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Fort Wayne professional bodybuilder qualifies for Mr. Olympia, uses platform to help men struggling with mental health issues

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - A Fort Wayne professional bodybuilder has qualified for Mr. Olympia, and he's using his platform to help other men who may be struggling with mental health issues.

Deontrai Campbell is a professional bodybuilder. He said he's the first Fort Wayne native to every qualify for Mr. Olympia, the biggest competition for bodybuilding.

Campbell is scheduled to compete in Las Vegas on December 19th.

However, his journey to the big stage wasn't easy.

Campbell told Fort Wayne's NBC News that he played football at South Side High School and at Indianapolis University. He said he had dreams to play in the NFL. However, that didn't happen."

"I was just lost because football was all I knew," Campbell said.

Campbell said lack of focus led to drinking and addiction, which caused his depression.

"It was almost some suicidal times," Campbell said.

However, one night Campbell said he decided to turn his life around. Instead of going out to the bars, Campbell said he started going to the gym and he eventually found his passion in working out.

Campbell said working out allowed him to manage his depression and find clarity in his life. He said it taught him how to care for his mind and body, which led him closer to his faith.

"That's when Christ came into my life and I started to find that joy again. That happiness, and purpose," said Campbell.

Campbell eventually became a personal trainer, and competed in his first bodybuilding show in 2014.

However, it didn't stop there.

Campbell created an online ministry called Campus Muscle. He said the ministry helps men reach their physical goals and helps improve their mental health.

"He's always reaching out to me to make sure I am okay. I appreciate it so much," said Frank Taylor, a client.

"This year has been a nightmare and he's been right behind me, right by my side this entire time pushing me along," said Aaron Lassandro, a client.

Campbell said he's using his past experiences dealing with mental health issues to help start a conversation about mental health. He said more people need to be open about the topic.

"With depression, with suicidal thoughts, with anger, with all these things, many men, majority of the men that come to me struggle with, and you don't even know it."

Deontrai Campbell

Campbell said he hopes other men can use his journey and life experiences as proof they can also overcome their mental struggles.

"Once you conquer those demons and push through those tough times, I guarantee on the other side you're going to find your purpose," said Campbell.

Campbell said he also credits his time serving in the military and his wife for helping him become the man he currently is today.

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Louie Tran

Louie Tran is the weekend anchor for Fort Wayne’s NBC at 6 and 11pm and a weekday general assignment reporter. To share story ideas, please email him at ltran@wpta21.com.

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