'Peanut' Tillman encouraging kids to dream big, get past their challenges

Former Chicago Bears favorite Charles "Peanut" Tillman had anything but a normal childhood. So, he knows first-hand the struggles many kids face.

Tillman is a native Chicagoan who didn't have it great growing up. But he told a few dozen kids you don't have to be a product of your environment.

“I’m here today to let you guys know, I’m not different than you guys,” Tillman said.

He’s a fan favorite, a pro-bowler and 13 year veteran of the NFL. But on Friday, the former Bears cornerback put himself on the level of school kids who may not realize their lives look a lot like his did growing up.

“I had to deal with violence, I had to deal with going to funerals, divorce, I had to deal with profiling. So I think my stories can help kids. They can relate to them,” Tillman said.

That is why local author Sean Jensen thought Tillman would be perfect to feature in his book series. They partnered for "The Middle School Rules of Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman."

“There’s so much behind the scenes that I’ve gotten to know him off the field that he does that people have no idea what he does on a daily basis. And he takes very seriously the platform he has,” Jensen said.

Tillman has a hand in charitable organizations and runs his cornerstone foundation helping to improve the lives of chronically ill children, which is a product of his own daughter's struggles with cardiomyopathy. Tillman always dreamed big, but his achievements have exceeded even his own expectations.

“I never thought I’d be an NFL player, I never thought I’d write a book, never thought I’d go to the White House. I’ve done so many cool things and why not you? Dream big,” Tillman said.

And that's a message even the littlest of minds can get behind.

Jensen and Tillman’s book "The Middle School Rules" can be purchased on Amazon or in local Barnes and Noble stores for $14.99.