Stefano Disalvo is a professional esports gamer. At 19 years old, he is a member of the Los Angeles Valiant, an American professional Overwatch esports and one of two Overwatch League (OWL) teams competing in their inaugural season.
Disalvo, who goes by the name of “Verbo” grew up in a broken, divorced home in Toronto, Canada, raised by his grandparents and mother. Both he and his mom suffered from depression and he says his grandparents weren’t very supportive. His mother then took Stefano and moved into their own place and the two became inseparable, even best friends.
“I ended up moving to multiple different schools because I felt like I was getting bullied,” Disalvo said in an LA Valiant feature. “I guess you can say I hit rock bottom. My mom was going through the same thing I was going through. She was going through depression as well. It was constant doubt, my grandparents, family, saying you’re no good, you’re not raising your family right.”
Finding faith in God, Disalvo saw that his mother had discovered a new spiritual side to her, so he decided to follow suit and try this church thing out.
“She saw being a Christian as something that was going to help her. This was the time I started going to Verbo Church and I heard about faith. I said, ‘you know what, I’m at rock bottom, what else can I really do? Is it really going to hurt me to check this Christian thing out?’ And that’s what I did and it was the best decision I ever made.”
Stefan said this was also the time he started to think about pursuing professional gaming and esports.
“When I started to play games, it was because I wanted to escape from the hurt that I was going through,” Valiant said. “I didn’t really feel a sense of purpose at the time, but I knew God was doing something in my life and this was part of his plan for my life.”
As he started to realize that turning pro was becoming a reality, he wanted to come up with a new name, a moniker of sorts, something that would have a deeper meaning than just a nickname.
“I wanted to pursue pro, and I knew that I needed a name to mean something,” he said. “All of sudden this thought came into my head, change it to verbo. I asked the pastor, what does verbo mean? He said it means the word of God translated from Spanish and Italian. Verbo doesn’t represent my name, it doesn’t have anything to do with me personally, it has to do with faith.”
Stefano wants to use his platform to provide hope and inspiration to others and ultimately point people to one that healed him and gave him purpose — Jesus.
“I want to represent a way for people to relieve the pain that they go through. I want to represent something that I was able to overcome through God. That’s literally the main reason that I’m in esports and why I’m a pro player to use this microphone that I’ve been give to make positive change in anyway that I can. Faith has given me strength to keep going and to keep pressing on. It helps me battle fear when I’m not feeling great, when I’m feeling scared. I’m so thankful for this journey I’m on because its given me a sense of identity. It’s what led me hear today and that’s what I play for.”
Check out Verbo’s entire story below: