CLEVELAND - Whether it’s a divorce, a loss of a job, a death of a family member, we have all had moments where we felt like our world was crumbling. John Carroll All-American safety Michael Hollins said that moment turned out to be the best thing to every happened to him. In August of 2011, Hollin's father passed away.
He said, “It just showed me how a man is supposed to be. How a man is supposed to act, how a man is supposed to carry himself. It is a challenge but the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
Immediately following his father’s death, it appeared as though his football career would be cut short.
“I went to a division II school before I came to John Carroll. When my father passed away I stopped playing ball completely,” he explained. “My father was my biggest influence in football. No matter where the game was no matter who we were playing he was always there.”
He left school to help provide for his family.
“When he died it was a difficult time and I wanted to make sure my family was OK,” he recalled. “I trained a little and coached arts and those guys saw me training and gave me the opportunity.”
Although he dominated at the Division III level, the odds of making it to the NFL are not in his favor.
“Exposure, that is the biggest as far as this is a small school,” he said of the challenges of coming from a Division three program. “You don’t get the highlights or the show that everyone else does but that doesn’t mean that it's not possible.”
As he fights for his future, he has not forgotten about what life was like in the past. Hollins returns to Maple Heights where he grew up to talk to teens about never giving up.
“I’m them. I'm just at a good college. I’m the same guy. I just want them to know if mike can do it. So can they,” he said.
With his father in his mind and in his heart, he works relentlessly.
“It's actually tough now that he is gone but it gives me that internal motivation that I need to keep fighting because he was a fighter,” he said.
For Hollins, success has a bigger purpose than just his own self-interest. He wants to make his father proud. He wants to give children in his community hope. He wants to help provide for his family. Through his achievements, he wants to prove that a moment that seems like a nightmare that won’t end, could actually be the beginning of a dream come true.
Hollins explained, “It’s going to be difficult but if it won’t challenge you it won’t change you.”