CHICAGO — Mikale Wilbon said the endless work ethic that carried him to one of the country's top football programs came from his mom, Kelly.
Mikale is the oldest of her five children, and while she's raising her four youngest kids in Avalon Park, she's also attending South Suburban College to earn an associates degree in nursing.
"She puts in a lot of hours every day," Wilbon said. "If she can do it, I know I can do it. That's my motivation."
Kelly Wilbon said Mikale has been a nonstop worker, especially on the football field, since he was a little boy. She said Wilbon, whose Cornhuskers face Tennessee in the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl, is in his "true element" when he's wearing a helmet and dodging defenses.
"It's just home for him," she said. "He loves to be 'that guy' on the field. He just loves it."
Wilbon's Twitter handle features part of the Bible passage James 4:10, which reads "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." He said he never takes for granted earning a full scholarship to Nebraska, coming from the South Side.
"I know that everybody doesn't make it out of the hood," said Wilbon, who noted he's had friends slain from gun violence. "I'm doing this for me, for my family but of course I want to show everybody where I'm from."
De La Salle head coach Mike Boehm, who was an assistant when Wilbon was averaging 200-plus rushing yards a game in high school, said Wilbon frequently comes back to the Bronzeville campus to talk to the players.
"To this day he comes back to school and keeps in contact with myself and other coaches," Boehm said. "He's a quality young man who will be an even greater husband and father down the road."
Wilbon said he visits the school to help the current Meteors.
"I don't have that much money, so my only way of giving back is to give them the knowledge of what I went through, how much hard work it takes," Wilbon said.
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