Baylor Football legend and pro athlete Mike Singletary overcame challenges to pursue his passion and establish a successful career both on and off the field.
By Justin Walker
Mike Singletary, BBA ’83
Founder, President; Changing Our Perspective
Mike Singletary may be one of the most recognizable faces in the history of Baylor Football. After all, his awards speak for themselves: two-time Southwest Conference Player of the Year, 10-time NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl XX champion with the Chicago Bears, just to name a few.
But Singletary’s journey to the top of the NFL was far from a cakewalk. For the first seven years of his life, Singletary was in and out of the hospital with a variety of respiratory issues, including asthma and pneumonia. It impacted his ability to play with his family and friends.
“Finally, I began to heal after that,” he said. “Then I began to run and play with the other kids, but I was a little bit behind.”
Singletary first started playing football with other children around the age of 9. The first time he tackled a kid, he knew it was his sport. His family was Pentecostal, so his parents did not let him participate in Pee Wee leagues or school-sponsored leagues. Finally, after begging his mom for weeks, she let him sign up for the junior high team.
“I was about a week late but went out there and worked at it,” he said. “I got pretty decent at it, and the rest is history.”
As he got into high school and developed his linebacker skills, he knew he wanted to play at the next level. By his senior year, only one Division I school was interested—the Baylor Bears.
While making his presence felt on the field, Singletary was also focusing on his time in the classroom.
“I started out as pre-med and got the crap kicked out of me,” he said. “I had to think about what I really wanted to do, and that was business.”
Singletary met with then-professor Bill Carden, who took to mentoring him as a student. When he was close to graduating and entering the NFL, Carden introduced him to Sparkey Beckham, BBA ’49, who soon became Singletary’s real estate partner.
“As I’m earning paychecks in the league, I’m sending them to Sparkey and he’s investing them into land around Houston, and it worked out really well for both of us,” Singletary said.
After retiring from the league and a few coaching stints, Singletary has his sights set on his foundation, Changing Our Perspective, which focuses on equal opportunity for education.
“We want to make a difference,” Singletary said. “We want to do what we can to help young people—all people—live a life that makes a difference.”