people in the audience.
Everybody in here is.
You know why?
Why did you guys think aboutwhy you started working out?
Some of us started working outbecause we wanted to lose weight
Doctor said you had high bloodpressure.
You know, most of us startedworking out whether we want to
admit or not, because you wantedto look better.
A lot of us.

You started working out becauseyou went through a breakup you
were dealing with.
You know, coming out of drugaddiction.
You know, lost your job.
There was all these differentthings that would.
That would happen.
And when you start going to thegym as I said, it happened with
me six months into it yourphysical starts getting better
and so does your, your mental.
So what we do is we provide gymmemberships to anybody who is

going through a trauma ortragedy in life where this gym
membership might save their lifeor turn their life around as it
, as it did mine.
So we've provided membershipsall across the country.
Most of the time what's nice isthe gym owners, the small gym
They will donate, you know, amembership.
They'll give it to me.
If that's the case, thensometimes we'll help pay for

training or help pay for homeequipment.
Some of the students that I'vehad I've bought BOSU bands and
balls and dumbbells and stufffor them to be able to have at
You know I say working out orgym membership.
It doesn't have to be that.
You know, maybe working out isgetting your butt outside and
going for a bike ride.
You know it's.
There's so much science behindthe endorphins that are released

when you, when you exercise,and what it does to your brain
and the dopamine and theserotonin and all that stuff,
that it's not just, you know, acrazy thought.
There's science behind it.

Speaker 1 (50:16):
No, it's not a crazy thought when you've actually
lived it, you can go.

Speaker 2 (50:19):
And when I asked this at the, at the bodybuilding
shows, usually about 70% of thepeople will raise their hand
yeah, yeah, we've been throughthat and I'm like, well, that
that's what we do, you know.
And to do it and have somebodyby your side is, you know,
completely different.
There's a, there's a card thatI have that she gave to me a few
years ago.
She convinced me to startcompeting after 19 years.

I hadn't competed and I'mleaving getting ready to go to
nationals, and she gave me acard and I want to have this
card actually blown up and into,you know, on a wall in her
But it just talks about how faryou can go with somebody's
support and how you're my personand thank you so much for being
there and everything you'veever done for me, and that blah

Just, you know I've got so manythings like that from her that
are why it's easy to keep heralive and keep moving and keep
You know, moving forward.
I just I don't, I don't knowthat it'll ever change.
You know, like I said, I neversay never, but right now I'm,
I'm good with it's still her andI you know, and in many ways,

and I, you know I say thatsometimes and I, you know, I'll
tell my friends or my family, mysister, I'm like I'm batshit
crazy and they're like why.
I'm like cause I walk aroundthe house and talk to her all
day long, but when I do it and alight will flicker or a song
will come on or 222 will pop upsomewhere.
You know, I know I'm doing theright thing.
So I was just in a productionof the Wizard of Oz at school

Nice Talk about biting off morethan you can chew.
So she loved me teaching.
So one of the things I'vereally pushed for this year, I'm
the senior class sponsor.
I've sponsored these kids forall four years.
So, um, you know, I've helpedgo through everything from
homecoming to prom to seniorpranks, to you name it.
So I had asked the uh thedirector uh, probably about

eight weeks ago Now they weregetting ready to start the
wizard of Oz production and Isaid hey.
I said you know, there's alittle 30 second piece where I
could come out and do a littlecameo and a dance and be a
munchkin or something funny andmake everybody laugh.
I'd really Mr Kirk.
And I said, yeah, she goes.
Okay, show up to a rehearsalthe next day.
I showed up nine and a halfminutes of me dancing and
singing like a damn munchkin Waymore, and I was like I can't do

this, I can't do this.
And all I could hear was Sophialaughing and going oh, baby,
and Snuggles was like Snuggles,you could do this.
You've got to do this.
This would be so much fun andshe just would have loved it.
So I show up for the show thevery first night and the
director had a front row seatwith her name on it said,
reserved for Sophia.
Graham had a purple flower forher.
I love the fact that everybodyin my life my students know her

