Victor Cruz — like many Americans — dealt with some mental hardships in 2020.
The former NFL star exclusively opened up to Page Six this week about how isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement “challenged” him last year.
“I definitely had a bit of a breakdown,” the 34-revealed. “Just mentally, you kind of go through these phases of, like, indecisiveness and … ‘What’s the future going to look like?’”
Cruz, whose father was black and whose mother is Puerto Rican, added, “As a black man, [there are] even more deep-rooted issues than that.”
The Super Bowl champ said he turned to loved ones to help him get out of a dark head space.
“Thank God for my close friends, my circle, my people around me, because they kept me focused in times that seemed uncertain or when I needed somebody to talk to,” he said.
Cruz said he looks up to athletes like Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who inspire him to be a part of the change.
“Those are the guys that are really setting the standard and making sure that they’re putting their best foot forward when it comes to not only being an athlete and doing what they need to do for their respective teams, but just being good human beings and being people that give back to the community,” the former New York Giant said.
Cruz is doing his part by launching a fitness program called “UNDRAFTED” on the Ladder app that provides one-on-one coaching experiences and workout plans. He and fellow coach and trainer Eric Rakofsky are now offering scholarships for a lifetime membership to five “underdogs” who have had to overcome adversity — a prize worth more than $700 a year.
On the interactive app, users have access to the Pro Bowler on a chat channel, where he shares tips that have helped him stay motivated throughout his own career.
“My mom used to tell me not to quit,” Cruz said, revealing the motto he likes to follow most. “She was like, ‘Never be a quitter no matter what,’ and, obviously, throughout my life with so many ups and downs, I could have quit so many different times, but I always had her voice in the back of my head. … Just, always stay focused, always finish what you start and good things will come from that.”
The winners of the “UNDRAFTED” scholarship will be notified on Super Bowl Sunday via FaceTime and will receive a signed New York Giants jersey from Cruz.