“When I was 13, my brother started making fun of me [because] I was a chunky kid, calling me BOB, which meant booty on the back instead of big butt,” Strahan, 44, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “So I started working out.”
In fact, the former defensive end used Jane Fonda‘s wildly popular workout tapes.
“I somehow got the money to buy the Jane Fonda workout tapes and did those,” he admits. “And Herschel Walker was a big player at the time, so I got the Herschel Walker workout, doing pushups and sit-ups. After three or four months of that in front of the tv, my dad was like ‘If you want I’ll work out with you.’ ”
“My dad was an all army boxer and when I was kid, we would go to the gym, but in Germany we weren’t going that much. So my dad said ‘You know what, I’ll workout with you.’ So I’d go over to the barracks on my bike and workout with him on lunchtime,” Strahan says.
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Not only did working out together create a special bond between the Good Morning America host and his father, but it also put him on the right track for football.
“On the weekends he would workout with me. And my dad saw something that I didn’t see at the time,” he continues. “I remember being 15 or 16 years old, and my dad said ‘Son, I know it’s tough, but it’ll pay off one day.’ And here I am on a Saturday or a Sunday and I’m at the gym like ‘I don’t wanna be here.’ And when I was 17 years old, he said ‘You know what, you can get a football scholarship.’ ”
And that’s exactly what he did.
• For much more from Michael Strahan – including where he stands with former co-host Kelly Ripa, his unique family and amazing life story – pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now
“I don’t know what my dad saw to make him believe that I could go back to the state of Texas, which is the hardest place in the world to get a football scholarship with all these great players, and get one,” he says. “And I got one scholarship offer to Texas Southern University and I took it because that was the mission I was sent on.”
Good Morning America airs weekdays (7–9 a.m. ET) on ABC.
• With BRITTANY KING