Terry Crews is known for his extremely muscular physique and signature move of shaking his pectoral muscles, but the star’s love of fitness started out of survival.
The “America’s Got Talent” host, 52, opened up about his “violent” childhood on Monday’s episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” revealing that he focused on building his strength to protect himself from his “abusive” and “alcoholic” father.
“Growing up was not a good experience. My father was very abusive, you know, he used to beat my mother,” Crews told Grylls while trekking through the Icelandic Highlands. “It was one of those things where I knew I would have to get stronger because one day I thought I’d have to fight him. That’s how it started out.”
Crews recalled experiencing the need to defend his mother as early as age 5: “I always, always had been like, ‘Be fit, be ready, be prepared, be there.'”
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Crews said he and his father, Terry Crews Sr., came to blows on Christmas Day in 2000 after his father “beat (his mother) one more time.”
“He had gone years without touching her, and he hit her in the mouth, knocked her tooth sideways,” Crews recalled. “I told him, ‘Get the kids out the house. Take the kids, everybody leave. Just leave me and him alone.'”
Crews said that although he gave his father a taste of his own medicine, it didn’t bring him the relief he thought it would. In fact, Crews said it left him feeling empty.
“I beat this man,” the actor said. “I remember he was begging, begging, and all I could think of was, this is how my mother felt. How do you like it? And this is the thing, Bear. I thought it would feel good. And he’s on the ground, bleeding, crying, and I didn’t feel one bit better. It left me with nothing.”
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Terry Crews is opening up about his difficult childhood. (Photo: Getty)
The “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star has since forgiven his father, crediting therapy with saving their relationship, even though it’s far from perfect.
“We hugged, he cried,” Crews recalled of their breakthrough. “Man, all I wanted was for us to be a family and for him to love my mother as much as we loved her. And then at that moment, I knew we had transcended.”
Grylls said Crews’ vulnerability is his “real strength. I mean your abs are good, but one of the things I love about Terry is that he’s just totally himself and he is honest.”
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