Mike was born and raised by his parents Steve and Sooky and spent much of his childhood fishing on the St. Lucie River. Mike stood out as a young student and athlete, excelling in football, baseball and soccer, while still maintaining his place on the Honor Roll. In 1990, Mike was elected co-captain of the Martin County High School Football team by his teammates, and led the Tigers to a 9 and 1 record. The team’s recognition of Mike’s leadership was a testament to his strong work ethic and his attitude of getting respect by giving respect. Sports showed Mike’s character and nature to the Community but it did not define him. Mike was an excellent student and after High School was accepted to Columbia but decided to return to the warmer climate of Gainesville and the University of Florida. Mike joined Alpha Tau Omega as well as numerous Honor Societies and Professional Organizations. Mike’s passion for the outdoors continued in Gainesville and he was known for grabbing a friend or Fraternity Brother and running over to Cedar Key to fish or to the East Coast to surf. He was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1995. Despite undergoing extensive chemotherapy he stayed in school and obtained a Masters in Accounting graduating with honors.
Mike died tragically on September 12, 1996 at the age of 23, after a 14 month battle with bone cancer. The disease didn’t define him, even when it slowed him down. He was still fishing and going to the Keys, and comforting his friends as much as they comforted him. Mike recognized that he had lived a wonderful life even if it was cut short and that he had been given many gifts and opportunities that other people do not have.
Project LIFT helps provide those gifts and opportunities to teens in our community and the Michael Shields Memorial Inshore Open exemplifies the motto Mike lived by “Work Hard, Play Hard.”