18 Sep

Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa, September 2012

Recently, television history was made when Michael Strahan beat out strong competition to become Kelly Ripa’s co-host, and Regis Philbin’s replacement on ABC’s nationally syndicated talk-show Live!.  Mr. Strahan is no stranger to history-making.  After fifteen years as a New York Giants’ award-winning defensive player, a Super Bowl (XXXV) Championship and a successful career as a sports commentator, Michael is obviously comfortable being at the top of his game in front of the American television-viewing public.   Indeed, Mr. Strahan is considered a shoo-in for the NFL Hall of Fame in 2013.  Live! with Kelly and Michael launched amidst much fan-fare on September 4th.

I spoke with Michael’s mother, Louise, in August, and again on the morning of Michael’s debut.  Courteous but initially cautious, she was excited and proud to see her baby boy take the spotlight in this new arena.  She was happy he had gotten what he wanted and worked so hard to accomplish.

Mike is the last of six children – two girls and four boys.  Precocious and always happy, he was doing “homework” with his older siblings, even as a toddler, and started school in First Grade, bypassing kindergarten altogether.  He was, Ms. Louise said, something of a procrastinator, but always “a great student”.  Generally described as an army brat, Michael moved from base to base, but spent his most formative years in Mannheim, West Germany.

A rambunctious lot, Miss Louise says the four boys romped and got up to all sorts of shenanigans: but when she had talked enough, to no avail, it was time to break out the strop or the switch and “Let ‘em know who’s boss”!  Nothing could dampen Michael’s irrepressible spirit, however.  She says he was always well-liked, affable and even then, charming.  And beneath all of that there was a fierce determination to succeed.  His parents made it clear that whatever he wanted, he’d have to work for it – and work he did:  Being industrious was a part of his heritage – his dad, especially, being a US Army Major, enforced this ethic; says Michael in an interview with Veterans’ Advantage,

Michael Strahan and Father, Gene (undated)

“Because of my father’s military background, I learned discipline and about hard work.  My father was and still is the biggest influence in my life,” he said.

Mike was always energetic and participated in all sports — his mom coached the basketball team and his dad was a champion Armed Services boxer.  But Gene was the primary influence in his athletic career.  It’s been reported in different sources that Mike would get up at 5:30 AM to run the 82nd Airbourne Unit’s obstacle course with his dad, going for up to five miles at a time, and this when still a youngster. And it is most likely from Gene that he gets his fierce determination to win at all cost.   In his book, Inside the Helmet: Hard Knocks, Pulling Together, and Triumph as a Sunday Afternoon Warrior, Mike describes his feelings after losing a game,

“When you lose, you feel so incredibly sick to your stomach, you want to crawl up into the fetal position and literally hide… you can’t even face the cashier at a McDonald’s drive-through window… After a loss, I feel nauseated. My insides burn. I don’t feel like eating and there is not a single thing that can help me get over it, aside from a win.”

Gene fostered young Mike’s penchant for success, and both parents assured him he could do anything and be anything – but he would have to work for it.  Take no hand-outs, work hard and practice often and keep at it until he got to be the best he could be.  Mike himself admits he hates to lose, but his biggest opponent is always his own last record — he always seeks to up his game.  On his auditions for Live!, he says, “…after the first time, I was like, ‘I can do better’ and I wanted to do better. I’m competitive.”

And Gene says, in this New York Times article,

”I never pushed him to come along on those morning runs, that’s the thing,” Gene said. ”We’d be up in the woods trying to stay in shape for this elite outfit, and the next day, he would be right back there. I never asked him to come to the gym. Something was gnawing at him to make himself better.”

It is this phenomenal sense of greatness that makes Michael the unbeaten record holder for the most sacks in an NFL season; and the Giants’ defensive captain who led them to the 2008 Super Bowl Championship.  Mike resigned football immediately after that season and embarked on Life After The Super Bowl.  He parlayed his extraordinary NFL career into a super-successful TV personality, a sports commentator, a TV sitcom, and now his co-hosting spot with Kelly on the Emmy-winning and hugely popular Live!  Filling Regis’s shoes is no easy task, but this six-foot-five linebacker should have no trouble doing just that. In fact, according to Broadcasting and Cable Magazine, Mike’s self-described “two dearly distanced front teeth” smile has sent Live! into “ratings stratosphere”!

In one of my phone calls to Ms. Louise, as she grew more comfortable with me, her smooth, rich Texas drawl became more pronounced when she expressed how proud she was of Michael, because “he always wanted to be something”.  She further explained why she was proud of him,

“One thing I like about him is that even with all this success, it didn’t change his personality – he’s still the same Michael he always was.  Everyone says that about him”.

His parents remain his biggest fans.  I asked her does he take care of them, and she says, “Oh, yes!”, with obvious joy and pride.  Michael himself, in his book, describes how,

“Before I was in the NFL, I told my parents that if I ever made it, I would buy them a house. Ten years later, when I wanted to fulfill my promise, I didn’t put a price limit on finding their dream house. My parents didn’t have an extravagant lifestyle, but I also didn’t expect it to be under $500,000.”

