Following a successful high school basketball career, the 6-foot-7-inch native of Toronto was shocked to not earn a Division 1 college offer. Undeterred, he spent two years at two junior colleges in Texas – Kilgore College and Howard College – to improve his game. Despite having his sophomore season shortened to just 11 games due to injury, Mike impressed the coaches at the Academy of Art University and transferred to the Division 2 school for the 2020-21 season.
Just minutes into his first game with ART U, on January 22, 2021, he slipped on a fastbreak layup, tearing the patella tendon in his left knee on the takeoff for a dunk and landing awkwardly, breaking his left arm. In fact, according to his doctors, the injury was millimeters away from an artery that could have caused him to lose complete functionality in his arm. In the blink of an eye, Mike went from living his dream to a daunting two months of bedrest and a grueling 11-month recovery process to heal both his knee and arm, with no guarantee that he would be able to return to form and the court.
“My year of rehabilitation was truly a journey of self-reflection that tested my faith, self-confidence, and love of basketball,” admitted Mike. “Learning to walk again and develop functionality in my arm was the lowest point of my life and the first time I questioned my basketball future. Now, every time I get on the court, I consider it a gift and am driven to perform my best.”
Remarkably, Mike was back on the court on December 11, 2021, and quickly regained his form. He earned a rotation spot, averaging 10.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 25 minutes a game. In March 2022, he helped lead ART U to its first PacWest Conference tournament title, a 20-12 record, and a berth in the NCAA Division 2 Tournament. In the conference tourney, Mike was at his best, averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds in the three games to earn tournament MVP honors.
For the current 2022-23 season, Mike has helped lead ART U to a 5-3 record, averaging 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds. Set to graduate with his Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media Technologies this December, Mike will begin a master’s program next semester. He hopes to pursue a professional basketball career after college or work in the field of social media.
“CalHOPE is honored to recognize student-athletes throughout the state who, despite setbacks, have overcome life’s challenges to continue to perform their best as both scholars and athletes. CalHOPE’s purpose is to build community resiliency and help people recover through free outreach, crisis counseling, and support services. We hope that by sharing these stories that student-athletes have experienced, we will all be inspired.”
Dr. Jim Kooler, Special Consultant for DHCS