Secular Presentations

World-Record-Setting Athlete and Inspirational Speaker

Bob Holmes is a one-man, world record-setting volleyball player who travels across the U.S. and around the world playing exhibition volleyball games solo against teams of players and speaking to audiences to show them how they too can ‘Be a Winner by Beating the Odds’.  To date, Bob has played over 20,000 games of volleyball solo against teams of players and shared his inspirational message to a combined audience of over 6 million people.  His game record currently stands at 19,800 wins – 417 losses.  

Bob has also played volleyball solo against teams of professional athletes including the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Miami Dolphins, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Buffalo Bills, the Washington Football Team (previously known as the ‘Washington Redskins’), and the Baltimore Orioles with Hall of Famer Cal Ripkin, and he’s won every game.

Bob holds the world’s record for having played more games in any sport than any other athlete alive and was featured in the ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ worldwide record book.  He has also been featured on ABC News, CBS This Morning, CNN, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.

Since 1983, Bob has dedicated his life to helping prevent and deal with teen and adult depression, bullying and suicides, and inspiring audiences with his powerful and uplifting message. Countless lives have been impacted, as expressed in thousands of letters he has received. Many have shared that they considered or planned to commit suicide but changed their minds after seeing him play and speak, and others say he helped them understand how to deal with tough circumstances, negative feelings, bullying and depression.  

What is even more remarkable about Bob’s story is how he overcame a number of obstacles to achieve all of these feats.  Growing up, Bob was not at all athletic, didn’t enjoy sports and in gym class he was often the last one picked to be on a team. Though he had played volleyball in gym class, he never played on a team in middle school, high school, or college. As a boy, Bob was a very shy person and found it difficult to talk to other people.

Following college, Bob drove long distances around the country for his career. After traveling for 6 years he developed such severe back problems that after a long drive he would need the help of two people to walk from his car to a building. A doctor diagnosed that he had developed a pinched nerve from sitting in a car for lengthy periods of time and recommended that he get more exercise.  

It was at that time that Bob began playing volleyball 3-4 times a week with a friend in the backyard. Eventually he would play solo against a team of people whenever there was an opportunity. He had not imagined that he could beat an entire team all by himself, he was simply playing these games to help his back problem. The energy it takes a solo player to cover the court for one game is like playing four games as part of a team. He began to realize after playing several hundred games that he could consistently beat teams in volleyball.

After watching the famed Globetrotters basketball team entertain a crowd and seeing the joy they brought to people, Bob came up with the idea of a one-man volleyball team. He began thinking that he could play exhibition games and share his message with students in public schools. He explains, “This way, I could demonstrate to people that they can beat the odds they face just as I was doing on the court.”

In 1985, Bob called some schools in an area where he was traveling for work and asked a local high school principal if he could come in and play exhibition games with teams of student athletes and a faculty team. One high school principal replied, "You’re going to play them all by yourself? I’m going to book you just to see that myself.” Eight schools booked Bob to play volleyball and speak during that week. He won every game that first week on the road.  

Since then, Bob has traveled around the country often playing 40-65 volleyball games a week solo against a variety of teams, bringing the message that you can ‘Be a Winner by Beating the Odds’ to diverse audiences and groups including students, teachers, military veterans, prisoners at correctional facilities, the National Guard, and fans at sporting events, and more. He has played over 20,000 games and spoken to over 6 million people and counting. Bob and his wife and 3 girls live in Tennessee.


Dear Bob, When you came to my school, I was about to end my life. I did not have anything left to do except take up space in everyone's daily lives. I felt useless. I was going to end my life on my birthday Which is coming up on September 26. I had already prepared to hang myself with my own computer cord It was only a matter of time. But every day I think of how you beat the odds and won against the volleyball team. And that is my motivation to keep on going. You are my hero Bob. I would like you to share my story with everyone else. Just keep motivating.

– Your Newest Friend, David

I was raped several times when I was six. My mom was a drug addict and my dad never wanted me. Mom was 16 when she got pregnant with me and she was going to get an abortion, but my grandmother wouldn't let her. So, she resorted to doing even more drugs during her pregnancy. As a result, I am blind in my left eye and have multiple heart problems. I just want to say thank you for showing love and care for millions of people you don't even know! You brought a true answer to the problem. I hope you can continue to visit more schools and give your message of hope even more!

– Samantha

I was planning my death a few nights ago, and prior to meeting you today, I cut my wrist twice Tuesday night. However, I'm not the least bit ashamed to say that I will no longer continue to self-mutilate because of your message All my life, I've just wanted to meet someone who showed that they truly care whether I'm alive or if I just disappear suddenly. You sir have shown me that there is hope and staying alive is worth it.

– A Student

My name is Brittany. Before your speech, I had been cutting on my hip to the point that the tiniest scratch would make it bleed once more and I have thought about suicide many times. After you cam to my school, I realized that I should just find new motivation and that there ARE some people who care about my soul. When I got home that day, I went and threw away the blade I had been using to cut. I just wanted to thank you for what you said. THIS saved me. Thank you soooo much. I will never forget it.

– Brittany

I had everything planned out. I was going to go home and take a bunch of pills. But when you came and gave that speech it made me think of what’s ahead for my life. Love your message, AMAZING! Please, Bob, please don't stop sharing the messages. Please don't stop reaching people. Share my story as an inspiration to other teens. You reminded me that I can beat the odds. Please share my story.

– Sincerely, A Student


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