What You Don't Know About Michael Vick
By Shawn Brown
The 700 Club
CBN Sports Director, Shawn Brown, recently spoke with Michael Vick. Here is his report.
“I didn’t cry because I lost money. I didn’t cry because I lost the cars and I lost fame and fortune. I cried because I lost my family.:
Michael Vick, one of the most exhilarating athletes on any playing field. In his first 6 seasons in the NFL, he became a nightmare for defenses. He could either pick them apart through the air, or on the ground. The 4 time Pro Bowler established himself as the fastest quarterback to ever play the game. But just before the 2007 season, Michael came to a chapter in his life that forced him to lean on the childhood faith he’d been running from for years.
“I grew up in downtown Newport News and that was the roughest part. The East end area and it was rough out there, a lot of turmoil, a lot of violence. It kind of shaped and molded me into the person I have become.”
Mike lived in the Ridley Circle housing projects where for a kid, gangs, drugs, and pit bulls were just white noise.
“I think it was the summer of like 1991-92. I heard a gunshot every night, every single night throughout the summer.”
Shawn Brown: “How did stay away from all of that?”
“I set a goal when I was younger and my goal was to make it to the NFL. And I didn’t know what it was going to take to get there. But I knew being gang affiliated wasn’t going to do it.”
Even though Michael was focused on football, it was hard to avoid being tempted by the consistent call of the streets. So he leaned on a Bible verse his grandmother gave him.
“In Jeremiah 29 ‘I know the plans that I have for you, you know, plans for you to grow, you know, prosper…’ That was the one that I always felt like was my life; regardless of what level I was on. Whether I was in elementary school, high school, or in college that’s what I always referred back to. My grandmother always took us to church. She always had a Bible on the table, always got spiritual on us whenever we got out of line. And the more I seen her praying, shouting, ‘Thank the Lord,’ the more I started to thank the Lord and believe that was the right thing to do. So, that’s when my faith started. That’s when I started to develop that belief in God that you had to have some type of belief and faith deep down. And you had to have some sort of commitment to the Lord.”
So that God’s Word would stay on his mind, he took it to bed with him.
“I was sleeping with the Bible under my pillow because I felt like I needed an edge in whatever way that I could get it. You always heard about the black quarterbacks not being qualified enough to play in the NFL. And I believed it because I heard it so much. And in watching, the NFL you see it was predominantly white. I just said to myself, ‘That it can’t be true. I’m going to need some extra help. I’m going to need a certain belief, a certain type of trust. In nobody –no man only God and the Spirit to get me there.’ I felt that way at a young age.”
Shawn: “Are you saying that Michael Vick, young Michael Vick, because of all the things they were saying about African-American quarterbacks started to affect you a little bit, and there were some doubts?”
“There was doubts. There was doubts, but I leaned on the Lord.”
Shawn: “Welcome to Warwick High School, the launching pad that propelled Michael Vick to national notoriety as the quarterback for the Virginia Tech Hokies. Here’s a look back a younger Michael Vick just before he entered the NFL.”
Michael at the 2001 Sugar Bowl: “God is more important than anything. I think that He’s showing me how to be a leader who knows how to be calm and how to be a humble person, to have respect for other people around me… how to respect my opponent.”
Interviewer off camera: “And you take Him with you on the football field?”
Michael: “I take Him everywhere with me. He’s in here with me right now.”
Shortly after that, Michael was selected first overall in the 2001 NFL by the Atlanta Falcons, a chapter in his life that sent him to some of the darkest places he’d ever been.
“The transition from college to the NFL is a –just different world. You got the world in the palm of your hands. You got money. You got women. You got everything under the sun. You got drugs. You got marijuana. You got, whatever you’re into, whatever floats your boat, whatever makes you happy, and you just start to feel like you just got to live life.”
Shawn: “Did you feel untouchable?”
“Yeah, in a sense I felt like I was untouchable. I felt like, like I said, I felt like I’d been blessed. I prayed about this to happen to me. I prayed for success in life, prayed for wealth and got it all. So what more is there to do? So there was no more sleeping with the Bible under the pillow. It was no more saying my prayers at night. I was going to sleep drunk, going to sleep high, going to sleep probably with a different woman beside me every other night and just living a different life.”