Which brings me to the other side of Michael Strahan:  Known to be a popular, charismatic leader, it might surprise many how much family means to him.  The word itself, family, appears thirty-five times in his book, a paperback of only 320 pages!  He goes back often to visit them, and he, his siblings and parents have always had, and maintain, a warm and close relationship.  He considers his family a “solid background that some fellows don’t have”.

Ms. Louise says Mike continues to live by the no-nonsense principles they instilled in him, hard work, earning your keep, honoring your word, finishing what you start, speaking your mind while respecting others, and saving your money for a rainy day.  (And Mike’s generosity and sense of community are well-known:  he helps out several charities, was one of the first sport stars to contribute large sums to the 9/11 fund and he is also at the forefront of the NFL speaking out about gay rights.)

In her warm, well-modulated anecdotes, the stories of Mike’s childhood are funny and spotlight many of their lifelong tenets:

Michael and his Mom, Louise, (undated)

In spite of their being comfortable, the Strahans encouraged frugality and little extravagance – Mike’s favorite meal was “whatever she put on the table!”  He had no choice in the matter.  And when adolescent Mike decided he wanted to become a professional cyclist, a la Lance Armstrong, the bike he wanted was waaaaaay outside their budget.  His parents challenged Michael to raise half the cost and they’d put up the balance.  By cutting lawns, working at the commissary, typing reports for school-mates and whatever else, it took Mike but a few months to present Gene and Louise with his share.  And it was this same frugality that insisted that Mike go to a U.S. High School for a semester so he could qualify for an athletic scholarship.  And when he did get the scholarship, but didn’t want to stay at the college after the first semester, it was the same frugal, finish-what-you-start mentality that kept him there, “My Dad was like, Son it’s free, I am not paying for you now, you are going.” http://juicychitchats.blogspot.com/

Mike’s racing bike still hangs in Ms. Louise’s garage; at least once per year she laughingly threatens to put it out with the garbage.  Mike however, holds on to that bike as one of his first symbols of what can be attained by a dream, determination, hard work, and parental support.

Here are a few basics on Michael Strahan:

DOB:  November 21, 1971

Place of Birth:  Houston, TX

Complications at birth: None

Birth:  natural

Birth weight:  big

Breast or bottle:  N/A

Talked when: normal

Walked when:  normal

Potty trained when:  normal

Siblings:  3 brothers, 2 sisters

Birth order:  last born

Raised in: Army Bases around the country and world

 Race: Black

Looks:  Takes after his mother and father

Religion:  Christian

College: Texas Southern University


  1. hyie September 19, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    Excellent piece! The formula here evidently includes a father as the fundamental element of support, stability, leadership and motivation. It seems his father’s insistence on integrity and perseverence made all the difference. In a nation that is increasingly becoming “fatherless”, this argues for a return to traditional values.

    • Shelly September 19, 2012 at 10:40 am #

      I so love the concept of this Blog! And I agree with Hyie on the fact that Moms and Dads are both important to the formula 🙂 Keep bringing us the good stuff Heads.

      • whatstheformulablog September 19, 2012 at 10:49 am #

        Will try my best to keep bringing the stories. Thanks so much for visiting!

    • whatstheformulablog September 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      I agree! thanks for visiting.

  2. Brian Fox December 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Micheal straham is the best player the giants has ever had.

  3. Curtis Jules December 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Michael Strahan has proved himself as an inspiration to all football players ranging from peewee player to the pros. His work ethic and dedication was one of a true hall of famer. his stats, his amazing plays, his legacy will always be remembered. With the support of his family, he truly became everything he wanted to be. – Curtis Jules

    • whatstheformulablog December 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      You gotta love him! He’s transcended football to become a media personality with equal respect. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Johanna Vasquez February 13, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    I have never been a football fan I have no idea who you are but I am pleased to see another African American be successful.

  5. Torsha Cupid February 14, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    Despite being and African American in this country, Michael made strides to become part of the elite. I commend him and am very proud to see him continue on the path the God has created for him.

    • whatstheformulablog February 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      He certainly is part of the elite, esp with his new hall of fame status! thanks for stopping by.

  6. Stannard Edwards February 15, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    I feel like the discipline and training that Michael Strahan received when he was young played a great part in the success that he received in his later years. The values that he received from his family was obviously another factor that helped him throughout his life. The dedication and commitment that he shows to every thing he puts his mind to is noteworthy and exemplary.

    • whatstheformulablog February 15, 2014 at 10:36 am #

      Thanks for commenting.

      • rikkitimbo February 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

        Michael Strachan’s story was a significant example of how the barriers of hardship can be defeated with determination, resilience and willingless to hend advice. You must want to succeed, not just say you want it. As a student, sometimes I feel like giving up and it can be a bit cumbersome to keep up with time but I always have to remind myself that I need to do my best to get the earnings of a great life. Stories like this one are such an inspiration.
        Thank you for sharing.

        Ricki Rupine

      • whatstheformulablog February 16, 2014 at 11:01 am #

        Good luck with your endeavors, Ricki.