They have her on Instagram andFacebook.
Everybody just gets it.
They know our story, they knowthat's where I am and they
support it and it's just awesome.
But what I was going to saywith her was so the very last
night of the show, next to lastnight, last Saturday, I'm on my

way to school to go to this nextto final performance and I'm
talking to her and we have a appcalled Marco Polo where you can
leave video voicemails and it'sgreat.
I use it for friends and familyand clients and she and I lived
on it every day.
She would go to the gym in themorning, I'd go to the other gym
and we'd message back and forthand she'd send me videos of her

at work all day and the kidsand vice versa.
So I still have several hundredof them saved.
So I'm driving down and I'mscrolling through and I clicked
on one randomly, completelyrandom, and it pops up and it's
her and she says hey, baby.
She said I love working outwith you in the morning.
I just gone to work out today.
She said I love working outwith you in the morning.
So I'm glad I got to see youtoday, but I'm really bummed I'm
not going to get to see youtonight.

Now, I have no idea where thismessage was from, but to me I
took that as my performance, youknow she's not going to get to
and I was like man.
So there's just so many powerfulthings that have happened.

You know, with that, the two,two, two came about because when
I was homeless and had beenliving in my car, a friend of my
, friend of ours, had offeredfor me to come stay with her,
and I'm staying in this in hercondo.
Came home one day, long storyshort, the house flooded and
they moved her into a hotel.
She's like well, it's a twobedroom hotel, so come stay in
the hotel with me, you know,until you figure stuff out.
So I'm over there hanging out.
Sophia is on her way over tohang out with us.
That night she texts me.

She says baby, I'm on my wayover to see you and Sherry, what
room are you in?
I said we're in room two, two,two.
Come on up.
She writes back and says 222,is that on the first floor?
No, babe, 222 is on the secondfloor.
111 or 122 would be on thefirst floor, right?
So that became this runningjoke 222 is on the first floor.

We all, everybody, laughedabout it.
Fast forward, six months latershe's getting ready for her
first figure physique show thatI helped her with local show.
Her number was two, two, two.
She wins the show, wins theoverall, fast forward.
A year later we're at um.
Junior nationals or junior USAis one of the big shows for her
to get her pro card 1500competitors.

Her number comes up two, two,two, same thing wins both of her
So two, two, two is just kindof always our number, and you
know the amount of times that itcomes up.
Two, two, two same thing, winsboth of her classes.
So two, two, two is just kindof always our number, and you
know the amount of times that itcomes up.
Now I'll be sound asleep in themiddle of the night and I
there's been two or three timeswhere I've literally felt a tap
on my shoulder or something moveand I'll roll over and I'll
wake up and oh, let me get upand go pee and I'll look at the

Lips for Sophia.

Speaker 1 (56:00):
There was a 2-2-2 reference you made in that and
it was absolutely eerie when Iheard it the hair on my arms.

Speaker 2 (56:07):
It might have been.
I was working a show.
I was working one of the firstbodybuilding shows without her
Jay Cutler Classic down inRichmond, and Jay Cutler was one
of her idols.
You know he's six time MrOlympia.
Great guy, Super, super, superguy.
I'm down there, I work theearly part of the show.

I go back to the room.
Normally I get back to the roomand that's when her and I would
talk smack about everybody, Didyou see?

Speaker 1 (56:33):
so-and-so, and what about?

Speaker 2 (56:34):
You know that's what we all do.
And I get back to the room andI'm just a mess, I'm bawling my
eyes out.
I don't know how I'm going tomake it through this and I'm
And I'm texting back and forthwith one of our friends who is
also a dental hygienist, whoalso judges at shows, and I've
known her and her husband foryears and I'm messaging back and
forth with her.
And earlier that day I had put apost on Instagram or Facebook

something, and I said this isgoing to be really hard without
You know, let's try this orsomething.
And I'm talking to this ladyback and forth, karen, and
Karen's like are you okay?
And I said no, I don't know ifI can do this.
I said I'm just, karen, I'mdone.
I don't know.
And she's, like you like, donewith bodybuilding.
And I go no, I think I'm done.

