Mike Mitchell's dream since he was six years old was to play in the National Football League. It was a dream he shared with his biggest fan, his father Maurice Mitchell, who helped his son every step of the way.
So when Mitchell was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, sharing that with his father was special.
"That is one of the best gifts I was able to give my dad," said Mitchell. "We have been on this journey since I was six years old, yes six. I told him I wanted to be a pro football player at six and we have been working on it ever since. He came up to me that day and said congratulations. He was proud of me. Just that, I knew I did a big thing for both of us. I knew it was a big moment."
Mitchell is one of several Steelers who shared the story of who his mentor is with the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (MPSWPA) in celebration of January being National Mentoring Month, and hands down, his father is his mentor.
"He obviously has been a guy that has pushed me, kept me on the right path, and kept me focused," said Mitchell. "He has been there for me when things weren't good. I have been through numerous injuries, numerous times people were telling me I wasn't good enough, or I wasn't going to be able to make it.
"If it wasn't for him and my mother keeping me on the right path, keeping me guided, keeping me grounded, giving me that moral support, I know I wouldn't have made it to where I am today."
The Steelers have partnered with the MPSWPA for the past six years, and each year the relationship impacts more and more lives.
"Their stories show that mentoring really does have an impact on everyone," said Kristan Allen, director of marketing and communications for the MPSWPA "We know mentoring works. In fact, a recent report confirms that mentoring is linked to improved academic, social and economic prospects. Additionally, the report found that youth with mentors are more likely to report higher engagement in positive behaviors."