      • rikkitimbo February 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

        Thank you

  7. reynel February 16, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    Determination and commitment has helped Michael in his success. He was taught how to be discipline from a young age this has enabled him to go forward in life. His parents instilled in him great values that caused him to persevere. He appreciates his family and they support him. These are some of the reasons why he is so successful.
    God has blessed you Michael. Continue to do the good work and success will follow

  8. yuling February 16, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    Michael personality because of his father’s military background, he learned discipline and about hard work. HIs father was the biggest influence in his life. Also, his parents made it clear that whatever he wanted, he’d have to work for it. Michael love sport because his mom coached the basketball team and his dad was a champion Armed Services boxer. So the parent’s genes and their job influence him. Also, he thinks he can do better and he wanted to do better. So he has achievement in his life. Causes his passive and encouragement make him work hard and love his life.

    Another contributed to the measure of his success that Michael passion on football. Mike was always energetic and participated in all sports. Maybe with his family background, his parents influence him habit. When he has determination to win and he try his best to do that. He wants to do the best and perfect. His spirit that makes Michael the unbeaten record holder for the most sacks in an NFL season. The reason why he make success because his has a passion on his sport and goal.

    Michael is a dutiful son. He is very filial towards parents. I think this is very good personality. He goes back often to visit them, and he, his siblings and parents have always had, and maintain, a warm and close relationship. This makes he like his team member and have great relationship with his team player. The football need cooperation with his team, so he has good relationship with team is the important thing. Even though, he already is a famous people. He still respects other people and help people. For example, he helps out several charities, was one of the first sport stars to contribute large sums to the 9/11 fund and he is also at the forefront of the NFL speaking out about gay rights. Also, he don’t waste money, he save money and buy the house for his parent.

    In conclusion, I think the contributed he made because he has passion on his life and sport. Also, his parent influenced him a lot. His parents are coach and military. So, he have good gene to study sport. No pain, no gain. He works hard on his sport. So, he gains the success.

    • whatstheformulablog February 16, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      Dear Yuling, thanks for being so thorough in your comments. I appreciate the though you put into it.

  9. isiah trice February 18, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Raised with both Mother and Father in one home is valuable. But it only come of value if both Mother and Father push their child to be the best they can be. That is what this story reflected. Kudos to Michael number one fan (Parents)

  10. Steck Morales February 18, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Oh, wow this a great story of success. This story is good to inspired minorities like myself, it demonstrated that if we want something and we fight for that goal we can achieved. It is good to see people like him that has been successful in live having another goals and still having that hungry for success.

  11. Allison Mc Knight February 19, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    Michael Strahan had strong family support from his parents. They advised him on how the world works. His father, was his greatest influence and Michael strive to be like him and better. Learning to finish what you start takes determination and this was instilled in him at an early age. Also, hard work and self-determination always opened the doors to success for him throughout his life.

  12. Tiyana Jarvis February 20, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    Michael Strahan’s versatility in his career has greatly contributed to the measure of his success. Strahan has shown to be a great role model for aspiring kids who want similar careers to his own .Strahan’s Importance for family.school and career success has made him a “Hard worker” at what he does.

  13. Jordan Sinkler February 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    The formula to success requires drive, and focus. It’s something that most people are born with but it’s also something most commonly found in people who go the extra mile. You have to be a leader, you have to be innovative and creative.

  14. Brittney Dixon February 24, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    Michael is a great athlete. I don’t understand why the press is getting into his personal life to find out every single thing about him. I feel that the press is violating his privacy unless he consented for his information to be published on this blog. No ones personal information should be on the Internet especially personal and embarrassing ones like if Michael Strahan was breast feed or used a bottle. Also, the race is wrong as well. Instead of saying he is black, they should have said African American.

  15. christina singh March 4, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Micheal Strahan was an African american football player, he accomplished a lot and didnt let anyone or thing bring him down. He had the support of his family members and they stood right behind him. He is a great role model for the younger and older generation, in which others want to follow in his foot step. Not like many football players is is very smart and he didn’t stop working after his career and he is loved my many.

  16. Jason Alleyne March 6, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Michael Strahan was about his hard work and focusing on the best person he can possible be. Raised by his mother just, he became understandable and more complex about woman. Success isn’t given it is earned! Always strive to be great.

  17. clarisa quinones March 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    Michael Strahan story is very inspirational. His story shows how when you really want something you have to dedicate your self and be determined.

  18. Bunner March 30, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    The story says “spare the rod and spoil the child”, once children of whatever color or creed are thought the value of hard work, discipline and respect. more times than not, they will be good citizens of any society.

  19. Malik Williams April 1, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    While both parents are important, this article shows the importance of having a positive male role model. Too many young black males dont have many examples in their everyday lives on how to be not just good men but good husbands and fathers

  20. Brittany Banks April 1, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Mike father was in the military and is his biggest influence he played all sorts of sports

  21. RasSean Simms April 1, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    Big fan good luck guy 👏👏

  22. Destiny spence April 1, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Having a father to help raise you is not that common in todays society. This football player was very fortunate to still have his father.having a father that was strict helped him become a man and move fordward to being a role model and a wonderful player.

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