I don't.
I'm not being morbid, but Idon't think I want to do this
I'm like I'm done.
This is not what I signed upfor.
I want to go be with her.
You know I'm I'm done.
And I literally Kara was likeno, you know, you'll be fine,
we'll see you tomorrow morning.
We, you know, we love you andI'm laying there on my bed in

the hotel room and I opened upInstagram and I clicked on it
and it came up with 222 viewsand I was like oh okay.
That may have been.
So there's a lot of things withher.
It's it's usually more than onething.
I was coming home from seven 11, there's a seven 11 right
across the street.

I'm walking back to the housethis was a few months ago and as
I'm walking back to the houseI'm having a conversation with
her out loud again.
I'm sure the neighbors aregoing.
Who's that crazy old guy youknow walking?
And I was like babe.
I said I sure do wish you werehere.
I said I know you're here, butI said I wish you were here and
I could just find some way thatI could give you a hug.

And I stopped and I looked upat the sky and the streetlight
and I have this one videobecause I was might have been
talking to one of my friends.
I looked up and the streetlightwent off and I went babe, was
that you?
Yeah, that's kind of weird.
And the light flicked back onand I was like and I'm a skeptic

, so I don't.
I usually so I think, becauseI'm a skeptic, she generally
throws two or three things at me.
So I come walking into thehouse and I walk in and laying
on my bed is the remote controlfor the TV and the red light on
it power light is flashing onand off.
Haven't touched it, nobody'sbeen near it, nothing is okay
and I walked over and I'm likeI'm sure this has got to be you

And I worked over and I openedup Instagram and the post from
that day 222 views and I'm like,okay, three things like that in
a span of two and a halfminutes.
It's just not coincidence.
You know, and I tell people, Idon't care what you believe, I
don't care what your religion is, what you think, where there is

more to this world, in thislife and what we see and I don't
know what it is necessarily orhow it works, but there is
absolutely more than than whatwe see on a, you know, on a
regular basis.
So the people that have gonethrough similar stuff, you know
they always ask me for adviceand my only advice is talk to
I promise you they hear.
You know I didn't do that withmy mom and dad.
I didn't do that with Brittanyand Connor, so I don't have a

reference going further back,because it wasn't something that
affected me that way or, youknow, they weren't a part of
every little piece of my life.
You know, if you lose yourparents, you lose your, your
animal, you lose your, you knowwhatever.
All of that is awful and it's,and it all hurts just the same
and it puts a hole in your heartjust the same.

But when you lose your person,it affects everything.
You know, we ate together, wetrained together, we slept
together, we vacation together,we worked together.
It was everything.
So there's not a single thingthat I do that Sophia doesn't
come into play.
I can't mop the kitchen floor,you know, and there's a thought

in my head of that, and she usedto do this.
Why the hell, you know, orwhatever it is.
So it's a very different typeof loss.
So it's a very different typeof loss and I'm thankful for the
people in my life when ithappened that said you know,
talk to her, talk to her, talkto her, talk to her.
And I did, and I've never quitand I don't think I ever will.

Speaker 1 (01:00:46):
So, with all the signs that she's giving you,
obviously she wasn't ready toleave either.

Speaker 2 (01:00:51):
No, I don't think so.
And again, I don't know.
You know I've been on a podcastor two.
That's kind of been down thethe faith based side of it, you
know, and I and I told one lady,I said you, you might not like
some of what I have to say, butI'm just going to be honest.
It's my story and my experience.
So you know they, they ask howdo you?

You know, do you believe in Godand reasons?
I don't know, I got a lot ofanger built up.
I don't know.
I believe in something.
I believe in Sophia.
I believe that she's still hereand still around me.
So I know that there'ssomething going on.
You know I said, that beingsaid, if I was in a car accident
and they were rushing me to thehospital, the first thing I'm
probably going to do is pray toGod that I'm okay.
So I said I understand thedichotomy there, you know, but I

believe in her more than Ibelieve in anything in her
And you know, having talked topsychics and red stuff and you
know they talk about how aperson's energy in life is a lot
of times, how it will be, youknow, after the fact, and I,
like I said, I like the science,I like factual stuff.
I'm a biohack nut.

