Although he fell short of his “The Titan Games” dreams on Thursday night’s episode of the NBC fitness competition show, former Penn State football player and Bellefonte athlete Tyler Lucas reached a national audience with his story of hard work and a brotherly bond.
Growing up in the shadow of his older brother, Kyle Lucas — a three-sport athlete for the Red Raiders — Tyler was always told he wasn’t big enough, he wasn’t fast enough, he wasn’t athletic enough to compete like Kyle.
“It was tough,” Tyler, 25, told the Centre Daily Times. “I’d hear it all the time: ‘You’ll never be as good as your brother.’ It was just extra motivation for me to do it and work harder. The competition with my brother was a big motivating factor, and something that’s always pushed me.”
The competition inspired Tyler to follow in his brother’s footsteps. After graduating from Bellefonte Area High School in 2011, Tyler, like his brother, walked on to play football at Penn State and later joined the Air Force.
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It was Kyle, 28, who at first encouraged Tyler — who was at first a little hesitant to be in the spotlight — to try out with him for the NBC show, hosted by their childhood hero Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In the finale that aired Thursday night — in a battle to be named the inaugural male “Titan Games” champ and win $100,000 — Tyler was the last Lucas brother remaining.
But Kyle, who was eliminated in the first round of competition, didn’t sound bitter about watching his little brother succeed.
“My whole life, my mom’s always been like, ‘Your brother looks up to you,’ ” Kyle said on TV after his elimination, getting emotional. “Now it’s flipped; I look up to him. And that just drives me to be better. He’s my idol. Every day I strive to be like Tyler Lucas.”
The show’s producers allowed Kyle to stay on set for the duration of Tyler’s run on the show during filming in September. With Kyle stationed at an Air Force base in Colorado and Tyler at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, trying out for the show at the combine in August and filming a month later provided a rare opportunity for the two brothers to spend time together.
Kyle supported Tyler throughout the show, shouting words of encouragement — “Let’s go!”; “That’s my brother!” — from the stands. At the end of each victory, Tyler ran to embrace his brother.
“It was awesome to go through that experience with him, to be able to cheer him on and have him there to cheer me on,” Tyler said. “We were just lucky to be the sole siblings on that show and to be each other’s support system.”
Tyler’s run on “The Titan Games” ended Thursday night against lawyer Derik Scott in the “Hammering Ram” challenge. The challenge required the two athletes to uncover a sledgehammer hidden under one of three 300-pound metal boxes, hammer two steel post to release the 350-pound ram, and break open the gate before his opponent. Tyler had the early lead, but in the end, Scott was able to break the door open first to move on to “Mount Olympus,” where he finished runnerup to beer-delivery man James Jean-Louis.
Despite falling short of his ultimate show — to become the male “Titan Games” champ — Tyler voiced gratitude for the experience and the opportunities it’s afforded him.
“A lot of people have hit me up, telling me how I inspire them and motivate them,” he said. “Companies are reaching out to sponsor me. It’s like I’m somewhat famous now, which is crazy, because, to me, I’m nothing special. Just a regular guy who was given an opportunity.”
Now that the show is over, Tyler is looking to his next challenge — getting back on the gridiron and making his debut in Germany’s professional football league.
Another challenge remains, too: The brothers have yet to settle which of them is most athletic, Kyle said in a tweet after their “Titan Games” episode on Jan. 31.
“I’m always down for competition, so, Kyle, we can settle this whenever you want,” Tyler said with a laugh. “Bring it on, my man.”