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Teen with autism, viciously bullied three years ago, now triumphs on the jiu-jitsu mat — and gets a big boost from famous friends

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Image source: KFOR-TV video screenshot

Back in 2019, TheBlaze told readers about a 12-year-old Oklahoma boy with autism named Rayden Overbay who was being viciously and relentlessly bullied — and the attacks on him were recorded on video and shared on social media.

Image source: KFOR-TV video screenshot

His local community responded by supporting Rayden, and a nonprofit organization "Fight for the Forgotten" stepped in to help.

Three years later, it's safe to say things have turned around for Rayden in a big way.

What happened?

Turns out UFC and MMA superstar Justin Wren runs Fight for the Forgotten in Oklahoma City, and Wren gave Rayden first-hand instructions on the mat, KFOR-TV reported.

Image source: KFOR-TV video screenshot

With that, Rayden began training at Lovato’s Jiu-Jitsu School in Oklahoma City, the station said.

“I’ve learned to control my anger here and take it with me,” Rayden told KFOR, adding that he's been finding peace amid the grappling.

“It’s been a challenge for me but I’m getting better at it,” he added to the station.

Image source: KFOR-TV video screenshot

In fact, KFOR documented the moment when Rayden earned his first "stripe" — a major milestone for jiu-jitsu students.

“I’m ready for it," he told the station before the session. "I’m nervous but I’m excited nervous.”

What's not to love about famous friends?

As more and more people got word of Rayden's struggles with bullies, a number of famous folks reached out and got in his corner, KFOR reported, adding that a few sent him video messages of support as his "stripe" session approached.

“Continue your efforts,” iconic pro surfer Laird Hamilton told Rayden. “You will be rewarded.”

“Happy for you, go have fun, enjoy it, this is such a cool moment,” actor Jared Padalecki added.

“We’re proud of you, we’re rooting for you, always in your corner, man,” UFC star Dustin Poirier told Rayden, who was blown away.

“Probably one of the coolest UFC fighters,” Rayden told KFOR of Poirier's message to him. “I’ve got a lot of support.”

No doubt it came in handy, and the station said Rayden impressed his instructor, and the kid got his stripe.

Image source: KFOR-TV video screenshot

Rayden's father, Danny, couldn't have been prouder of Rayden — and particularly his ability to join his family in forgiving his bullies.

Image source: KFOR-TV video screenshot

“We’ve completely forgiven the kids for anything that happened,” Danny Overbay added to KFOR.

Rayden agreed, telling the station "it was a rough journey to forgive them, but I forgive them."

His dad also is looking toward the future with optimism, noting to KFOR that "it’s 100% up from here."

Anything else?

Wren’s Fight for the Forgotten organization soon will launch a free anti-bullying and peace-building program called "Heroes in Waiting," the station reported.

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