We use infrared, low levellaser infrared.
I have hydrogen infused water.
I mean, she and I lived on andI won't do it unless there's
some science behind it, you know, and there could be opposing
But as long as I can line upbehind some views that actually
this is proven and it's kind ofbeen the same way with signs
from her it's very hard for meto just have that faith.

But it's very easy for me tolook at things that have
happened and go, okay, all ofthese are energy related,
they're light related, they're anumber related, they're
something on my cell phone,they're you know, um, yeah,
there's physical manifestationsabsolutely.
A week after um, everythinghappened.
I was sitting at the gym, I hadjust gotten her necklace made.

Sitting in the car, I'm holdingthis necklace, I'm sobbing my
eyes out.
I get in, I go out to the to um, into the gym and work out.
I come back out, I get my car.
My battery's dead, brand new,won't start.
Guy pulls over, tries tojumpstart it Won't jumpstart.
I put the little, a littlejumper that I had on it Won't

jumpstart, won't jumpstart.
I'm like this is ridiculous, youknow.
And before I would just be ableto pick up the phone and call
Hey, babe, my car broke down.
Can you come get me?
Let's go get a battery orwhatever.
And I'm just like, what do I do?
What do I do?
And I'm sitting in my car andI'm holding this necklace and
I'm crying and I'm talking toher and I'm like, babe, how I
don't even know why my batterydied.
It's like two months old.
Why is my battery dead?

And now you're not even here tohelp me through this.
God, if you could just please,please help me, tell me what I
need to do.
And I turned the car over andit started right up.
Wow, the battery's been in itfor three years.
Why, how, how you know?
Where can you explain that?
You just can't.
You know, and I've been aroundcars enough to know that that's
just not how it happened.

Speaker 1 (01:03:48):
So she needed a conversation.

Speaker 2 (01:03:50):
She needed a conversation you know, and I
looked at it and I kind of laughnow and I was like, OK, you
haven't figured out your powersyet.
You fucked up my battery iswhat you did.
You know you made it die and nowyou had to go back and jump and
get it going to make up for itbecause you screwed something up
So yeah, I just tell everybodyyou've got to, you got to talk

to them.
You know your friend with thedog that you said had passed
away, I promise you that dog isstill there and running around.
If it was a little yippy dogand running around and yipping
and nipping and biting andchewing, it's probably still
there in some way, shape or form.
I just I firmly believe all ofthat and I've talked to so many
different people.
You know Sophia had such animpact on people.
I walk into 7-Eleven across thestreet.

There's a guy in there.
It's two o'clock in the morning.
This was about two weeks afterit happened Hindu.
I end up having an hour longconversation about Hinduism,
which I know nothing about, andthe afterlife and what they
believe and how and what youhave to do and how you have to
ground your feet to the go tothe ocean and you ground it to
the ocean, to the heavens andthis hope we.

There's a restaurant we go to.
I walk in and, um, they wereMuslim.
Same thing, probably an hourlong conversation about this.
I have Catholic friends, I, youknow it's just, and I'm happy to
listen to all of this and thething that I that is that is
neat to me is there's no matterhow different the religions are
and how they practice religiondifferent, what they think
there's still a base is there'sno matter how different the

religions are and how theypractice religion different,
what they think there's still abase that there's something else
You know that part doesn'tchange from one to the other,
the other.
So I love hearing all thesedifferent you know views and way
things are and some I mightagree with and some I don't, or
some I question, but nonetheless, you know I don't take away
from any of them and I lovebeing able to hear that

different stuff and tie it into.
You know things that have thathave happened with, with her and

Speaker 1 (01:05:43):
And it's so cool that strangers are trying to help
you with you know your grief andgive you these, give you these
things to grasp onto, you know,I think that's very cool.