On the field, Michael’s career was soaring on the wings of the Atlanta Falcons. Off the field with his faith tucked away, this time he didn’t resist the call of the street, which lead to dog fighting.
“My first experience with dog fighting came when I was 8 years old. It took place in rural areas, but sometimes it was out in the public. It was out in an open area where people could see. And we overlooked it.”
Shawn: “You’ve got the money. You’ve got fame. You’ve got everything you could possibly want. You’ve already got the money. Why did you feel like you needed dog fighting?”
“It was something that I gravitated to and I liked the competition part about it.”
Shawn: “So it really wasn’t about the money? It was more so about the competition.”
“It wasn’t about the money. It was just about the competition. I wasn’t fighting for the money. You know, my friends cared more about the money than me.”
After 6 seasons with the Falcons, Michael was on top of the football world. But his competitive activities off the field sent him straight to prison.
Shawn: “Let’s talk about that moment of being stripped of everything. When you realized, ‘Man, I’ve just lost everything.’”
“That was tough. That was a hard pill to swallow. You’ve got to take into consideration everything that you’ve worked for, everything that you’ve been given. The hardest part is thinking about the good times.”
Shawn: “Did you ever break down?”
“I broke down plenty of times, yeah. Absolutely. I’m a man. I’m a tough guy. I can endure—I endured a lot, I can endure a lot. But sometimes you get weak. I didn’t even cry because I lost my freedom. That wasn’t even the hard part. I cried because I lost my family. I lost my loved ones, and I’m family-oriented. So that’s what got me.”
When he went to prison Michael was engaged to Kijafa, and had three children, Mitez, Jada, and London.
“You know Matezz, he kind of understood it early after seeing it on TV and cried and we talked about it. But Jada at the time was 3½ and I was behind the glass. She kept telling me to come over to the other side of the glass and I couldn’t. It was rough. Rough.”
Shawn: “At what point did you have total remorse for your actions in dog fighting?”
“You know what’s so crazy, I always had remorse for my actions and what I was doing, even in the moment when I was doing it, I always felt like, ‘Man, wow, why am I even involved in this?’ And I still think I went to prison because there were certain people that I needed to get away from. So it was bigger than dog fighting. It was bigger than my situation as a whole. I think it was done to bring awareness to that. It was done to show that regardless of who you are you will get punished and you’re not above the law. And for me spiritually, don’t lose sight of how you got here. Stay humble.”
Michael spent 18 months in prison before he was released in 2009. Naturally, he wanted to make it back to the NFL. But first, he had to make things right with God.
“The time I spent in prison, I spent putting my ideas together on how I was going to come back and make it all right. I still prayed. I still felt like having my faith was the best thing that I could have, more so than money or anything else.”
In August of 2009, after the Falcons organization released him, Michael was offered a 1 year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles as a 3rd stringer. By the next season after the trading of Donovan McNaab, Michael became the starter. The true Michael Vick had arrived. He’s now in his 10th season in the NFL. He’s been a busy man. He and fiancé, Kijafa married in the offseason, and he’s thrust himself into several charitable works through The Michael Vick Foundation, as well as working with the Humane Society to help strengthen animal welfare laws. He’s also written a book entitled: Michael Vick: Finally Free, which chronicles in detail his journey. He says that this time around his priorities are in order and his relationship with God is at the very top.
“It’s evident that I need a relationship with Jesus Christ. Just look at everything that I’ve been through. Look at my walk. Look at how I’ve been able to come back. Look at what I’ve been given. Even in my darkest moments, those are the times when you need to lean on Christ. Why wouldn’t you? Who else are you going to lean on?”
Shawn: “How is Michael Vick different before incarceration and now?”
"Before I go to sleep now I make sure I take time to say my prayers regardless of what type of day I had, regardless of what type of night I had. I give thanks throughout the day, now. I thank God for the clothing I have. I thank God for me being able to wake up and be with my kids and my family and the blessings that I’ve been given. So, I’m following in the footsteps that I’m supposed to follow in. (I’m) Walking the walk that I’m supposed to walk. I think I’m favored. I feel like I got to give my blessings. I feel like I got to give my thanks. So I make sure my priorities are in order. I make sure I walk that walk, and I’m being obedient, even though I’m not a saint. I don’t do everything right. I think it’s all in your belief and how strong it is. And I think mine is stronger than most.”
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