Mike Taylor – Building Community

Mike Taylor with the LA Clippers

Life With Lukas By Lukas Witt | 11 years old

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be the first person to do or accomplish something no one else ever had? Mike Taylor born January 21, 1986 in Chicago, IL and moved to Milwaukee, WI at age 3 is just that guy. Mike Taylor attended Marshall High School in Milwaukee, WI where he recently had his jersey retired, he was not highly recruited from high school, he attended Chipola Junior College (2004-2006) in Florida before transferring to Iowa State (2006-2007). This is where things get interesting, during the 2007-2008 season Taylor played for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA D-League in 2008 winning a championship. Mike Taylor became the first player in NBA history to be drafted to the NBA from the D-League where he was selected 55th overall to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Taylor has played basketball all over the world and landed him self a spot in Ice Cube’s famous Big 3 Basketball League, where we met. As he enters his 2nd season and Co-Captain of the Ghost Ballers I talked to him and got his take on lots of topics, check out our Q&A below.

Me: Who was your favorite basketball player growing up?

Mike: Growing up my favorite basketball player was Isaiah Thomas of the original bad boy Detroit Pistons. I started watching basketball when I was 4-5 years old and this was when he had won his second championship. I was I small guy and I just loved how hard he played and the way he controlled the ball, never backed down from anyone. Later on in the 90’s Michael Jordan of course, but I have to say more so it was Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant, and the 1996 that draft class with Ray Allen from the Milwaukee Bucks. I was an extreme fan of the game from young age always and two of my local favorite basketball players were Greg Brown and JR Morris, I watched them all of my elementary, middle school years growing up and OMG, they where like Jordan and Pippen to me!! I saw them score the ball like no other and that made me want to just get buckets like watching a karate movie growing up and right after you try all the moves you saw. LOL. 

Me: Who has been the most inspirational person in your life and why?

Mike: My mother is the most inspirational person in my life because at a very earlier age she catered to my imagination and dreams and challenged me to learn something to better myself daily. Still to this day it’s so inspiring the encouragement and for the young Mike T, I watched my mom work hard everyday 2-3 jobs to provide for my sister and 2 younger bro’s, she was the crossing guard in our neighborhood and work two regular jobs just that eagerness to get up every day no matter what was instilled in me very early.

Me: What are you most excited for this year in the Big 3?

Mike: It’s a few things I’m excited about, First, I’m excited to be a Co-Captain of the Ghost Ballers. Second, I love the YOUNG 3 and the staff that’s around that, that was truly a highlight for me last season. And this year having all the games on one day is going to be exciting!! Just competition I love that part of the game, the fire ball foul challenge will be very exciting I believe.

Me: What advice do you have for your 20 year old self?

Mike: Wow, knowing what I know now! I struggled with death at around the age 20, a lot of my friends passed and I took it very hard. Mental healthcare wasn’t known like it is now. I really battled and suffered with that, so if I had advice, I would say death is a natural part of life. You should talk to someone let them know what your real life is like not just the basketball side they see from the outside. Believe in yourself, you got to stop looking for it, all the help u need is within. 

Me: How does it feel to have had your jersey retirement?

Mike: Having my basketball jersey retired feels amazing, an outta body experience still. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and sacrifice of my happiness to give to the game and in my area of Milwaukee. Around my era there was no one that I knew of that did it like me!! I was the least talked about maybe like 5-6 guys were better then me but none of them outworked me, plus to think 15 years later I’ve got honored for the work I did in 2004 it means a lot to be inspiration to the kids after me!! 

Taylor Made Foundation

Me: What made you get so involved in community outreach and what do you hope to accomplish?

Mike: I’ve always been involved in my community even as a shorty, my mom made it mandatory. We gave back from feeding the less fortunate, reading to the elderly, toy drives, cause it was right next door to us sometimes knocking on our front door. It wasn’t something we could hide from, where I’m from as I got older and could do more I did just that. When I was in the NBA 2008-2010 I gave the boys and girls basketball team New Jersey’s warm-ups, shoes and all but I never wanted to be recognized for things that just came from the heart. We are living in different time now and a lot of people do things just to be recognized for it, that was never my intention and never will be. I do this because I was once one of these lil boys looking, searching, praying, hoping, hooping for away out of poverty. 

I set out to accomplish and make it popular for the athlete that’s able to make it out of the environment they were raised in and became successful. To come back and be that inspiration to their peers, adults, but must importantly the child, the youth who’s not as good with the ball like we were. To that lost child that’s got their hand gun finger on the trigger or his hand behind the wheel of a stolen car. To uplift the community and the space around us to be the example and staple to bridge the gaps of our generation from generations before. Be like if MIKE TAYLOR can do it and make it from the same streets I can too!!! We can change the conditions if we all come together but it takes a team and basketball exemplified that for me.

Me: What do you want your legacy to be?

Mike: I want my legacy to be a true reflection of my nature, who I truly am within not about what I’ve been able to accomplish. Even though I’ve been able to accomplish great things it’s been above what’s within more then what the ideal of what success looks like yet. Also, the relentless pursuit, grind and growth on my journey and how I handled adversity at a high level becoming better and better every single day!! 

Me: Anything else you want to share?

Mike: MIKE TAYLOR DAY was ofically AUGUST 4th last year in the city of Milwaukee this is the day the Big 3 came to Milwaukee’s Fisver Forum. We had our inaugural 4ONE4ALL COME UNITY EVENT in the hood!! On Burleigh in the 53206 zip code which is one of the worst areas for a black person to live in the country!! Also, we put together and WINTER COAT and SHOE ASSIST in October and November of 2019 and January 2020 where we gave over 500 new TAYLORMADE coats and over 300 new and slightly used shoes, boots, hats, gloves, and scarf all through tout the city of Milwaukee!! 

I have a lot of things coming this summer 2020 with The TAYLORMADE Foundation I am having a summer life skills academy we put together for the inner city youth of Milwaukee at my high school John Marshall in June!! We still need help with funding this event. I plan to have it free for the youth ages 5-17 and need donations, sponsorships, partnerships for anyone willing to be apart and assist can contact us taylormadefoundation414.org 

Mike: I thank you Lukas for always reaching out to me lil bro I respect yo hussle! DON’T WISH FOR IT WORK FOR IT 

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edits done by Tonia Witt.

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