Mike Hollins won't stop fighting for his fallen brothers
The 2023 Courage Award recipient has played and lived on for fallen Virginia teammates Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry.
Where do you even begin with a guy like Mike Hollins?
He turns 23 on Friday, but he has squeezed more out of his life, and more out of this past year, than most who have lived far longer than he has.
“A big transition that I went through and still am going through is stop asking ‘Why me?’ ” Hollins told me this week. “I still catch myself sometimes (asking), ‘How could this happen?’ Or, ‘Why is this happening? How different could life be?’ But transition my mind to, ‘No, why not me? What is God trying to show me? What am I not seeing or what haven't I seen yet?’ That simple transition right there has changed my recovery exceptionally.”
By now, you know Hollins’ story: Teammates Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry were shot and killed last fall after returning to the University of Virginia from a field trip. Hollins came back to the bus to try and help his teammates and was shot twice.
He fought. He survived. He not only played for the Cavaliers this season, but played well. His 80 carries and seven rushing touchdowns led the team.
Hollins is this year’s recipient of the FWAA-Orange Bowl Courage Award. It is the latest honor for a man who has become the walking embodiment of inspiration, as Hollins also received the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award.
This was my ninth year helping run point on the Courage Award as part of my FWAA duties, and while each winner — and weekly nominee — has been noteworthy in his own right, Hollins was about as obvious of a choice as there could be.
And that was before I even had the chance to chat with him.