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CHICAGO – Before he became the 2019 Home Run Derby champion, Pete Alonso was a self-described “easy target” for bullying in his younger days.
The New York Mets rookie phenom was bigger and taller than fellow youngsters, and even labeled himself as “awkward.” And due to his personality, he didn’t fight back.
As he grew older, he still dealt with bullying and its side effects.
“At every level of education, I faced issues whether it be middle school, high school, college. It doesn’t go away,” Alonso told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. “Just because we get older, as time goes on, it doesn’t go away. That’s why I feel passionately about it.”
Alonso’s passion to join the fight against bullying is why he has joined forces with No Bully and Dosomething.org to help their campaign against cyberbullying, which affects 59 percent of teens, according to data released by the Pew Research Center.
Alonso and five-time X Games medalist Gus Kenworthy combined for a Shred Hate public service announcement.
“It happens to everybody I feel like at some point in their life,” Alonso said before the Mets faced the Chicago White Sox. “It’s a good thing to be part of, and I think that in order to make a positive impact, I mean, people need to stand up and address the issue head-on and be proactive about it. That’s the main thing about it. People address it after something happens, but if people can be proactive and be active and aware of certain situations, that can be really helpful in cases.”
Alonso, in his first year in the majors, has made it a point to try to pay it forward.
He always wanted to find a way to join in on the fight against bullying, and he thought this campaign fit with his goals.
While Alonso was not picked on later in life as he grew into a second-round pick, he knows that incidents can have long-ranging effects.
“Even in college, it may not be physical, but it’s more mental stuff,” said Alonso, who was raised and attended college at the University of Florida. “Some things stay with people their entire lives. It happened all throughout school in different forms, and I think for me, I’m kind of the person I’m not trying to do harm, I’m trying to be myself, and some people didn’t take a liking to it.”
Alonso, 24, regrets that he didn’t stand up to bullies as a youngster.
“If certain things happen, early in life, it can affect mental life later in life,” said Alonso, who entered Tuesday tied for second with 34 homers. “If we can be proactive and spearhead the issue, lives of a lot of young people are going to be affected by that.”
Alonso hopes he can continue to use his celebrity status to do positive things for his community, having already donated $100,000 of his winnings from the Home Run Derby to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Joining the fight against cyberbullying only furthers that.
“I want to do good,” Alonso said. “There’s a lot of things I feel passionately about that need to be addressed and I just want to do good and a lot of people have helped me in my life. Yes, there’s been negative things that happened in my life, that’s life in general. With those negative experiences, certain things I feel passionate about, I want to do good for other people. I just want to help, and I feel I have a good platform to help.”
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