Through perseverance and determination, we all can become successful. Or at least that’s what we’re taught. As Americans, we’re told that we can achieve anything that we set our minds to as long as we work hard and stay focused. Well, that’s exactly what Michael Thomas, a defensive back for the Miami Dolphins, did. Though he’s still in the early stages of his career he’s already fought through many obstacles and came too far to turn back now.
Usually, when people think about the beginning of a football player’s career, they assume that individual went to college and was drafted straight into the NFL. And these people would normally be correct since that’s typically the way a professional football player’s career would begin. However, Michael is anything but a typical football player. After playing football for Stanford University, he graduated undrafted.
Instead of giving up and searching for a regular job, he pushed through. Eventually, he was invited to join the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent. Throughout his first year with the 49ers, Michael was determined to prove that he was three times as good as the guys who were drafted. That same year, the team went to the Super Bowl where they went head-to-head with the New England Patriots. Though they lost, how many professional football players can boast that they’ve played in the Super Bowl?
Unfortunately, Michael was cut during his second year with the team at training camp. However, one day he received a surprising phone call from the Miami Dolphins asking him to join their team. The same week he arrived in Miami, he was thrown into his first game by circumstance and made two impressive plays for the team. Currently, he remains on the team as a restricted free agent and must still work his butt off to one day receive a full contract.
Michael’s spirit and positive attitude towards adversity are things that he not only carries on the field but throughout life in general. When he removes his shoulder pads and takes off his cleats, he’s very active in the community. He always vowed that he wanted to give back and be a blessing to others. Michael kept his promise by volunteering his time in Florida and his hometown of Houston.
He’s very proud to be a part of First Step, a program in Florida that encourages interaction between youths and authorities. Once a week kids come together with law enforcement, firefighters, teachers, and other authoritative members of the community. The adults clean the community park, feed the children, play with them, and help out with their academic responsibilities.
It’s important that the gathering spot is a park that was formerly known for drugs and crime. Demonstrating that change can happen within a community if its members take responsibility and fight for things to be better. Through the program, trusting relationships are formed between the community and the people who are supposed to serve it. First Step is planning on expanding its program to other cities across the nation, especially since it’s proven to decrease crime rates.
Michael also runs a youth camp back in Houston where he grew up. The camp incorporates football, academics, and life skills. One of Michael’s initiatives is to teach computer science to children. Which is so important since computer programmers are in high demand and make a more than a decent salary. Though, the presence of African Americans and women within computer science has increased significantly over the last 10 years. The field is still dominated by Caucasian males and foreign minorities who maintain high positions and extremely generous salaries. Who would’ve thought that a jock would provide a solution to problems that occur in the world of tech?
Michael’s efforts off the field have allowed him to receive The Presidential Service Award for all of his community service efforts. Besides his community service work, he uses his spare time to pursue his passion for film and television. Growing up watching shows on the Disney Channel like The Famous Jett Jackson and Smart Guy, allowed Michael to dream of show business before he ever knew that professional football was an option.
He’s since reached out to people in the entertainment industry to learn how to bring his ideas to light. During offseason, Michael was able to intern on the set of HBO’s Ballers. The executive producer, Stephen Levinson, allowed him to come on set and enter the writer’s room. Michael was even able to pitch some of his ideas to Stephen who seemed very receptive. Regardless of his football schedule, he plans to continue learning about the process of producing and writing television shows.
As a captain of the Miami Dolphins, Michael’s leadership skills are shown in his ability to be a positive example. By being a determined athlete he demonstrates that hard work eventually pays off. As a teammate, he displays loyalty and .support for those around him. Most importantly, Michael is an active member of the community, giving more than he ever takes. And leaving what he’s found in a better state for the next person. If this is what he does when he’s just getting started, who knows that extraordinary benevolence will spawn from his triumphs.