I've gotta post this... because it means something to me. I've worked here at iHeartRadio since 2006, and would always notice Big Mike sitting at the onramp to I-275 in Downtown Tampa.
I would usually catch the traffic light late night and Big Mike would be sitting there along Scott St - waving hello and selling water. I gained a simple friendship with Mike because he'd be there each and every night.
A lot of times, some work event would bring in food - so I'd save a little just for Mike and deliver it to him on my way home. Mike never once asked for money, but he simply shared his thanks and was always humble to everyone.
Sources say Big Mike "made a few grand a month after the cost of the water“ and still chose to live on the street. This caught me off guard, but I realize not everyone wants the responsibilities of owning a home, and dealing with bills and the hassles of everyday life. Big Mike lived his live the way he wanted... happy, and touching the lives of everyone he came across here in Tampa.
A Celebration of Life for "Big Mike" Gentry will be held Thursday, October 11th at 4:00 PM at The Portico, 1001 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602. All are invited
Major props to the Tampa Bay Times for recognizing Big Mike - he definitely deserves it.
[Photo courtesy of Steve Bazarte]