Speaker 2 (01:05:54):
She just made an impact.
You know everywhere the peopleat 7-Eleven, because they were
used to her coming in there.
This restaurant we go to it'san all you can eat Brazilian
steakhouse and I walk in acouple of weeks, two weeks after
everything happened, and I satdown and I hadn't started the
foundation or anything.
So I'm just sitting there and Ithink I might've had one of her
t-shirts or something with meand I'm ordering food and
finally one of the waiters comesover and he says sir, he's, you

know heavy Spanish accent.
He says where is the beautifulwoman that's usually with you?
He said we were in the back andwe feel like something terrible
has happened.
And I said, yeah, I said shepassed away about two weeks ago.
Oh, my goodness, the wholerestaurant.
They all come over that workthere, they all sit down, they
say a prayer, they're just there.

How did this girl make such animpact at a damn restaurant that
we would go to, you know, oncea month at 7-Eleven at every
bodybuilding show, sophia, whenyou guys were working such and
such a show, and she wasbackstage and she was the nicest
person and helped me do thisand helped me to just, I've

never met anybody that's hadsuch an impact on, you know, on
so many people Certainly not me.
So that's kind of how thefoundation came.
You know came around, I washaving lunch with one of my best
friends and I said I want to dosomething for her, but I don't
know what.
And he said well, what do you,you know, genuinely want to do?
And I said I want to.
I want to do for other peoplewhat she did for me.
I talk a lot about failingforward.

Speaker 1 (01:07:28):
I was going to ask you what that is.

Speaker 2 (01:07:30):
Yeah, failing forward and growth when you didn't
think it was possible, those arekind of my two.
You know things.
So failing forward came about.
Last year after my bodybuildingshow I was at masters nationals
in Pittsburgh best that I hadever looked went up there and I
took second and drove home and Iput a couple of pictures up and

I said failed, people flipped.
Oh my goodness, you didn't fail.
Look how good you look.
I mean mad at me for sayingthis.
And I wrote back and I said Ididn't fail.
I'm not a failure, but I didfail.
The question is, what do you dowith that?
And I said I'm going to failforward.
And that's when I startedputting that together.

Well, what do you mean?
I said well, I failed.
The Buffalo Bills lost fourSuper Bowls in a row.
They're the second best in theworld, but guess what?
That's not what they set out todo.
They failed.
The question is do you failforward?
Do you look at this and go hey,we lost the Super Bowl.
What do we need to do?

We need to run this and that.
So, same thing with me.
What do I?
What do I do?
How do I get better?
How do I fail forward?
How do I move forward?
And that happens witheverything.
If you're in business and youlose a big sale, that's a
failure, and your boss isprobably going to let you know
that it's a failure.
You know.
What do you do with it, do you?
Do you?
You know, take a little bit oftime and lick your wounds, yeah,

but then you got to go rightback out there and you got to
start prospecting again.
You got to get in front ofpeople and you figure out why
did it not close?
Was it price?
Was it objection?
Was it me?
How did I handle it?
Sports, you know.
All the time Relationships, asI've had enough relationships
that I've failed in that Ilooked to, finally ended up with

Sophia and had thatrelationship with her been 20
years ago, I probably would havescrewed that one up too.
But I failed forward enoughtimes that I knew what not to do
I knew the things that wereimportant and the things weren't
, you know.
So I talk about that with mykids.
The class that I teach isnutrition and wellness, and I'm
lucky enough that the firstquarter is really focused on

mental health and mentalwellness and I'm allowed to
really kind of teach it the wayI want to teach.
So I bring in a lot of my JohnMaxwell and leadership stuff.
We talk about failing forward.
We talk about finding your why.
You know, and it's differentfor kids than it is adults and
changes your life.
What's your why?
Why do you get up every morning?
You know Sophia is my why.
Still three years later, she'smy why.

