Dozens of people auditioned for the role. But as he did so often on the football field, Michael Strahan emerged victorious – landing the coveted job of Live! co-host alongside Kelly Ripa following Regis Philbin’s retirement.
Strahan, 40, is already a household name in New York, where he played his entire celebrated NFL career with the Giants. But what else does he bring to the table?
Below, check out five things to know about the Houston, Texas, native, including his charitable side and his future bride.
1. He’s one of the great NFL defensive players of all time.
The youngest of six children, Strahan learned the game of football partly in Germany, where his father was a U.S. Army major. An impressive 6’5″ and 275 lbs., Strahan turned pro in 1993 and instilled fear in quarterbacks across the NFL as a defensive end for the Giants. He finished his 15-year career with 141.5 career sacks and 794 career tackles, and was named to the Pro Bowl seven times. He hold the record for most sacks in a season, was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2001, and won the Super Bowl with the Giants in his final season.
2. He has pursued a TV career as intensely as he played football.
With his big smile and gregarious manner, Strahan is a natural in front of the cameras. He began a career in TV as soon as he retired from the NFL. He has worked as a football analyst on Fox NFL Sunday; co-hosted the sports reality show Pros vs. Joes on Spike TV; and even produced and starred in a Fox sitcom, Brothers (though it was canceled in 2009 after 13 episodes).
3. He’s a budding philanthropist.
Strahan founded the Michael Strahan Foundation to help disadvantaged youth in the greater New York area. (Its fundraisers include an annual charity golf tournment.) Strahan has also been involved with the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Miracle Network, Housing Enterprises for the Less Privileged (H.E.L.P.), PETA (for which he filmed an anti-dogfighting PSA in the wake of the Michael Vick scandal), and the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
4. He’s engaged to Eddie Murphy’s ex.
Strahan has three daughters and a son from two marriages, both of which ended in divorce. Since 2009, has been engaged to Nicole Murphy, the ex-wife of Eddie Murphy, with whom she has five children. “I have a great relationship, and she’s a great girl,” Strahan told PEOPLE around the time of the proposal. “I don’t like to talk much about my private life, but I’m really happy.”
5. He’s overjoyed to partner full time with Kelly.
Strahan doesn’t see himself replacing Regis. “If you put it in that aspect, it’s just too big,” he told CNN’s Showbiz Tonight in May, when he was actively campaigning for the gig. “I just look at it as an opportunity to go on TV and tell stories and have fun and entertain myself and other people, and not look at the big magnitude and scope of it … I think the show fits my personality.”