This week, ESPN is debuting a 30 for 30 documentary about college football and NFL superstar Michael Vick on Thursday, January 30. The two-part look at the highs and lows of the beloved athlete who went to prison for his part in a dogfighting ring will conclude on Thursday, February 6.
Among the people highlighted in the special will be the woman who has stood by Vick through all of his ups and downs, his wife Kijafa Frink. Here’s what you need to know about her.
1. Kijafa Is A Hampton University Graduate
Kijaha Frink, 39, was born December 15, 1980, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is also where she was raised. After high school, she went on to attend Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, which is a private, historically black university located near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
She met Vick when she was in college and actually put her education on hold at that point. But she told TT Torrez in a 2011 interview that when Vick went to prison in 2007, she realized she needed to find herself outside of being his partner, so she decided to finish her degree.
“I used to find myself in his shadow a lot. When he went away, when he went to prison, I had to begin to find myself and stop living behind him and his light and go out and do my own thing,” said Frink. “I wanted my daughters to know that you don’t necessarily have to depend on a man to take care of you … that’s why I finished school, I went to Hampton University, and I made sure I finished because I wanted to make sure I had a life outside of Mike’s life.”
2. Michael and Kijafa Met In a Nightclub in January 2002
In her interview with Torrez, Frink confirmed she met Vick in a nightclub in January 2002. She was still in college and he was out in his hometown. By then, Vick was done with college — he attended Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, which is about four hours away, from 1998 to 2000, redshirting his first year and playing two years as the Hokies’ quarterback before leaving school for the NFL.
In January 2002, Vick would have just come off his first NFL season in which he played in eight total games, with two starts. That season, he threw for almost 800 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for almost 300 yards and one touchdown.
In a 2012 interview with Philadelphia’s NBC10, Kijafa says Vick just came over to her at the nightclub, got her number and they’ve “been talking ever since.”
But in fact, Vick wrote in his 2012 autobiography Finally Free that he actually lost Kijafa’s number at first and had to get it from one of her friends. Then he called her one night when he was shopping in Walmart and they talked for hours.
“From that point on, I talked to Kijafa every day on the phone. I called her four to five times a day while she was working … and she always picked up the phone and talked to me. More than anything, it was a friendship. I made her laugh. And she made me laugh.”
3. The Couple Has Four Children and Married in 2012
Kijafa and Michael have four children between them: Mitez, 17, who is Michael’s son from his relationship with his high school girlfriend, Tameka Taylor; then they have two daughters together, Jada, 15, and London, 12, and baby Michael Jr., who was born in November 2017.
The couple didn’t get married until after Vick was released from prison in 2009. Vick proposed to Kijafa on her 29th birthday in December of that year and the whole proposal was quite the elaborate setup.
“I planned a surprise party and told her that we were going out to eat at the Ritz-Carlton,” Vick wrote in his autobiography. “When I got there, I asked the lady up front about a party downstairs, and I told Kijafa one of my teammates was attending the party. We went downstairs to ‘see my teammate.’ When we opened the doors, everyone yelled ‘Surprise!’ … a slow song came on, and I asked her to dance with me. I was thinking about what I was going to say, and I started sweating. Not only was I going to ask her to marry me, but I was also doing it on national television for The Michael Vick Project on BET.”
But the proposal went off without a hitch. They were married in June 2012 and Vick wrote of the wedding, “There are certain people in your life you never want to part ways with. And she’s the one I never want to part ways with — not just because of our two daughters, but because of the friendship we’ve developed over the years and our ability to love one another and respect one another.”
4. Kijafa Starred On and Executive Produced Two Reality Shows
Kijafa is quite a savvy partner. She executive produced and starred in The Michael Vick Project, a docuseries on BET that chronicled Vick’s rise to fame, subsequent fall from grace after the dogfighting convictions and prison time, and redemption after he was released from prison.
Kijafa went on to executive producer VH1’s Baller Wives in 2017, which followed the lives of several NFL players and their families: Kijafa and Michael Vick, Stacey and Chris Chambers, Jeniva and Asante Samuel, Aja and Channing Crowder, Kelly and Julius Jones, and Miko and Brent Grimes.
While these main cast members were from all different NFL franchises and they definitely had some clashes and drama on the show, Kijafa told Torrez that in real life, the Philadelphia Eagles wives and girlfriends were super close (Vick played for the Eagles for five seasons after his release from prison).
“The Philadelphia Eagles have the best wives and girlfriends out of any team that I know,” said Kijafa. “We are so close, we do things together, we travel together, we go out to eat, we watch the game together, we go to each other’s houses, we’re like a big family. I really like it, to be around other women who are in the same position. There’s no jealousy, no hate. We just all have a good time when we get around each other. There’s no drama, nothing like you see on the shows, us fighting. We don’t do that.”
5. She is an Entrepreneur
In addition to her television shows, Kijafa also started her own accessory business in Philadelphia called PnkElephant, which started as part of Kijafa finishing school and doing something meaningful with her life with Michael was in prison.
“I always knew I definitely wanted to have my own business and I really, really love accessories. I’ve found you can change up your outfit, you can make it so much more interesting when you switch your accessories up. So I thought let me give this a shot and we’ll see what happens,” she told Torrez.
She added that it’s hard to split her time between a business and her family, but it’s important to her to set a good example for her children.
“When I was pregnant with my first daughter, that lightbulb came on like, ‘OK, you have to do something with your life.’ You just never know where life is gonna take you. You just never know about life and I wanted to make sure that I was taken care of as well as my child. I just began saving money, putting money in different investments and it paid off for me.”
Michael Vick’s 30 for 30 special airs Thursday, January 30 and Thursday, February 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ESPN.