Archive for the ‘Michael Strahan’ Category
Don’t look now, but Michael Strahan’s most famous feature is about to get a little alteration. While the 6-foot-5 star poses for a few solo shots during Parade’s photo shoot, his 9-year-oldSophia can’t resist poking fun at her father’s gap-toothed smile. As the images appear on a monitor, she holds her finger up to the screen and mischievously covers the empty space. “That’s better,” she says with a giggle.
Not to Strahan fans. The former NFL star now wakes up millions with his trademark grin and big-kid playfulness in his roles as cohost of Live With Kelly and Michael and special cohost of Good Morning America. And it’s clear that his kids have inherited their dad’s goofy side, which is sure to be front and center on July 17 when he hosts Nickelodeon’s inaugural Kids’ Choice Sports awards. On this sunny Saturday in L.A., Sophia and her fraternal twin sister, Isabella, Strahan’swith ex-wife Jean Muggli, break out the dance moves by the pool and later team up with their 19-year-old half-brother Michael Jr., a psychology major at University of Texas at San Antonio, to tease Strahan, 42, about being a not-so-strict dad. “There are rules!” protests Strahan, who’s engaged to Hollywood Exes star Nicole Murphy. “You have to make your beds.” (Unfortunately, Tanita, 22—she and Michael Jr. are Strahan’s from his first marriage, to Wanda Hutchins—couldn’t weigh in; a new job in Houston prevented her from taking part in this father-and-kids-reunion.)
With Kelly Ripa on their hit syndicated show, “Live With Kelly and Michael” (David E. Steele/Disney ABC)
It’s also clear that the children possess a competitive streak like their dad, who spent much of his youth in Germany—where his father, an army major, was stationed—before his remarkable 15-year career as a defensive end for the New York Giants. (Strahan retired in 2008 after winning a hard-fought Super Bowl title; now an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday, he’ll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.) Ask Michael Jr. for a favorite memory of his pop and he offers: “I was 11 and the Wii had just come out. We were playing tennis, and I beat him!”
Isabella heads for a nearby basketball hoop and proposes a wager: If she makes five baskets in a row, Dad pays up. Strahan, clearly believing his money is safe, agrees—then watches, stunned and proud, as she sinks every single shot.
PARADE: It looks like you’re out some cash.
Michael Strahan: Apparently she’s been practicing! I’ve seen her play—I’ve seen both of [the girls] play on their teams and they’re good—but there’s no way I thought she’d make five shots in a row! Now Sophia’s gonna want to make a deal where she makes five in a row.
In 2013 with Michael Jr., Tanita, and their half-brother Dorian, 13, whom Strahan says is “like my son, too.” (Courtesy of Michael Strahan)
It must be nice to have so many of the kids here today. How often does everybody get together?
It’s rare, especially as Michael and Tanita get older. But the thing I love is [that] when there’s an opportunity, they’re all for it. Tanita just got a new job, so unfortunately she couldn’t take the time off to come. But it’s never, “I want to hang out with my friends and go to the movies.” My parents included us in everything, and I try to do the same with my kids.
Your son told me he’s not really interested in football. Does that surprise you?
Not really. It was never my thing to say, “I played, so you gotta,” because I felt it put more pressure on him than he needed. He played [for two years] in and was a good player, but when I saw he wasn’t having fun, I was like, “You don’t have to do it. I played enough for all of us. But you’ve got to find something you enjoy and do your best at it.” Everybody’s got a different path.
Have you worried about how your success might affect your kids?
When you’re visible, you do wonder how your kids will handle it. But they don’t play off that. With college kids, it’s usually, “I need this, I need that,” but with Tanita and Michael, I’m the one who’s like, “Do you need anything?” They’re the lowest-maintenance kids. They want to make their own way, which I love. When Tanita graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, I said, “I got some job interviews set up for you in New York. I’m pretty sure if you go in there and present yourself well, you’ll get a job.” And she said, “You know what, Dad? I’m not ready for New York.” I know it took a lot for her to tell me that. At first I was like, “Are you crazy?” But if she felt she needed to start in a smaller market and work her way up on her own, then great.
With his father, Gene, in 2007 (Courtesy of Michael Strahan)
What’s your relationship like with your dad, Gene?
