A day after PEOPLE broke the news of his split from fiancée Nicole Murphy, Live with Kelly and Michael co-host Michael Strahan had a joyful night as he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
“This has been the best weekend of my life,” Strahan said in an emotional and funny speech, calling himself “an improbable” football star.
Onstage at the Canton, Ohio, ceremony, the former New York Giants standout said that he never wanted to play football when he was growing up and that his brothers teased him about being chubby as a kid.
Then “the improbable happened again,” Strahan said. “I get drafted by the New York freakin’ Giants.”
Strahan – who went on to become one of the greatest defensive ends in NFL history and who clinched a Super Bowl win in his final season – joked that he was “still scared” of former teammate Lawrence Taylor.
He wrapped up his speech by giving a shout-out to his “TV wife,” Kelly Ripa, who blew him a kiss. “Thank you, baby,” he said, smiling at her. Singer Usher and Strahan’s former colleague, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, were also in the audience, cheering him on. (For more on the other players inducted, go to SI.com.)
Strahan’s Hall of Fame induction came one day after Nicole Murphy’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE that she had “ended her five-year engagement” to the retired NFL player.
“They love each other very much, but with the distance and work schedule it has been hard to maintain the relationship,” his rep told PEOPLE.
The split didn’t seem to get the star down. At an afterparty, an elated Strahan toasted his milestone with Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve and mingled with his family, friends and former teammates.
“He was genuinely grateful and thrilled to be celebrating with his friends,” says a source. Strahan welcomed his friend Jon Bon Jovi to the stage for a special one-hour set, and, after LL Cool J turned up onstage to close out the night, Strahan “was the last to leave,” says the source, who noted the guest of honor was “dancing to Bon Jovi and LL Cool J and snapping photos.”
• With reporting by MELODY CHIU and ASSOCIATED PRESS