What drives a person can tell you a lot about them.
When the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region IV Hall of Fame announced its 11-member induction Class of 2019, South Suburban College Head Coach John Pigatti wasn’t surprised to read Michael Harris’ name, even though he represents the first HOF basketball player in the storied program’s legacy.
“Mike is one of the best players I have had the privilege of coaching at SSC, on and off the court. His drive to be the best is unmatched.”
Statistically speaking, he’s an all-time great SSC basketball player who was named NJCAA Division II National-Player-of the Year in 2013, after leading the Bulldogs to a combined 65-9 record over two seasons. Beyond the accolades, something else sets Mike apart from the competition.
“What drives me in life is the motivation to achieve everything I aspire to be,” said Harris, 27, a recent graduate from Langston University in Oklahoma. “The fact I have been doubted and counted out throughout my life keeps me going.”
Maybe that motivation stemmed from taking his lumps starting his basketball journey at the age of 7 when he “wasn’t too good.”
Perhaps it’s the chip on the shoulder for what many considered “settling” for his start at community college.
Or maybe it comes from not wanting to let down his teammates—“a great group of guys.”
Or perhaps his internal fire was fanned during a grueling ACL knee reconstruction surgery recovery; or from his desire to pursue those “former offers” overseas; or to one day become a trainer to “help others.”
Ultimately, Michael said he wants to give back to the younger generation through a knowledge and mentality from the game of basketball and how it can be applied in life.
Whenever he experienced detours on his pathway to the HOF, his directions were simple: “I tell people to have confidence and believe in yourself. It’s so important because no one else will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. When you have a positive mindset, positive things will be the outcome.”