Michael Irvin, known as “the Playmaker,” was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is the 15th of 17 children born to Pearl and Walter Irvin. During his high school career, Irvin’s father would fall gravely ill, enlisting Michael to always take care of his mother. The wide receiver would get the opportunity to use football as a vehicle to do just that by earning a full scholarship to the University of Miami Florida. In 1987, Irvin would lift the Hurricanes to a National Championship. He would go on to be selected 11th overall to the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 1988 Nation Football League (NFL) Draft. Irvin was a dominant force on the field, becoming a part of “the Triplets” alongside Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. They would build the Cowboys into a dynasty during his career, winning three Super Bowls. He would spend his entire 12 seasons with the Cowboys before retiring with 750 receptions, 11,904 receiving yards, and 65 receiving touchdowns. For his electrifying performance, Irvin was voted to the Pro Bowl five times during his career which earned him a spot in the Cowboy’s Ring of Honor. In 2007, Irvin would also be voted into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame where his career would come full circle.
Irvin continues to use football as a vehicle to start his next chapter as a sports analyst. His charismatic, animated personality is made for television. ESPN would give him the opportunity to keep shining on the show Sunday NFL Countdown, which would earn him an Emmy Award in 2006. His brash, outspoken commentary also paved his way to Hollywood, having been featured in movies such as ‘The Longest Yard’ and ‘Slamma Jamma’. Wanting to give back, Irvin started the “Playmakers Academy,” helping youth learn the valuable lesson of how to play the game of life. “The thing that gave me an edge was my work ethic. I was one of those guys who felt, the more you worked, the better you got. It was a confidence thing I enjoy working.” — Irvin