The Story of Terry Crews and How “A Thousand Miles” Drastically Changed His Life
With a larger-than-life personality, an impressive physique, and a wide array of talents, Terry Crews has built a prolific career that includes acting highlights like White Chicks, Everybody Hates Chris, and Brooklyn 99, as well as providing hosting duties for shows like America’s Got Talent.
Crews is much more than a former American football player, illustrator, actor, host, and writer. His is a story of ups and downs and of overcoming adversity and bad habits in order to become a better man.
He lived through a rough childhood.
Terry Crews was the middle child in a household made up of his parents and his 2 siblings. He grew up in a very religious home, where he was mainly raised by his mother. He recalls being the target of abusive behavior from both of his parents, but mostly from his father, who was also abusive toward his mother. He even stated that he started working out in the first place in case he needed to protect himself.
He grew up in the city of Flint, Michigan, a city known back then for the automobile industry. Crews recalls having big dreams, even in his early years, but he was often dismissed and told that his dreams were not attainable and that it was better to just stay in school.
Crews did stay in school, but he never gave up on his dreams. He discovered a predisposition for the arts at a very early age, particularly music, thanks to gifts he received during his childhood. He was gifted a drum set at the age of 2, and then a flute a few years later. He applied himself to learning how to play the flute for about 8 years, and even to this day, he still showcases his flute-playing skills.
His natural talents for the arts soon paid off. After graduating from school in 1986, he spent one summer camp at the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts. He also got an art scholarship at Western Michigan University, and was soon rewarded with a full athletic scholarship for football, as a sophomore.
Finding the love of his life
It was during his time at Western Michigan that he met a music and theater student named Rebecca King. The pair soon fell in love, though it almost didn’t happen. According to Rebecca, Terry almost got “stuck in the friend zone” because he was too nice to her. Luckily, love soon blossomed between the 2 and it sent them on a long path of companionship.
Soon enough, the pair tied the knot in 1989, when Terry was only 20 years old. This would mark the start of a tumultuous yet ultimately inspiring relationship that is still going strong, despite all the hardships that they’ve endured.
The couple currently has 5 children, including Naomi, a daughter that Rebecca had before she got together with Crews. Terry adopted her as his own, and she’s given the couple their first grandchild.
During his time at university, Terry Crews found his calling for American football.
Terry Crews played as a linebacker for the Western Michigan Broncos, and his successful time as a college football player allowed him to be drafted into the NFL in 1991. His NFL career lasted until 1997, playing for a slew of teams in the process. Overall, he played 32 games in the league, with most of his appearances happening while he was playing for Washington and the San Diego Chargers.
His retirement from the NFL came after a coach dislocated his finger after he threw a ball at him. He recalls that being the moment that made him realize that he didn’t like playing football anymore. He has also grown critical of some aspects of being a professional American football player, like the tendency to act out in fits of rage.
Even during his time as a professional football player, Terry didn’t abandon his artistic endeavors. In fact, they were of paramount importance during his time in the NFL. Terry has said that his career in the NFL wasn’t very successful, as he would often be on the bench or would get cut from the teams he played for. During this time, he would ask his teammates if they wanted a painted portrait, and he would use the money from those commissions to feed his family.
His talents also led him to do a line of NFL-licensed lithographs. He has also said that the imagination and creativity behind this type of work were transferred to his work in the film industry.
Searching for a dream
After retiring from the NFL, Terry and Rebecca moved to Los Angeles in an attempt to help Crews achieve his lifelong dream of becoming part of the entertainment industry. In fact, shortly after meeting his wife, Terry told Rebecca all about his dream of becoming part of the NFL and then going to Hollywood to make movies, though he didn’t think he would be acting in them.
While he was still playing in the NFL, he had his first taste of the film industry when he co-wrote and co-produced the independent film titled Young Boys Incorporated. He claims that the movie was not good at all but that it was instrumental in getting him interested in becoming part of the industry.
A fresh start in front of the cameras
His impressive physique helped him land his very first acting role in 1999 as part of the competitive game show Battle Dome, where he played the role of the arrogant competitor T-Money. The show featured athletic competitions between the contestants, but it also had scripted segments, which allowed Terry to showcase his larger-than-life personality in front of the cameras and live audiences.
He struggled to find acting work after Battle Dome was canceled in 2001, but he was finally cast in the movie Friday After Next in 2002. Regarding his relationship with acting, he stated, “I love the camera. I started behind the scenes and directed. I never took acting classes. I’d just ask myself, ‘What would you like to see,’ and it worked. Making movies isn’t easy, but it’s something I’m born to do. Once I found my calling, I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Terry walked A Thousand Miles to get his big break and achieve worldwide recognition.
Arguably, his most iconic moment came just a couple of years later, when he played Latrell Spencer in White Chicks. To this day, the most remembered scene of the movie is when Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles plays in the car, and Latrell subverts all expectations by singing along, declaring himself a huge fan of the song. In reality, Terry was laser-focused on delivering a memorable performance, so he memorized the song and the now-iconic choreography that went along with it. He states that this scene changed everything for him, as suddenly everybody recognized him for it.
After that, Terry Crews started getting higher-profile roles that increased his mainstream notoriety, including his participation in shows like Everybody Hates Chris, Arrested Development, and Brooklyn 99, and movies like Click, The Expendables 2, and Deadpool 2, setting him on track to become one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces.
Overcoming bad habits and correcting past mistakes to save his marriage.
Despite the substantial amount of success that Terry Crews enjoyed in his professional life, he developed bad habits and behaviors that would deeply jeopardize his marriage to Rebecca King—he developed an unhealthy obsession with not-safe-for-work content. In a series of videos where he details his past habit, he states that he kept it a secret from everybody, which allowed the habit to grow and become a major problem.
In 2010, over a phone call, Terry Crews admitted his long-standing habit to his wife, as well as some incidents where he had been unfaithful to her. This ended up being a make-it-or-break-it moment for the marriage, as Rebecca left Terry, seemingly signaling the end of their marriage. This was a wake-up call for Terry, who sought therapy and went to rehab to address his problem, which allowed the couple to get back together.
The couple have been candid about their struggles—especially Terry, who has been open about his unhealthy habit. He is one of the most notable public figures to speak out against issues such as toxic masculinity, as well as stand up for women’s rights, and he has used his past habit as a way to teach a lesson to other men. He detailed that this habit contributed to a sense of entitlement toward the world, including his wife. He started believing that he was more valuable than her and that she owed him things, but assuming his problem and seeking therapy helped him see the error in his ways.
In his series of videos talking about the issue, Terry offered advice to other men who are going through similar unhealthy habits, telling them to forgive themselves first: “You have to get rid of shame. Shame doesn’t say you did something bad. Shame says you are bad. When you think and believe that you are bad, there’s no way out. If you believe that you are bad, then you act accordingly. You have to change that paradigm in your life. You have to believe that you are good.”
A man of many hats and muscles
Terry Crews is a walking source of inspiration, purely due to the fact of how he has thrived in different fields and professions. Aside from all of the previously mentioned endeavors, he has written multiple books about his life, as well as written and illustrated children’s books. His ventures also include design and film production.
Regarding his successful career, he has given advice to younger people: “I know you can have it all. Why must you abandon school to play basketball or football? The important thing is just to be well-balanced. Well-rounded and learn about life. Get out and see and do things, so you know what your passions are and what makes you tick. It’s not always college. Just develop your skills, then what you choose will be magic.”
Do you share any of Terry Crew’s talents? Which one of his many talents would you like to have?