Editor’s note: Mike Curtis is the new Detroit Pistons beat writer for The Detroit News. Here are 10 things about him:
► 1. I’m an early 90’s baby and only child who was born in Paducah, Kentucky, but my mother moved us to Saginaw when I was five, shortly after the sudden death of my father in 1995. Good old SagNasty. It’s not an easy place to grow up, but if you can get by, you can do it anywhere. Just ask four-time NBA champion Draymond Green, Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham, former NBA dunk contest champion Jason Richardson or Super Bowl champion LaMarr Woodley. It’s also the birthplace of two legends, Serena Williams and Stevie Wonder, who eventually moved on when they were young. My first job was Hungry Howie’s Pizza in Bridgeport, and I worked there during my senior years at Buena Vista High School. Most of my paychecks went to pizza and video games. It was the good old days. After graduating in 2009, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee to start a new journey.
► 2. I am a proud graduate of Tennessee State University, the only university I applied to as a senior in high school. I envisioned myself going to Michigan State, but ultimately wanted to attend an HBCU. If Saginaw was my foundation, then TSU is where my development was nurtured and enhanced. I was very shy in first grade, but became an extrovert-introvert by the time I left “The Land of Golden Sunshine”. I made lifelong friendships and joined several organizations. In my second year, I changed my major from architecture to mass communication. This decision was a pivotal moment as it was the start of my pursuit of journalism. They call college the best years of your life. I don’t necessarily agree with that because I believe we’re constantly evolving and improving, but it was definitely one of the funniest times*. I’m so glad I went to TSU.
► 3. Let me explain why my major was architecture in the first place. A lot of people don’t know this, but my hidden talent is art. I’ve had a natural ability to draw since I was quite young. I filled several sketchbooks throughout my teenage years. My specialty was cartoons, especially characters from Dragon Ball Z, Looney Tunes, and Marvel comics, but occasionally I drew real people, like musicians and NBA players. I took the best photos from SLAM magazine – the basketball version of the Bible – and drew my favorite players. I drew Allen Iverson during his brief stint with the Pistons in 2009, but it didn’t look like the “AI” we all know. I would say my best celebrity portrayal was of Kobe Bryant when he was playing for Team USA in 2008. I wanted to pursue a career in art but didn’t think it was lucrative enough to make a living decently, so I chose architecture instead. . I quickly realized that I was not going to last in this field because I was not passionate. Bottom line: Don’t chase money. Chase your passion.
► 4. Speaking of passion, basketball has always been one of mine. I loved playing basketball with my friends. I wasn’t the tallest and didn’t have the best grips, but I could shoot despite my height. Some people say the “swish” is their favorite basketball sound, but I like to call it a snap or snap as the ball passes through the net. It’s one of the best nuances of the game. I grew up watching the Pistons in the “Goin’ to Work” days, when their games were shown on Fox Sports Detroit – if they weren’t at the national television. The first NBA game I attended was a 2005 Pistons game against the Denver Nuggets at the Palace of Auburn Hills. I witnessed the franchise transition from the defensive coaching era of Larry Brown to the offensive reign of Flip Saunders. As a child of the 90s, I was aware of the dynamic duo between Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars and the rest of the Bad Boy Pistons. It’s always been my dream to cover the NBA, and now I’ll be able to document a new era in Pistons lore, including Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jaden Ivey, Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Stewart and the rest of Detroit’s young core. .
► 5. After graduating from TSU in 2014, I held several odd jobs in marketing and customer service until I pursued my master’s degree in the state of Middle Tennessee. During this time, I did an internship at the Tennessean’s Design Studio. My career really took off in 2018 after I graduated from MTSU. I was accepted into the Institute of Sports Journalism, a training and internship program for students who want to pursue a career in sports journalism. My internship brought me to the Knoxville News Sentinel. It was my last summer in Tennessee, because this fall I landed my first full-time job in journalism.
► 6. I wouldn’t be in Detroit without my previous stop in Syracuse, New York. I’ve worked at syracuse.com/The Post-Standard for the past 3 and a half years. I covered sports in high school for about a year and a half until the pandemic changed the whole landscape of the world. During that time, I was promoted to the college level and covered Syracuse men’s and women’s basketball, as well as Syracuse football and recruiting. I had a lot of fun times, learning lessons, interesting encounters, and special stories during my time covering Syracuse. It’s a little ironic that former Syracuse star Buddy Boeheim is also on a two-way deal with the Pistons.
► 7. I am a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. I chose this fact for #7 to honor the seven founders who founded the organization on Tuesday, December 4, 1906. It also makes a little over seven years since I was initiated in 2014. Cheers to my line brothers, the 13 AGE. The late Stuart Scott, fellow Alphaman and former legendary SportsCenter broadcaster, was one of my biggest inspirations in journalism and one of my earliest reasons for wanting to join the fraternity.
► 8. Music is an integral part of my life. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the car, out for a walk, or just lounging around my apartment, music usually blares through my Airpods or Bluetooth speaker. I mainly listen to hip-hop and R&B, but I’ve been passionate about gospel for the past few years. My closest friends are used to me popping out every once in a while with random song lyrics. This also applies to Twitter. If you see a quote, nine times out of 10 I took it from a song. My favorite musical artist is J. Cole. He is by far the greatest lyricist of this generation. I’m sure this comment will ruffle a few feathers, but I’ll stick to it. My other favorites include Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Nipsey Hussle, Meek Mill and Detroit’s Big Sean. I’ve seen most of them live and can’t wait to see Lamar for the second time on his Big Steppers Tour at Little Caesars Arena next month.
► 9. I have battled Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), for the past 20 years. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ve taken countless forms of medication, undergone excruciating surgeries, and made several sudden trips to the bathroom. I was diagnosed when I was 11 at the University of Michigan Medical School. I promised myself that I would never be defined by Crohn’s disease and that I would rather live as if I didn’t have it. This state of mind can be a gift and a curse. In fact, most people couldn’t tell I was in pain just by looking at me. I guess I hide it pretty well, either that or I got used to it. My support system of my mom and closest friends gets me through most of the time. I wondered if I wanted to write about this as it’s a little personal, but it’s part of my story and I hope it empowers someone who is also battling a chronic illness. Still, I’ve accomplished so much more than I imagined when I was in that doctor’s office as a kid and was told I had an incurable disease. If I can achieve my dreams, so can you.
► 10. Let’s end this on a more positive note. I like food. A few favorites include pizza, salmon, lemon pepper wings, and tacos. If anyone has any restaurant recommendations, please send them to me!