A 19-year-old Detroit brawler who suffered childhood abuse and to deal with his father’s addiction to drugs is now fighting for his life after winning the UFC 209 strawweight title last weekend.
Tajae Sharpe grew up in a family with two of the most dramatic struggles.
Sharpe’s father, a gang member, was a part of gang culture throughout his life, and he became addicted to drugs. When he was on and off the streets, he was often in danger of being hurt or killed.
Most of that abuse involved his mother, who is also a former gang member and also struggled with addiction to drugs.
His mother admitted to abuse on her mouth as a child.
“There was other times I got beat up too,” Sharpe said in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” “She did that because she was frustrated or frustrated or thought it would change me. I remember the day when my mom was first pregnant with me. She was in the house and I was sleeping in the living room and she came in, she was pretty beat up, and she kicked me in the face and was mad at me and I remembered hearing her hit me because it hurt my lip.”
“She hit me a lot of times. My whole face was scarred,” Sharpe added.
Sharpe said his mother eventually quit getting high to become more strict with him and his two siblings.
“I felt like it [drug use] messed us up,” Sharpe said. “They [the drug users] were a bunch of bad people. I didn’t want to be involved.”
The fighter’s dad also spent time in prison.
“He [my dad] was a street guy who came up out of the streets. He was a gang member, then got into some bad behavior and stuff,” Sharpe said. “He spent time in prison too. A lot of time he used to have trouble with the law but he got straightened out and was a better person.”
His father got clean and began spending time with Sharpe and his brothers.
“He didn’t want to bring us up on drugs but used to bring us up on some bad habits,” Sharpe said. “One of my brother is on meth and that’s how it started. It’s about being as clean as I can.”
Sharpe and his brothers also had to deal with his mother’s addictions to drugs and alcohol.
“My mom had a lot of drug problems,” Sharpe said. “You could see it in her face when she would be drinking or doing drugs or whatever she was on. It hurt. It was hard to watch.”
Now, as a proud winner of the strawweight championship, Sharpe is encouraging other people with similar struggles to seek help.
“Keep it together,” Sharpe said. “Never give up. If it doesn’t come right away, it will come.”