Uriah Hall, currently ranked 11th in the UFC Middleweight division, writes about his experience with being bullied when he and his mother first immigrated to the United States. Uriah moved to Queens, New York, from Jamaica when he was 13 and was immediately met with severe bullying.

Avoiding the bullying was the only thing I cared about. There were days where I literally could not get out of bed in the morning because of the fear inside me.

He writes about it now to help others realize bullying is less about your own inadequacies and insecurities and more about the insecurities of those individuals doing the bullying.

I don’t speak of it often — mostly because the man I am today has changed so much from the boy who thought so little of himself — but I hope by sharing my story, it will empower others to stand up for themselves, to believe in their abilities and their worth, and to realize how important they are.

He also credits martial arts as playing a critical role in his maturity from a teenager suffering with suicidal thoughts to a world class athlete.

Martial arts became everything to me: my father, my courage, and my discipline.

Becoming a highly ranked mixed martial artist has given Uriah self confidence and the understanding that violence isn’t the answer, respect yourself and respect others.

It’s taken a lifetime to learn, but I know now that none of us has to apologize for who we are, and none of us has to accept others treating us with anything less than the respect we deserve. It doesn’t matter if you’re smaller, weaker, or look different than anyone else. It’s OK to be afraid, but never, ever believe that hurting yourself or others is the answer.