Lowe: Mike VI Holds Special Place in Our Hearts
Communications Sr. Associate
I don’t know why, but I’ve really felt attached to our past two mascots and it just seems different that these three letters are on the Twitter and Facebook everywhere you look: R.I.P.
Maybe it was when Mike V was brought as a little cub onto the floor of the Assembly Center prior to a game with Alabama. A live Tiger walking around the court during the pregame. We were all petting it and watching it with wonder. What must he have been thinking? This was 1990 so it was still just a couple of years after I had returned to LSU.
There’s a photo somewhere of Mike V outside the old Tiger cage with Mike IV looking from inside at the youngster shortly before Mike IV retired. You could imagine Mike IV saying, “Son, it’s your turn now. Make all the Mikes proud!”
He did for 17 years and he was the first to experience the amazing habitat that is now called home for Mike.
Monday, I made sure to pass Mike's habitat on my trip to the basketball practice facility - a walk I’ve taken many times over the years. More days than not, there would be a sleeping Mike VI lying near the southwest corner of the outdoor enclosure. More times than not there would people in that corner watching Mike as well.
Monday, it seemed emptier than normal because Mike VI had been moved to his night house. The battle became too tough, too hard. God, I hate the word "cancer." In humans or Tigers. It just sucks. Too many we know face it every day.
There were a couple of moms there with kids and one of the kids as I walked by said to the others, “This is where he usually sleeps during the afternoon.”
I had to walk a little faster at that point. It was one of those smiling through the tears moments.
Now, how long before another Tiger tries to find the shade in that same spot?
There was that vacant time before in the summer of 2007. No Tiger. A search for a Tiger we could call Mike again. Into all LSU fans life came a young Tiger named “Roscoe.” “Roscoe?” we wondered. Under a Tiger habitat with a tower that said “Graham Tiger Tower?” It was a little jarring. But then the magic happened in that habitat again.
The new 2-year-old Tiger walked out into his habitat and cries of “Mike” erupted from a crowd that had been tipped off that this moment might happen. Roscoe? Forget about it. Mike VI was born that day and this Mike played to the crowd in perfect fashion – jumping into the pool, moving toward the glass and fence for pictures. Seemingly playing for the crowd. Talk about a first impression.
And Mike VI seemed always like that, recognizing those who came for daily visits. The ones who he would come up to the fence and glass and playfully paw with. Even in his final days, he was outside to be seen and loved by all.
My favorite Mike VI picture is Mike looking at the camera as his picture was taken on what has been called “Sneaux Day” on Dec. 11, 2008. It was a beautiful shot of Mike with a blanket of white under him.
Now Mike VI was a stubborn type when it came to that rolling cage and visiting Tiger Stadium. He just liked the habitat that much more. Now, little did we know the story in the media of the man who took care of Roscoe in his early days and the promise not to force him to do the stadium ride.
The last three Tigers have been donations and gifts to the school and hopefully that is where a young Tiger ready to assume the mantle of Mike VII will be found. LSU fans will readily love him and visit him in his glorious habitat. I’m sure hoping he will somehow follow the Mikes before him and love the adulation in his own way in return.
I’ve seen the word “beloved” a lot in the last hour. I think that’s appropriate. Here’s hoping I won’t have many months into this basketball season that I have to walk past that corner of the habitat and see nothing but grass. Thankfully in this social media age, photos and videos are abundant of this Tiger named Mike.
Goodbye Mike VI. Goodbye and Godspeed.