Michael Wyche (Photo: Antowyne Shaw/recruit757)
Former Oscar Smith star Michael Wyche talks about his growth from high school on, and his decision to serve others
by Andy Hilton, recruit757
I had a great sit down with Michael Wyche earlier this month. The conversation comes very easily.
Mike is back in the 757 after a college career that saw him finishing at the University of Miami (FL) and receiving his bachelor’s degree. He had a stint with the Green Bay Packers before deciding to take a different path.
After leaving the NFL, Wyche hit the road as a motivational speaker. He’s still out there motivating others, but now he calls Chesapeake home again.
Mike enjoyed reminiscing about his high school days at Oscar Smith. As a freshman, he was part of a loaded Tigers team, led by quarterback Phillip Sims, who won the first football state championship for the school back in 2008.
“We were like the Miami (Hurricanes) of high school,” Mike said. “Those days were amazing. It also set us up for life after football. Coach Morgan was the coach, but he also told us about life. That’s why a lot of our guys whose football careers have ended have been able to go out and get jobs and excel in the world. We were already prepared.”
The path for Michael Wyche was easy. He struggled with a learning disability. His grades weren’t good. Mike received tutoring, but he didn’t always stay out of trouble.
“I was borderline illiterate. I had a fourth grade reading level (in high school). I got motivation from a lot of people,” Wyche explained. “Greg Boone, Tommy Lawrence, all those guys, and Jakari Taylor, who is a great motivational speaker now. He’s a pastor. But, he wasn’t always that. He was a guy in the neighborhood. He was in the streets like a lot of us. When I signed up to Oscar Smith and got my classes, I found out he was a T.A. there. I didn’t even know he was into education.”
Taking education to the streets and bringing the streets to education is part of bridging the gap for young men. Individuals like Jakari Taylor can make an investment in young people and have them see the value of planning for a future.
“He increased my vocabulary. I think he saw that I wasn’t there academically, reading-wise and all that. He started giving me papers and words to help me out and to mold me. My vocabulary increased to the point that my grades started to come up. I saw improvement. I started making honor roll,” Michael exclaimed. Mentors started to intervene. Wyche continued, “I started making changes for the better. I was still in the street life a lot along with playing football. You know how all these camps cost (money). A lot of things cost in football. The street life… to get money was to sell drugs. So I’m selling drugs and playing football at the same time.”
It became a situation where Wyche needed to leave the area after graduating from Oscar Smith. He found a junior college opportunity in California, but fell into more issues there.
The story is straight out of Last Chance U.
“We were living in a two-bedroom apartment. There were 11 (people) in there with one bathroom. We were all in there trying to make a dream become reality,” Wyche said. “Before I got there, I was sleeping in the locker room. Coach found me an apartment. That’s how crazy it was out there. I felt like, if you can go through this, you can go through anything.”
Mike shared plenty of other stories of loss and struggle. He also shared tales of humility with success.
“The struggle prepared me to be humble,” said Wyche. “I got my degree and I became the first one to graduate college in my family. I became the first of my family to go to college.”
The interview is a gold mine of information and inspiration. Michael shares stories from his Oscar Smith experiences and his days at the University of Miami. He tells the story of making the cut at Green Bay and walking away from an NFL career.
“I was getting ready to hit the practice field (at Green Bay) and my sister was Facetiming me,” he said. “I see tears in her eyes. She was calling me to inform me that my nephew Jhevontae (Davis), he was an Oscar Smith Tiger, was killed. Jay was like my son, like my son that I never had.”
Wyche realized then that his life needed to take another turn. Dennis Schulze, a paraplegic, visited Lambeau Field that day and Michael got to show him around. The experience was life changing. Schulze managed to get out of his wheelchair and stand on the field that day.
“Something else is calling me,” Wyche told his grandparents after the experience. “I told them, I’m not sure what it is, but I’m going to pray on it. So I prayed on it.”
Wyche quit football that day. His heart was taking him into public speaking and sharing his story. Now Michael spends his days inspiring others.
Michael closed out the interview with this message for people who need to hear it.
“Pain is real, but so is hope. No matter what you’re going through; you might have lost your mom. Your father might be doing 40 years in prison. You might feel like giving up in life. You might feel like committing suicide. Know that pain is real but so is hope. I’m here to help. Stay focused. Stay motivated and never fold under mental pressure. Always keep going. We get better under mental pressure. Yes, Lord.”
– Andy Hilton