And if you had asked me thatthree and a half years ago.
I'm not sure that would havebeen my answer.
I don't know, but there's noquestion about it now, right,
you know, as I said, there's alot of days I don't want to get
out of bed, but my why, says you, better get your butt up and go
, do what you got to do.
And then the other part to it isis growth, you know, trying to

teach growth when you didn'tthink it was possible.
And that was me living in mycar and I thought I was done,
mentally, physically, business,wise, done, you know, and
somewhere through that I wasable to find growth, through her
, from the gym membership I wasgiven.
And that growth was at a timewhen I didn't think it was

possible and it started out.
Physical started out because Ilost 20 pounds and I was like,
oh, okay, I don't look so bad,you know, and that gives you a
little bit of confidence and itbuilds on itself and it turned
into the job at school, you know, and that gives you a little
bit of confidence and it buildson itself, and it turned into
the job at school, you know, andit's kind of kind of blown up
and and gone from there.
But again, that growth when youdidn't think it's possible goes
through every aspect of life.
It could be in a relationship.
People get in relationships.

You've been, you know, marriedfor 20 years and the
relationship stagnant and thereis no growth.
Well, there there is.
You just have to find it.
You know it's growth when youdidn't think it was possible.
Um, you know, I've dealt, talkedto people that have gotten out
of prison.
Um, uh, a friend of mine,acquaintance of mine, kind of
the same thing, he had justgotten out of prison.

What do I do, dude?
Figure it out you.
You got to grow Like it's timeyou got to put you.
You forget what everybody saysabout you or what you did or
what happened.
That's done and paid for in theeyes of the law.
Time for you to move forward.
You know, figure out your why,why do you want to do this?
And your why might be to proveeverybody wrong, I don't care.
You just have to figure outwhat that why is.

You know, and get up and go.
So I love that growth when youdidn't think it was possible,
because that's really you knowwhat I deal with on a on a daily
basis and I deal with it at asa teacher and trying to get
better every day.
I deal with it as a friend, uh,with my brothers and sisters.
I deal with it, uh,bodybuilding, certainly.

You know I'm 55 and I'm going.
How do I get better at somepoint?
I'm not going to.
You know, right now I'm lookingat myself nine weeks out and
I'm going.
How do I get better At somepoint?
I'm not going to.
Right now I'm looking at myselfnine weeks out and I still
think I'm going to come in thebest I've ever looked at 55.
But reality, at some point isthere's going to be one of these
years where I'm going to go.
I still look good, but not asgood as I used to.
And growing a foundation is veryhard and that's probably the

biggest thing and that's where Ireally want to focus now is,
you know, turning this into amillion dollar organization.
I want this organization tohelp so many people, so I do it
through donations and through.
I have four different eventsI'm planning next year.
So we have a walkathon throughschool during Mental school,
during mental health awarenessmonth.
Um lifts for Sophia, which willbe um next February.

Uh, with gyms across thecountry doing some version of
We haven't really figured itout yet 222 reps, 222 something.

Speaker 1 (01:13:08):
Yeah, that's pretty money yeah.

Speaker 2 (01:13:10):
And then, um, uh, there's a bodybuilding show here
in July, which was the showthat she and I would have been
working, and the two women thatrun that show have made it in
her honor.
So I raised money for thefoundation through that show.
So it's her show and it's ashow that we would have been at

and again, like you said, it'sthe people that I want to be
It's still very, very difficultfor me walking into work, these
bodybuilding shows.
There's no place else I wouldrather be and nobody I'd rather
be with, but it's verybittersweet.

Speaker 1 (01:13:44):
As somebody who started a nonprofit.
It's hard work, but you're notdoing it for yourself.
You're doing it to carry on thelegacy of the person who
inspired it, and that'll keepyou motivated every single day,

Speaker 2 (01:13:56):
Yep, there was somebody had said in the
beginning well, you know howcome you're doing this?
You know with with her nameattached to it.
You know what about all thepeople that don't know who she
is and and never met her?
That's fine for like yourfriends and stuff like that.
And I said everybody knows whoAdam Walsh is.
That was what 1987, when JohnWalsh's son was murdered.

And I said you're 40 some yearslater and everybody knows who
Adam Walsh is.
And I said that kid wasmurdered at 11 or 12 years old.
I said everybody's going toknow who Sophia Graham is I
never met Susan G Komen I knowexactly what that is, how can my
listeners get involved?
I would say the first andforemost is go to the website

and check it out.
It's at 222musclecom orsophiagramfoundationorg.
You can certainly buy some swagwith the logo on it.
You can make a donation.
We also have an Instagram page,a Facebook page, a LinkedIn
Pretty much everything.
We're out everywhere, either mypersonal one or through the

foundation, is a great way tofollow stuff.

