Sony Michel is 100% Haitian. Both of his parents immigrated from Haiti to America, though they only met after they were both living in Florida separately.
Though Michel’s half-sister was born in Haiti, Michel was born in the United States. Per ESPN, Marie and Jean Michel met in 1991 in Florida, and Sony’s older brother Marken was born in 1993, followed by Sony in 1995.
Michel has repeatedly stated how important his family and his culture is to him. To ESPN, Michel said, “When I walk on that field, that Michel on my back is not just for me. It’s bigger than me. It’s my family… Being raised in the [Haitian] culture, that’s the expectation — it’s not going to be pretty, it’s not going to be fun. I knew that [my mom’s trip] trip wasn’t fun, so I kind of braced myself. That right there put it in perspective. Her story was inspiring for me.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Michel’s Mother Left Her Daughter, Lamise, Behind in Haiti When She First Immigrated to the United States
Michel’s mother, Marie, left Haiti in 1990 for a “better life” in the United States, according to a profile of the Michel family by ESPN. Per the publication, Marie spent three months in the Bahamas before taking a boat overnight with thirteen people to Miami.
Marie left almost everything behind when she went to the states, including her 19-month-old daughter, Lamise, who she would return for six years later. According to ESPN, all Marie brought to the United States was a notebook with her sister’s phone number to call upon her arrival in Miami.
Now, Marie works in the cafeteria at American Heritage High School, a job which ESPN reports her son helped her get. Marie has insisted on continuing to work despite her son’s success. ToESPN, she said, You still have to try to save some. He wants to give me [money] now, but what if one day he says, ‘I can’t help anymore’? If that happens, I still know I can take care of myself.”
Michel Didn’t Know His Parents’ Full Experience as Immigrants Until He Was an Adult
Michel’s relationship with his parents has seemingly grown stronger in his adulthood, as he’s increasingly been able to talk to his parents about their experiences before he was born. To The Boston Globe, Michel said, I first talked to my parents about [their experience during] my last year of college. I was like, ‘Tell me about your experience,’ and that was the first time they told me. But just from growing up, it was more of just seeing.”
Michel added, “I knew the situation I was in, we didn’t have everything. We were poor, I understood that. But at the same time, my parents always made sure I had the shoes I needed to go to school, the clothes I wanted, and I thought that was interesting. I understand, like ‘OK, they care for me, they’re going to work hard to do whatever it takes.”
After Michel’s stunning win with the Patriots in the AFC Championship game, Marie said in a phone call to ESPN, “That was amazing. Just crazy. The first year? To go to the Super Bowl? It made me cry.”