OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A Yukon teen is achieving triumph after trauma.
Three years ago, KFOR first told you about a 12-year-old boy with autism who was the victim of violent incidences of bullying.
Now he’s fighting back, inspiring others with a new hobby and messages of peace and hope.
It may not seem like the most tranquil environment but for Rayden Overbay, the mats of Lovato’s Jiu-Jitsu School in Oklahoma City are where he finds his inner peace.
“I’ve learned to control my anger here and take it with me,” Overbay said.
Rayden knows how to get back up, even after the toughest of times.
It was 2019 when we first met Rayden and his family after he became the victim of violent bullying at school.
UFC and MMA superstar Justin Wren heard Rayden’s story and stepped up to help through his non-profit “Fight for the Forgotten.”
Wren showed him the ropes on the mat where Rayden was able to reclaim his power.
“It’s been a challenge for me but I’m getting better at it,” said Overbay.
He’s getting much better.
In fact, he’s now marking a milestone in his Jiu Jitsu career.
“I’m gonna get my first stripe tonight,” Overbay said. “I’m ready for it. I’m nervous but I’m excited nervous.”
Helping to settle those nerves- video messages from some famous new friends
“Continue your efforts,” said professional surfer Laird Hamilton. “You will be rewarded.”
“Happy for you, go have fun, enjoy it, this is such a cool moment,” said actor Jared Padalecki.
“We’re proud of you, we’re rooting for you, always in your corner, man,” said UFC star Dustin Poirier.
“Probably one of the coolest UFC fighters,” Rayden said of his message from Poirier. “I’ve got a lot of support.”
When the time came, Rayden didn’t disappoint.
He earned his first stripe with an impressive performance.
Rayden’s dad says his training has improved his health and attitude – leaving tough moments of the past in the rearview.
“We’ve completely forgiven the kids for anything that happened,” said Rayden’s dad, Danny Overbay.
“It was a rough journey to forgive them but I forgive them,” Rayden said.
Now, the sky’s the limit.
“It’s 100% up from here,” Danny said.
Justin Wren’s OKC-based non-profit “Fight for the Forgotten” will soon launch a free anti-bullying and peace-building program called “Heroes in Waiting.”