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Beating the Odds

What Wrestling Did for Tom Cruise

When Tom Cruise arrived at Glen Ridge High School in the 1970s, his classmates could not possibly have seen a future movie star, a megastar whose talents are most recently on display in “Mission Impossible– Fallout.”
They would instead have seen a young man of below-average height and average looks.
His teachers could not have been too impressed, either. They would have seen a struggling student.
What no one could have seen was the young man’s knack for making the right moves — and the courage to make them.
“I took a lot of chances in my life,” he once told TV interviewer Merv Griffin.
One of the moves was to go out for wrestling at school. As this Daily Mail article says, it gave him a way to fit in when he arrived as the new kid in town. Former wrestling captain Tom Jarrett was quoted in the article as saying, “I think wrestling gave him some focus and a way of dealing with his aggression.”
Another move was to try out for the school play when he was injured in wrestling. He auditioned for “Guys and Dolls” and won a part. From there one thing led to another.
“I’ve been really lucky,” he told Griffin in the self-effacing way that has won him wide appeal.
No one in high school could have seen it coming. Cruise was a hidden gem, shaped by forces including dyslexia and an abusive father. He was so hidden that he was voted “Least Likely to Succeed.”
He kept on taking chances, doing his own stunts. In this video he takes late night talk show host James Corden skydiving.
You’re tempted to say that Cruise beat the odds, except that there were no odds. He was not even on the betting line!
But there’s a life lesson here. Greatness is all around you, if you know where to look. It may even be inside you.
Skydiving seems like a nice metaphor for Cruise’s life. After all, you can’t dive from the sky until you first get there. And when no none else knew what was inside him, Cruise in his own way had his eyes on the sky.


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