Bad Boy Athletes Help Students Pay for School: Michael Vick
Michael Vick gives a commencement speech and awards two $5,000 scholarships. Photo courtesy of thecotilliononline.com.
By Leah Westfall
June 15, 2011
Just three years ago Michael Vick was being released from federal prison after serving 19 months out of his 23 month sentence, and just four days ago he stood in front of 450 graduates of Camelot high schools to give the commencement speech and surprise two students with $5,000 scholarships.The Camelot School is an alternative high school that caters to at-risk youth with behavioral, academic and emotional problems. Many of Friday’s graduates were involved in gang activity, had been arrested or expelled from other schools. Fittingly, the theme of Vick’s commencement address was about second chances, turning your life around and redemption.
Vick has become the poster child for second chances after he was signed to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles after pleading guilty to involvement and leadership in a dog fighting ring. The ring known as “Bad Newz Kennels” existed on Vick’s Virginia property and according to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Vick played a first hand role in “destroying” dogs that underperformed or refused to fight by drowning them in his pool, a process that took two people to hold the animal’s legs while the dog’s head was held under water, or hanging the dogs from a tree in his yard. Since the incident Vick has attempted to salvage his reputation and teach youth about the negative impact involvement in dog fighting and illegal activity will have on one’s life.
According to footballnewsnow.com Vick was nervous minutes before the commencement address. “I’ve never done this before, I’m not going to lie,” Vick said. “I’m more nervous about this than I am for a football game.”
During the speech Vick challenged students to make thoughtful decisions, make the most of their second chances and pursue their goals reported newsone.com.
“I stand before you today a changed man,” Vick said. “Use me as an example at how to become an instrument of change … you can do it as well.”
Graduates Monique Joseph and Rickey Savage received the $5,000 scholarships from the newly created “Michael Vick Comeback Student of the Year Scholarship”. Both students plan to attend college in the fall, Joseph to Penn State and Savage will go to Virginia Union University. According to the article Savage, said he is grateful to Vick for the financial aid, which will help him study business technology, and for the motivational speech.
A spokesman for Vick said the scholarship recipients were chosen based on academic achievement, attendance and participation in student government. He said Vick plans to give out the $5,000 awards annually.