I had planned to write this earlier in February, but the demands of school and football didn't allow me to do so. Today, as we approach the end of Black History Month 2022, I couldn't let the moment pass without honoring one of my heroes. Guys my age idolize many people; pro athletes, entertainers, heads of state, and even Tik Tok or Instagram stars. For me, I was blessed to know a great Black History pioneer, my great-grandfather, Robert Mickey. He was born in 1928 in California, and he attended Thomas Jefferson High School. He ultimately joined the Los Angeles County Road Department in 1955 and 13 years later, he was promoted to Road Maintenance Superintendent. He literally paved the way for millions of people for 31 years, before retiring in 1988. He was an avid golfer and a jazz aficionado.
Some may think that his life was ordinary. To me, I consider him a hero because he was a family man who loved being a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. "Pop" was the very definition of manhood. He was a provider and protector of his family. He taught us all the value of hard work, rising up early to start your day, and to commit your life to family and to honor the Mickey name. When it was time for him to go into hospice care, he asked to spend his last days with my great-grandmother who was suffering from advanced stage Alzheimer's and residing in a memory care facility. She held his hand the day he was admitted. And when she was asked who he was, she knew, and she said, "My husband." He loved his family and worked his entire life to ensure that we all had everything that we needed.
In a time when my career as a football player and scholar is being recognized and celebrated, I stay humble. I know that the greatest success that I will have will be based on the values that my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father hold dear, faith, family, and a commitment to excellence. So today, I honor the Mickey men. They are Black History heroes! Though their names don't appear in history books, their legacy has changed the world and now continues in the hallowed halls of Notre Dame. Through my studies in the classroom, and proficiency on the field, I will continue to honor the Mickey name. Thank you, Pop for setting the bar and providing me the tools necessary to reach new heights and pave new roads for those that come behind me.