One September day in eighth grade, when he was walking home from school, Mike saw his maternal grandfather, Charlie Wesson, pull up beside him in a car. Wesson had always been there for Mike, attending his games, winking when he faked a fever in grade school so they could spend the day together. This time, the news was bad. He needed to go home, immediately.
Young Mike saw a crowded house and knew something was wrong. His father had died of a heart attack after hip surgery. A short and difficult life was over, at 43, but the son thought largely about his mother. His parents were not married anymore, but he knew her life would change, too.
“I just felt like I had to pick myself up and my mom up,” he said. “It was a very tough time for her. I felt like I was trying to take control of my life and not rely on other people to do things for me.”