Michael Vick’s Friends and Family for ESPN The Magazine

 

 

I’ve been a big admirer of all things photo in ESPN The Magazine for years now, so when they came calling (via my wonderful agent at Redux Pictures) I was over the moon. They told me they were devoting the lion’s (eagle’s?) share of an issue to Michael Vick and they wanted me to photograph his fiancee, mother, brother and best friend. It was an amazing multi-day, multi-city shoot during which I got to meet some really wonderful individuals.  The interesting thing about Vick’s people is that, while it’s clear they still feel the residual pain of the dog-fighting ordeal and its fallout, they’ve come out on the other side and the future is bright.  I’m grateful to them for their time and willingness to open up to the magazine for what I think is one of the best pieces of long-form sports journalism to come along in years.

I photographed Kijafa Frink at her Philadelphia jewelry store PNK Elephant.  Kijafa and Michael Vick have two children together and are engaged to be married.

Michael called during the shoot to check up on her.  I loved how her body language changed while they were talking.  Lots of love there.

Kijafa wore an amazing outfit with spectacularly high heels, but my favorite moment of the shoot came at the end when she kicked off the shoes and relaxed.

I photographed CJ Reamon, one of Vick’s closest associates, at his home in Virginia.

This is the home that Michael bought his mother early on in his career.  When he went to prison and his money troubles got worse, she had to downsize to a smaller home.

Brenda Vick greeted me at the door to her home wearing this all white ensemble.  I swear I could hear the hallelujah choir singing for a moment.  Seriously though, she was just as angelic as she looked.  Very sweet.

Michael had commissioned this painting of him and his mother on signing day.  I had to include it in a picture or two.

I met Michael’s brother Marcus Vick at his mother’s home.  We took a few pictures there, but then took a trip to the Ridley Circle Homes public housing projects where the Vick brothers spent their formative years.  It was fascinating- Marcus showed me their first “football field” which was a common area between the homes.  He pointed out the markers that served as their yard lines.  He showed me the home they grew up in.

The Vicks are hometown heroes of course, and these girls wanted their picture taken with Marcus.  One of them later hit him up for $20, apropos of nothing, and he gave it to her.

Marcus in front of his childhood home.

The “field” where Michael and Marcus Vick learned to play football.

 

 

 

 

 

One thought

  1. Beautifully sensitive approach Melissa. The people so close to Vick convey a hard focus which you do great justice towards. You’re right – Brenda is incredibly angelic. Spot on to light an angel.

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