Josh Turner’s life with Negan is nothing compared to his real life growing up. He hopes to use his role as a Savior on The Walking Dead to share that story.
Please note: This is a very personal and emotional story of hardship and may be very difficult for some readers, discretion is advised.
Before Josh’s father died in prison, some of Josh’s final words to his dad were to tell him to get it right. To let go of all of it. Get right in your heart. Don’t suffer. Let go of it all. He told him that he forgave him. That God chose him to be his dad and he accepted that. That he was thankful. Anyone can be forgiven.
Even though Josh was talking to his father, I can’t help but think that after telling his story to me, I’d like Josh to hear those words himself. And that the kids he hopes learn something from his story hear them as well.
“Anyone can be forgiven. Don’t suffer. Let go of it all.”
The road to forgiveness started with his grandfather telling Josh not to hate anyone. That God was writing his success story. This was after the guilt and hurt had consumed him and he was very troubled. The pain wouldn’t go away.
Josh became embroiled in spirals of drinking, drugs, church and rehab after an unimaginably difficult childhood and adolescence that included abuse, and murder.
A good student, but a goofball in elementary school, Josh didn’t get to enjoy school because his father kept him home from school. His bi-polar and schizophrenic father didn’t allow Josh to go to school or even to do school work at home.
His father beat Josh regularly with a baseball bat and taunted him with games of Russian Roulette with a gun, threatening to kill his sister, his mother and himself or if the gun clicked, he could just go back to sleep and not mention it to anyone.
His father ended up in jail for stabbing his mother attempting to kill her. Remarkably, Josh was able to tackle his father and stop him allowing his mother to be taken away by ambulance. Miraculously, she survived the attack.
Josh’s road to pro-wrestling began at 18, but was marred with tragedy. The mother of his first child wanted him to give up wrestling when the baby was born but Josh thought it was a good way to make money for their future. So the mother moved away and didn’t tell Josh where they were. In a shocking, unspeakable episode, the baby’s life was taken by its mother.
It’s easy to understand how the spirals followed these horrific events. But at 31, Josh has an incredible attitude. He continues to wrestle as a connection to his child. He uses the word blessing a lot and talks about what he has to do next. He had a very risky heart surgery the day before filming an episode of The Walking Dead.
He said he was at peace with it. He said his goodbyes to his family. But after the surgery, the doctor told him that somehow the heart had healed itself. They called it a medical mystery. He says he was blessed by God.
His heart healed itself and now Josh is healing himself, too. Part of that healing includes sharing his story with others. He says he knew that day what he had to do next. He thinks perhaps part of why he is on The Walking Dead is to be able to share his story. To help others know they can overcome horrible things, too.
I don’t think Josh knew it when he was telling me his story, but the words he told his father when he saw him right before he died in prison, just may be his father’s gift to him. When his dad didn’t know how to pray and mean it. They are beautiful words that Josh can now tell himself.
“Anyone can be forgiven. I forgive you.
Get it right in your heart. Don’t suffer. Let go of all of it.”
Thank you , Josh, for having the courage to tell your story and for trusting me to tell it.
Josh is currently playing a Savior on The Walking Dead and is professional wrestler Josh “TKO” Turner. He is also an ambassador for Fighting for Autism and Diabetic Warriors.
(Josh Turner, Telephone Interview, February, 2017)