UH football player uses personal experience to help youngster who was bullied

Adam Winkler Image
Saturday, June 17, 2023
Bullied boy with autism treated like a star with UH football team
Brody Bledsoe, a boy with autism, got the chance to be the top star with the UH Cougars football team, thanks to center Jack Freeman.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Being on a school campus was no longer comfortable for Brody Bledsoe.

"I got bullied," the youngster admitted to ABC13 during an interview Friday. "He slammed me into a water fountain and said racist things to me. It's just really hard to describe. I was emotionally depressed."

The 11-year-old, who has autism, according to his mother, recently finished a nightmare of a fifth-grade school year. His mother, Mallory, who works in special education, is still emotional, describing the bullying her son endured.

"There were many, many, many nights that my child would cry himself to sleep because he didn't want to go to school the next day," she told ABC13 while fighting back tears. "As his mom and the person that is supposed to protect him, that was hard."

Searching for anything to boost her boy's spirits, Mallory asked a family friend for an assist.

"To do the things they're doing to him and say the things they're saying to him, I don't like that," Jack Freeman admitted.

Freeman, a University of Houston offensive lineman who started all 13 games at center for the Coogs football team last season, has known the Bledsoe family since his high school days in north Texas. But that's not his only link to Brody's situation.

"I was bullied whenever I was younger for being overweight," he revealed. "Everybody would be looking at me. I'd just be sitting there getting called 'fat.'"

On Tuesday, Freeman brought Brody to UH for a VIP tour of the athletics facilities, a meet and greet, and an autograph signing with Coogs players. During an on-campus visit Friday, to which ABC13 was invited, Brody was again on Coog cloud nine as he and his mom ate lunch with the football team.

"I know how cool that was," Brody said of his experience. "It was amazing."

"He has slept in his UH football shirt for the past two days," Mallory said with a smile on her face. "To say he was excited is an understatement. This is what life is about. Not just helping my child, but any child who feels like they can't speak out."

Freeman has been where Brody has been, and there are many others with the experience of being bullied.

"It's definitely hard to hear him have to relive what happened to him," Mallory shared. "But we hope him speaking out helps another child who may have gone through this, and he can watch this clip and go talk to his parents or her parents."

"There's always something that somebody next to you can do," Freeman noted.

Brody calls Freeman "Big Jack" because of his size. He's clearly got a large heart, too. Because after an awful experience on campus, Brody is beaming on the UH campus, thanks to a little love from Jack Freeman.

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