Uncle Luke Remembers a Neighborhood Legend
Miami's black community recently lost a great person, a man who touched the lives of a lot of folks from Liberty City to West Perrine. His name is Michael Wright, but anyone familiar with Miami-Dade County football knew him as McAdoo.
He passed away a couple of weeks ago at the Orlando home of NFL superstar Edgerrin James.
Although he was never a politician, McAdoo was black Miami's unofficial mayor. He got his nickname because as a kid, he shot the basketball like NBA great Bob McAdoo, now an assistant coach with the Miami Heat. City and county commissioners counted on McAdoo to quietly get out the vote on Election Day. From every superstar athlete to every rapper to every drug dealer to every gangster knew McAdoo. When he spoke, everyone listened because they knew his love for the black community was genuine.
He lived not too far from Charles Hadley Park, where he would confront the hardest criminals and tell them to leave the kids alone to play. He wasn't the type of activist who would go in front of the city commission and beg for money. All he had to do was pick up the phone and speak to the politicians directly. He did the same with professional athletes he had looked after during their days playing Pop Warner/NYFLA and their time suiting up for the University of Miami Hurricanes.
He practically raised guys like former Northwestern High football all-stars Snoop Minnis and Nate Webster, who went on to become NFL athletes. McAdoo paid for those boys to attend their senior proms and bought dresses for their dates. He also helped other ex-Hurricanes players such as Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, Santana Moss, and Andre Johnson by giving them a little money or food or anything they needed. McAdoo's generosity is a big reason he had no problem persuading James to sponsor a scholarship program for kids playing Pop Warner at three different parks in Miami. Every year, McAdoo and James put together a fun-filled event with rides and kid shows in Immokalee, the former UM running back's hometown. McAdoo would get the buses and take the Miami kids up there himself.
He taught the children about respect and winning with class. He had them singing songs about honoring their mothers and fathers. And when the games were over, he would tell all the boys to love one another - that life wasn't about warring over turf and territory.
But McAdoo also looked out after the kids who didn't make it out of the inner city, as well as the elderly folks in the community. He created an aerobics class for senior citizens and teenagers at Hadley Park that was a huge success. There was a waiting list for people to join.
I remember one time I was walking with him in Liberty City, and McAdoo pointed out the children whose fathers were part of a drug gang whose members were sent to jail. Those kids and their mothers had the biggest smiles on their faces. They were so happy to see McAdoo. He made every child feel accepted. He created things that brought everybody together.
At his funeral this past Saturday, McAdoo was eulogized for several hours. The funeral director read the name of every person who brought McAdoo flowers. Minnis read from a letter McAdoo sent him when he was attending FSU. I don't see anyone ever replacing McAdoo's legacy. He will be sorely missed.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.