At the age of 9, Dieunerst Collin was the subject of a viral video-turned-meme when he crossed paths with a man while standing in line at Popeyes.
Now, the viral sensation is a football champ who's receiving recognition for his performance on the field.
We tend to attract greatness 😌— Popeyes (@Popeyes) December 6, 2021
Over the weekend, the 6-foot-1, 315-pound senior, nicknamed "The Killer Whale," won the state championship along with his East Orange High School football team, following an undefeated season. Last month, the offensive lineman also made the All-Conference First Team.
He celebrated the victory on Twitter with a picture of himself holding the trophy.
"STATE CHAMPS AND REGIONAL CHAMPS IT WAS A HONOR TO LEAD THIS OLINE THIS SEASON. SENIOR SZN HIGHLIGHTS COMING SOON," he tweeted.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Collin took a trip down memory lane when he revealed internet fame wasn't always a pleasant experience for him.
"When it first happened, I kind of felt sad about it," Collin said. "It was somebody randomly recording me, and I've never been viral before."
"When it first came out, I would take it as bullying every time I used to hear, 'Oh, Terio, Terio,' and that's not my name," he continued. "A couple of weeks later, I figured out it was me based on the video. I got kind of emotional, cried a little bit. Over the years, I got over it."
Collin shared that he experienced frequent bullying from older classmates due to the viral moment, but later "got over it" once he switched his focus to staying true to himself.
"When I was in middle school, I had a couple of people say things like, 'You're Terio, you're a meme,' and it was all the high schoolers," Collin said. "People in my class found it very funny, so then I just continued being myself. I got over it once everybody who would randomly come up to me and call me Terio actually met me and learned my actual name and got to know me; that's when I got over it."
Although Collin admitted that he took it personally when peers recognized him from the viral meme in the past, he hopes his story will inspire others not to bully.
"I would say just don't take it so personal, because when I did take it personal, I did get to a place where it was like, 'I don't know if I want to go out anymore," Collin said.
"And stay close to friends and family ... you'll also meet new people when you don't take it as personal," he added.
After graduation, the viral star intends to attend college to work in sports media.