Eric Hipple was born in Texas and raised in California. He was an active child and teenager, involved in snow skiing, hiking, and football. He excelled in football at Utah State University, graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Computer Science degree, and was drafted to the National Football League (NFL) by the Detroit Lions in 1980. During his ten year career as quarterback for the Lions, he accomplished two playoff bids, a divisional championship, and was awarded the Detroit Lion’s most valuable player award for the ’81 season. He is currently ranked fifth in career passing yards for Detroit. From 1995-2000 Hipple was color analyst for the FOX NFL pre-game show in Detroit. Since his 15-year-old son Jeff’s suicide in 2000, Hipple has devoted his life to building awareness and breaking down the stigma surrounding depressive illnesses. Hipple has received prestigious awards for his work, including the University of Michigan 2015 Neubacher Award for work with stigma associated with disabilities, the Detroit Lions 2010 Courage House award, the 2008 Life Saver Achievement award given by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as a presidential citation at the American Psychological Association’s 2006 Annual Convention for his six years of national community-based work combating adolescent depression and suicide prevention. His message of resilience has provided mental fitness awareness to professional groups, military, law enforcement, schools, communities, and through the “Under the Helmet” program, thousands of high schools and youth coaches across the country. In conjunction with U.S. Fleet Forces, he has provided workshops on suicide prevention during the last four years by focusing on positive Mental Fitness. He co-authored a study examining depression among retired football players, which appeared in the April 2007 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. His book Real Men Do Cry received a publisher Presidential Award. After spending eleven years as liaison in outreach to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center, he currently serves as Outreach Specialist for Eisenhower Center’s “After the Impact” program, a neuro-behavioral residential treatment facility serving military veterans and former NFL players. He has three daughters, four grandchildren, and lives in Fenton, Michigan, with his wife, Shelly.
Tarah Hipple-Thomas graduated magna cum laude from Eastern Michigan University with her Bachelor of Social Work degree in April of 2017. Her goal is to specialize in trauma focused therapies. Tarah has personal experience dealing with post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and self-harm, as well as overcoming these issues through intensive therapy. She has a book of poems published called Tarah’s Song: Words of Survival. For the past two years, Tarah has been speaking to schools and the military with her father, Eric Hipple, about their struggles with depression and the importance of mental fitness. Tarah lives in Washington and continues her studies to obtain her Master’s degree so she can help people the way she was helped.