Speaker 1 (01:15:01):
How many gym memberships has 222 Muscle
provided given out?

Speaker 2 (01:15:06):
Triple digits.
At this point I don't know howmany, I'd have to go back, but
We're over a hundred that we'vedone.
You know, across the country.

Speaker 1 (01:15:13):
You know, I am watching the videos that I
watched and I'm reading aboutyour story and Sophia's story.
I feel like I know her.

Speaker 2 (01:15:20):
That's awesome.

Speaker 1 (01:15:21):
You know, I feel like I know her.
That's what I want, yeah that'swhat I want.

Speaker 2 (01:15:23):
Like I said, I talk about her continuously and it's
funny to see how you know, as Isaid earlier, how people react
when you bring your name up,because some people are okay
with it, but everybody's kind ofkind of not, you know.
So when I bring her up, and Ibring her up, I don't.
I can say that we're coming upon three years and I don't think
I've ever mentioned Sophia inthe past tense when I'm talking,

telling stories, and I'm like,oh, that's our favorite
Oh, we love that workout, youknow, because it's still we and
you know I love that.
I want people to know her.
Like I said, my kids certainlydon't know her.
You know my, my students, butthey all follow her on Instagram
, they all follow the foundationpages and they all know her and

they will bring stuff up.
I'm trying to think one of thekids one day they were talking
about arm wrestling or something, two of the guys in there and I
heard one them go whatever youthink you're strong, sofia would
kick your ass in arm wrestlingand I said my sofia, he's like,
yeah, we've seen her picturesand the kids were talking about
I said that's pretty cool that'svery cool that they know her in

that sense and and are, youknow, getting something out of
So I love love it Absolutely.

Speaker 1 (01:16:36):
And the answer to the question is it better to have
loved and lost than never havefound that love?
It's definitely better to havefound it and lost it, because I
sense that you're while you'restill grieving.
Your grief is subsiding everysingle day, but that love is
getting stronger every day.

Speaker 2 (01:16:52):
Yeah, and I was going to say, you know, to say that's
a love and lost, I don't, Idon't know that it was lost.
I you know, I love her more,like you said, I love her more
every single day and the thingsthat I loved about her become
more apparent, you know, everysingle day.
So great perspective, brother.

Speaker 1 (01:17:09):
I'm glad and, again, I think this is going to inspire
a lot of people.
If you're watching on YouTube,I've got 222musclecom up at the
on the bottom of the screen andthat's how you can help get
involved with Kelly's foundationto honor Sophia.
Awesome, it is awesome.
You're awesome, kelly, and sois Sophia.
Again, if you'd like to honorSophia and help people navigate

their mental health situations,you can go to 222musclecom.
My thanks to Kelly for joiningme and my thanks to you for
Sure would appreciate it if youwould subscribe to the YouTube
channel and tell people aboutthe podcast.
Also, if you have anysuggestions to make the show
better or topics you'd like meto explore, you can email me at

thefuzzymic M-I-C at gmailcom.
For laughter and fly-on-the-wallbanter, check out the Tuttle
Kline podcast.
My radio partner of 25 years,tim Tuttle, and I we go
unscripted and unfiltered inwhat's been called quote the
best damn podcast on theinternet.
Who cares if we were the oneswho said it?

New episodes every Wednesday.
The Fuzzy Mike is hosted andproduced by Kevin Kline.
Production elements by ZachSheesh.
At the Radio Farm, social mediadirector is Trish Kline.
Join me next Tuesday for a newepisode.
We're going to meet a childhoodsoccer hero of mine, whose
health issues are so numerous wedon't have enough fingers and

toes to count them all.
He's truly a living miracle.
See you next week and thank you.
That's it for the fuzzy mic.
Thank you, the fuzzy mic withKevin Klein.
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