Steven Stamkos, Bob Buckhorn, Kevin Kiermaier.... these are all household names for nearly everyone here in Tampa. For many around the city, another name to remember is "Big Mike". Unfortunately, his Tampa legacy will now live on only in stories, after he passed away from heart disease.
Michael Gentry is a homeless man who gained local attention for sitting at traffic light on Scott Street near the entrance ramp to 275 and I-4. He has been at that location for nearly 20 years. He held handmade signs praising Trump or local sports teams, and he was almost always selling something - usually water or newspapers. Occasionally he danced, he even dressed up for the holidays.
Most of all, he was known for just being there. Many passed him on their daily commute to and from work, including PM Tampa Bay's Ryan Gorman. Ryan says he was a friendly guy that he was used to seeing almost every day on his drive home. He was first alerted to his death by a large wooden cross that took his place on the corner.
Big Mike died at the age of 57 of heart disease at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He passed on September 22nd, a sad day for those who grew fond of having him as a part of their daily lives.
For the Tampa Bay Times article on Big Mike, click here. Photo courtesy of Steve Bazarte.