Although nearly two years have passed since NFL quarterback Michael Vick was released from prison, he’s only now declaring himself free.
Writing about his personal story of redemption, the former Atlanta Falcons player is set to release his autobiography titled Michael Vick: Finally Free in July.
“‘Finally Free’ tells an amazing story,” Tony Dungy, former NFL coach and mentor to Vick, penned in the foreword. “It’s not pretty, but it’s real. If you’re like me – if you’ve ever done something in your life you wish you could take back, it will encourage you to learn that we serve a God of second chances and live in a country of second chances.”
Chronicling his “rags-to-riches to rags-to-redemption” story, the now 30-year-old athlete recollects his early memories growing up in a poor neighborhood, his high school and college success on the field, and his rise to the NFL – all before his fall from grace in 2007, when he was convicted for his involvement in illegal dogfighting.
Sentenced to 19 months in federal prison, Vick plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy and involvement in the killing of at least six dogs by hanging or drowning.
His book reveals never-before-told details about his conviction and his subsequent imprisonment, and speaks also about his newly found faith, which he discovered during his difficulties.
A spokesman for The Core Media Group, the publisher of his book, said of the quarterback, “He knew some parts of his book would show his life at rock bottom, but he wanted to share his story to help others, both youths and adults.”
“Michael also wanted to take the chance to apologize, once again, for getting involved in fighting dogs and explain how his relationship with God was renewed during his time behind bars.”
In a previous public apology, Vick stated, “Through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God.”
Though many have criticized the NFL star for false belief, accusing him for only using the name of Jesus to gain public sympathy, supporters like Dungy have testified to his turnaround.
Vick himself wrote in his autobiography, “When the dogfighting allegation surfaced, my lawyer told me, ‘If you were involved, you need to tell me you were involved.’ That’s when it was on the state rather than the federal level. I kept telling him, ‘No, no, I wasn’t involved, no, no.’”
“The whole time they were building the case, my lawyer was saying ‘no’ but he was seeing all this evidence saying ‘yes.’ If I had just told the truth, maybe I would’ve received a smack on the wrist instead of a lengthy sentence.”
“Now that I think about it, I believe it was the Lord,” he reflected. “It was God saying, ‘Kid, I gave you a chance to get this thing right.’ It was like ‘Carry your *** to jail.’ I know he didn’t say it like that, but it was like, ‘Go on. You need to do some time. You need to learn a lesson.’”
“[God] gave me a chance. He gave me three months – April through July – to go to all these people and say, ‘Look, I was wrong,’ and to get the correct advice, and to use it correctly. But I didn’t do it.”
Looking back now, as Vick sees that his past decisions were rooted in immaturity and selfishness, he hopes to inspire the youth to make better choices.
“There’s going to be people out there who are going to be involved in wrongdoing,” he shared in a promotional video. “Think about the consequences ... think about the people who you’re going to affect.”
“I couldn’t stop my kids from crying, couldn’t stop my fiancé from crying, my mom.”
“I’ve done a lot of sinning in my life, and I’m no saint, and no different from anybody else, [but] as I ask for forgiveness, I continue to receive blessings.”
The first blessing? A second chance.
After completing his sentence, Vick was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. Setting career highs last season in passer rating, passing yards, and touchdown passes, he was chosen the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Labeled as one of their most valuable players last year, the Eagles placed their franchise tag on Vick, ensuring their continuing relationship. He signed on for a one-year tender in March.
Flourishing not only in his career, Vick also works alongside The Humane Society of the United States, speaking as an ambassador against street dogfighting. He also pledged to make a long-term commitment to participate in the society’s community-based outreach programs to steer inner-city youth away from dogfighting.
“It’s important to [Vick] that other young men don’t make the same mistakes he made,” Dungy stated.
“The story is not complete, by any means, but this book will let you know why I’m so proud of Michael Vick and honored to call him a friend – because he has made the later chapters of his life better than the earlier ones,” his mentor expressed in the foreword.
“And isn’t that what life is all about?”
Set to be released July 27th, Michael Vick: Finally Free was co-authored by Charles Chandler, an award-winning reporter and former Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee member, and Brett Honeycutt, managing editor of Sports Spectrum. Both are veteran writers with The Charlotte Observer.
The MichaelVickStory.com website is open for pre-orders, including a limited edition hardback, individually hand signed by Vick.