Michael Strahan Shares How His HBCU Experience Helped Shape His Career (Exclusive)

'I'm so happy I went to an HBCU,' the 'GMA' co-host tells ET. 'It was the perfect fit for me.'

Michael Strahan is grateful for his HBCU experience. ET's Kevin Frazier caught up with the Good Morning America co-host in honor of Black History Month, and he had nothing but praise for his alma mater, Texas Southern University, where he played football before graduating in 1993 and beginning his pro career.

"Texas Southern, it gave me the life I have now. Without Texas Southern, I am not here, I'm not talking to you," Strahan says. "What I loved about it, is it was a school that fit me, my personality. It was the right size. It was the right environment. It fostered me. It had the perfect type of coaching and teachers and students that I needed. It took me from being a boy, it made me a man. It taught me a lot of responsibility that I needed."

"On top of that, I was not overwhelmed. I was supported every day on that campus. I look back and I think, 'How blessed was I to go to an HBCU and sit on that campus every day?'" he continues. "I wish I would have enjoyed it a little bit more than I did when I was there. It is such a different environment than most people ever experience, but it was definitely perfect for me."

Being at an HBCU, Strahan says, gave him a feeling of "togetherness, of unity, of belonging." 

"I think when people think HBCUs they just think, 'Oh, it's a bunch of Black people running around campus.' Yes, there are a lot of Black people there, but every race exists, everyone's included. You don't feel as if you don't belong," he says. "That's the thing that I think HBCUs taught me, inclusion. It taught me that hey, it may be an HBCU, but it's for every single person out there to attend."

"... Everything that you could imagine is there. Every program you want is there. The classes are there, the education is there, the sports are there... our band was off the chain," he continues. "... There's so much culture. There's so much energy. There's so much love at HBCUs... I'm so happy I went to an HBCU. It was the perfect fit for me."

On top of teaching him about himself and the world around him, Strahan's alma mater gave him "an incredible education," a trait that's common among all HBCUs, which have educated people such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Oprah Winfrey, Taraji P. Henson, Samuel L. Jackson and more.

"There are people more talented than me in every single way that go to HBCUs back then and even right now," Strahan says. "... I love hearing the stories about Kamala Harris and where she came from... She had a dream... and she achieved it, and we all can look at that and be proud." 

"I am just so proud to represent the community, too," he continues. "... I am standing on the shoulders of so many other people who continue to hold me up... The responsibility to me is not so much to wake up and do a great job and you do all these things, but the legacy that you leave is the most important thing."

Strahan hopes that his story can help "kids and students and people to understand that you can be anything you want to be from wherever you are in your life."

"If it's at HBCU, then enjoy that experience, because that experience is not gonna hold you back from being whatever you wanna be," he says. "Now you can say it's not gonna hold you back from being vice president or one day president."

Strahan's post-college accomplishments include a 15-year NFL career, which culminated with his nomination to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as a successful broadcasting run, with gigs at Live With Kelly and MichaelGMA, and Fox NFL Sunday. Whatever he worked to accomplish, Strahan said he simply tried to "be the best," a drive he credits largely to his HBCU experience.

"When it comes to daytime television, when it comes to the news, it is intimidating, it is scary at times because these are things that I didn't necessarily go to school for," he says. "These are things that I wasn't necessarily groomed to do... I've learned to adapt. I learned to adapt at TSU... I try to be the best that I can be, so I can be an example for those who are falling behind."

After Strahan initially found his GMA responsibilities to be "the scariest, most intimidating, hardest thing I've ever done in television," he's proud of how his career has progressed.

"It's not something that is natural in a lot of ways... I had to learn it's not my job to necessarily be the personality. It's not my job to take it wherever you want to take it... Most of all I have to listen," he says. "It took me a while to learn that, but now to be given that responsibility... I don't take it lightly."

While Strahan's older children -- Tanita, 29, and Michael, 26 -- didn't follow his footsteps to an HBCU, the opportunity is there for his 16-year-old twins, Isabella and Sophia, to do so.

"They have not figured that out yet, but I will support them in whatever they want to do. Trust me, I am going to suggest going to the HBCUs, but I want them to get the best opportunity and education possible," he says. "They know they can always go to Texas Southern because Daddy's got a little pull over there."

No matter where they go, Strahan knows what lesson from HBCUs he wants to pass on to his kids.

"I don't want them to think where we live is the only place on Earth, the only community in which we grow up and stay," he says. "I want them to understand the world is a big place. The world has a lot of different textures to it and I want them to understand as many of those textures as possible, because it's only going to make your life better wherever you are."

Tune in to Wednesday's episode of Entertainment Tonight for more of Kevin Frazier's interview with Strahan.

For the latest content celebrating Black History Month, please visit our Black History Month page, or read more in our Black Stories section. And don’t miss our Black History Month special on ET Live



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