DES MOINES, Iowa -- Sunday's game still feels like yesterday for 12-year-old Carl Tubbs. He recalls the surreal moment when he met Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins. It forever changed the football team he’ll choose to root for in the future.
“I was a Packers fan because my parents were Packers fans,” he laughed.
Tubbs admits he’s a football fan, but Irish dancing is his true passion. A fast learner and quick on his feet, he’s good at it but self-conscious of his hobby. After his classmates at school learned of his dancing, that’s when Tubbs says the bullying began and the idea of quitting was becoming more appealing.
“They were just saying I was acting like a girl.”
Tubbs' mother Joanne says she began to see her son emotionally pull away.
“When a kid scrapes their knee or falls down, there’s pretty easy fixes for that, but when they are hurting on the inside you have to get creative,” she says.
The Des Moines mom of three took to Twitter, calling out to Ravens football player Alex Collins for help. Collins is also an Irish dancer, taking lessons to help improve his footwork.
The player responded to the family's tweet saying, “never stop doing the things you love because someone else doesn’t agree.” The tweet garnered more than 3,000 likes and hundreds of retweets. Those tweets led to an invitation to Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, as well as sidelines passes and a meet and greet with the player. Collin told Tubbs, “I want to let you know I’m proud of you man, I can’t wait to follow your career.”
He's a football player turned personal cheerleader. “I know siblings and parents will do that, but like an NFL player, it’s really encouraging to know that I can do anything,” says Tubbs.
An army of strangers helping the 12-year-old regain his shine.
“It feels like you are getting a hug from the whole world,” Tubbs' mother says tearfully.
The social media post also caught the attention of The Riverdance, a dance organization based in London that invited the boy to a performance next year in Boston.