April 3, 2014
Mike Tyler, who joined with Rodrigo Barnes and Stahle Vincent to become the first African-Americans to sign football scholarships at Rice, will be remembered in a special memorial service at the Abundant Life Cathedral, 11230 Harwin in Houston on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Tyler passed away last Saturday after a short illness.
Tyler was the first of the three to sign with Rice and he was joined by Barnes, who was his rival in high school in Waco and Vincent to become the first African-Americans to join the Owls. All three made their varsity debuts as sophomores in 1969 (freshmen were not eligible for varsity football at that time) and all three went on to find success both on the field and in the classroom. All three earned All Southwest Conference honors while earning their degrees and all three were signed by NFL teams.
Tyler's bid to reach the NFL was cut short by injuries, but he went on to a successful business career.
The three pioneers came together again last season as David Bailiff announced that they along with their recruiting host, Bucky Allshouse, would be honored during the 2013 season as part of the Owls' Honor Jersey program.
Each player was honored by a member of the 2013 team by wearing their number. Tyler was honored by senior safety Paul Porras who wore Tyler's #24 during his career.
"Mike was so proud of Rice and of his accomplishments here and that pride is something that impacted every player on this team," Rice head coach David Bailiff said. "He was so excited when I first told him about the Honor Jersey, and it was a honor to have been able to bring him back to Rice with his teammates to give them all the recognition they so richly deserved. We will miss him, but we will also celebrate the time we spent with him. He gave us great insight to what it means to be a Rice Owl."
Flowers should be sent to McDuffie's Mortuary (115 W Hamilton St, Houston, TX ý).
The family has requested that all who attend the memorial service on Saturday wear spring colors and join together in a celebration of Mike's life.