The Titan Games’ Steven Shelby goes from deputy sheriff to TV hero

THE TITAN GAMES -- "The Titan Games Premiere" Episode 201/202 -- Pictured: Steven Shelby -- (Photo by: Steve Dietl/NBC)
THE TITAN GAMES -- "The Titan Games Premiere" Episode 201/202 -- Pictured: Steven Shelby -- (Photo by: Steve Dietl/NBC) /

The Titan Games season 2 star Steven Shelby talks being a deputy sheriff and TV competitor.

When NBC‘s The Titan Games premieres Monday, Steven Shelby will be taking on a massive challenge—but he’s no stranger to challenges as a deputy sheriff in Ohio.

Steven spoke to Precinct TV about how his background helped him on the reality TV series, what he learned from the other law enforcement officers in the competition, and the message that he hopes TV viewers take away from watching him compete.

Get to know Steven Shelby in our interview before you check him out in the TItan Games season 2 premiere this Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

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Precinct TV: How did you first become involved in law enforcement?

Steven Shelby: I was originally in the military before I got into law enforcement and I wanted to continue to serve my country and then transfer over to my community to hopefully make a better, more of a defined impact on my community. To try to get kids to get into law enforcement or get into the military or college or law enforcement, and just [to] look at a different path.

I came from the inner city. I came from a troubled home, especially after my dad got in the military. So it was something I just felt like I had to do, to try to reach back and help others, pull them up outside of their situation.

PTV: Several Titan Games competitors come from law enforcement. Did you get to talk to any of them and learn anything from their experiences?

SS: Yeah. A lot of it had to do with drugs and how they deal with classifying drugs in different states. We had an officer there from Sacramento, California; obviously it’s legal there. I’m from Columbus, Ohio; here, it’s just a minor misdemeanor. It’s a still ticketable offense, but really just how different agencies connect to the community, how they engage with the community in policing.

We were one of the first agencies to have therapy dogs, that are community liaisons and liaisons to take to victims of crimes to help them [for[ therapeutic purposes. A lot of the guys never heard of therapy dogs before. It’s a good way, especially for kids, to be able to open up and really talk without feeling like they’re in the interrogation room or interrogation environment.

But as far as stories, every day is crazy. You just don’t know what you’re going to see or experience. Especially my time in corrections, in the correctional part of law enforcement, it was entertaining every day. I had a new story coming home every day.

PTV: This is a physical and mental challenge, plus the added stress of being on TV. But being a deputy sheriff comes with its own stress and challenges. So was it an easy transition when you got onto the show?

SS: I transitioned with it just fine. I’ve dealt with being overseas and deployments, and for me, my outlet honestly is fitness. I had a dark time in my life where alcohol was not an issue for me, but definitely was a developing problem. So I ended up turning to fitness as a way of obviously releasing the endorphins and searching for a mental health clearance.

On Instagram I talk a lot about mental health, just so people can understand to maintain and try to keep their head level with whatever situation that we’re dealing with, especially this [coronavirus] quarantine. It’s easy to get cabin fever and to really feel isolated.

But this was a fitness competition; I thrive at that because I know in stressful situations, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. You get distracted about your opponent. But if you just take a deep breath and look at the broader perspective of what you need to do as a task, you can look for an opportunity and try to take it.

Now that’s really hard to do—especially when I was in the military overseas, you get tunnel vision when you’re in combat or in war. And it’s hard to look at the larger perspective of understanding that this is just another challenge. That you have to take a deep breath and look at the broader picture.

PTV: How did you come to the idea of applying for The TItan Games season 2 originally? What about it was a new challenge for you?

SS: I am an avid fan of The Rock. I’ve been watching The Rock since I was ten years old…For years he’s made a huge impact. My life resembled a lot of his, leaving Hawaii on not good terms and having so many barriers. When I didn’t get accepted to the Marine Corps, I felt like my entire life crashed, like he didn’t get accepted to the NFL. So I had to look for a different obstacle. He went to wrestling; I went to the Army and it ended up being a blessing in disguise. The Army opened up so many doors.

Just seeing how he has able to face adversity, and change his perspective of success, I’m trying to do the same for myself. So when I saw he was doing The Titan Games, I knew that I wanted to meet this man and I wanted to gain this man’s attention because there’s so much inspiration that he has on my life.

I wake up at four in the morning, I work out, I grind every day. When I get off work, I try to go to schools and help kids with their graduation tests, ACTs, SATs, getting them ready for boot camp, running my own physical ed gym class after school…Doing The Titan Games was a dream come true.

PTV: Did you learn anything from the show that you brought back to your career with the Sheriff’s Office or other ventures?

SS: On the fitness standpoint, I am starting new avenues, new journeys. I was primarily just into bodybuilding. Now I’m trying CrossFit, high intensity interval training, I’m trying a little bit of power lifting as well. Just trying to get myself into an overall better athlete.

But as far as being on the show—just being a Titan and really getting to embrace what they call mana, which is the energy that was there at the Titan Games—I [made] lifelong friends that we’ll never disconnect from one another. There’s just beautiful memories of every athlete. I remember every athlete’s name and what they look like. And we always check on each other periodically

We knew on the field we were against each other, but off the field we were still friends. We still understood that everyone has individual, independent struggles that we dealt with that got us there. I’m looking forward wholeheartedly to see everyone’s backstory. Just the moments that we spent with one another, it was empowering. It was amazing.

They really cast us very well. We had to do the combine, but selecting [the finalists], they did very well. The casting crew did amazing because there were no egos. Everyone there was humble and genuine.

PTV: What message would you pass on to viewers who are watching you compete?

SS: I loved being on the stage. I want to continue to create a platform that teaches other people that the stars are literally reachable. The sky is not the limit. The ceiling that you have is only what you put on yourself. I mean, I never thought that I would ever have the chance to be on the same screen as The Rock or even be on NBC. I just want to try to use this platform to try to continue to do more.

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The Titan Games airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. on NBC.