Amazing. My father is the most influential person in my career in [terms of] attitude—the understanding that nobody gives you anything in life, you have to earn it. My dad wanted to be an army officer, and to do that he needed to go to college. He had five kids and I was on the way, but he took a chance on himself. He graduated magna cum laude at 30-some years old and [became] an officer. So you can’t tell him what you “can’t” do. His whole thing was, “I don’t want to hear about the problem, I want to see the solution.” There’s always a solution.
Do you look at your work that way?
I love solving problems. It makes me happy to juggle all the jobs I do—figuring out which team is supposed to win on Fox NFL Sunday; reacting off the cuff to Kelly [Ripa, on Live]; and now GMA, trying to fit into that group. The great thing coming from sports is you understand the concept of a team. It leaves no room for being selfish, and that’s something I picked up from home.
Your dad sent you at age 17 from Germany to Houston to stay with your uncle Art, a former NFL player, giving you the opportunity to play
I was scared to death. Did I necessarily want to do it? No. Was I in a totally different environment with no friends? Yes. Was that hard because I was shy? Absolutely. But I thought, “He knows what he’s talking about. He’s my dad.” So I sucked it up. And when I did play in college, I was on a mission: I’m going to be the best at it. Everything I do professionally, I have that mentality about.
How did his parenting influence how you raise your own kids?
My dad was always about when you’re going to do something, not if. I believe in my kids 100 percent. When you have confidence in them, they have confidence in themselves.
At the 2008 Super Bowl (Paul Spinelli/AP Images)
When you were contemplating retiring from the NFL, did you discuss it with your dad?
Without knowing it, my dad helped me. I wrote a book [in 2007], Inside the Helmet, with one of my best friends, Jay Glazer. There’s a part where we talk about the toll the NFL takes on your body. Your back, hips, knees, shoulders, and neck don’t work like they used to, but you have to figure out a way around it. After we won the Super Bowl in 2008, I debated, do I play another year? I was talking to my dad, not even really about that, and he brought up that he’d read the book. And it was like at the end of the movie Babe, where the guy tells Babe, “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” My dad was like, “There’s no need to do that anymore.” When he said that, I didn’t have to prove anymore that I could do what he sent me to do all those years ago. That’s when I realized I was done. I see guys cry when they retire, but I was smiling because I’d left everything I could out there and I’d made the people close to me proud.
You’re an inspiration to a new generation of players, including Michael Sam, who recently became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL. Have you talked to him since?
Yeah, I texted him congratulations. I feel bad for him in the sense that he has a lot of pressure and people looking for him to represent something. Right now, he just needs to represent himself and his family and be the best player he can be. Plain and simple. He’s a football player first and foremost.
Was this a big step for the NFL?
Well, it’s a big step as far as people just being who they are. There have been gay players since the NFL started—not open in the public sense, but open in the locker room. Now you’ve got players who say the locker room’s going to be uncomfortable and blah blah blah; I tweeted one back the other day saying, “You and I both know we’ve played with gay guys before, they just weren’t out. Let this kid live.”
It’s one thing for a former pro athlete to get into sports broadcasting, but it’s unusual to become a morning show star. Why do you think you were able to cross over so successfully?
Because I don’t think about failing. If I look back now, I go, “You could’ve been the guy who killed the show Regis built!” But at the time I just looked at it like, “This is what I want to do.” And if people see you genuinely having fun and being yourself, especially on a morning show, they connect to it. I’m not perfect; I’ve never professed to be and I don’t want to be. How much fun is that? I’m the guy who looked at [NFL] players and said, “I can do that.” And I’m sure there’s some kid out there looking at me, going, “Man, he’s got the gap in his teeth, he talks with a lisp, and he’s probably spitting over the entire crowd. But if he can do it, I can.”
(Peggy Sirota for Parade; Wardrobe styling, Victoria Trilling; Hair, Hee Soo Kwon for The Rex Agency using Bumble & Bumble; Makeup, Lisa Ashley from Lisa Ashley Beauty (Michael and Michael, Jr.); Jeannia Robinette for Tracey Mattingly (Isabella and Sophia); Strahan: Jeans, Five Four; Shoes, Creative Recreation)
What do you enjoy most about being a dad?
I love being the person my kids depend on to learn. Everything they learn for the most part comes from you—how they treat people, how they look at the world, how they process things. I love being that example for them, just like my parents were for me.
What drives you now?
I don’t do it for fame. If you’re doing anything for fame, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. I do what I do because I love entertaining. I love being good at something. And I love making my family proud. If you have enjoyment for what you do and a sincere purpose behind it, you can do it forever.
Posted by Greg Sanders PMA INTL Man UP For Moms