Tony George was always fascinated by the process of turning himself into a physical strong safety. And when his playing days were over, he began to train other athletes.
But at one point, he had to take care of his mind.
Two seasons with the New England Patriots took more of a toll than he realized. After starting H.E.A.T. Pro Fitness in 2005, he had to step away from his work in 2012 for 18 months.
“It was catastrophic,” he said. “There were voices in my head and suicidal thoughts. I had to step away so I could see the bright side of things again.”
He took that time off before returning to work in 2014. H.E.A.T., in Charlotte, N.C., has helped 116 athletes earn college scholarships.
“I train everyone from everyday people to MMA guys,” George said. “Ray Lewis, Will Smith, guys like that have been through here.
“The first time I saw the change in the first person it was a huge deal for me. It gives me great pleasure.”
George lives in Lake Wiley, S.C., and is engaged to be married in two months.