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In 1934, a decision had been made that would forever change life on the LSU campus. Athletic Director trainer Chellis Mike Chambers, Athletic Director T.P. Heard, swimming pool manager and intramural swimming coach William G. Hickey Higginbotham, and LSU law student Ed Laborde decided to bring a real tiger to LSU. They raised $750, collecting twenty-five cents from each student, and purchased a two-hundred-pound, one-year old tiger from the Little Rock Zoo.
Born on October 10, 1935, and like his father, originally named Sheik, his name was changed to Mike in honor of Chambers, the man most responsible for bringing him to LSU. Interestingly, Mike I must have remembered his original name because even years later Hickey Higginbotham could get him to roar just by calling Sheik.
It was early in the morning on Wednesday, October 21, 1936. Onlookers lined Highland Road, awaiting the entourage arriving from the train station. LSU students staged a campus strike equal to none to welcome their new tiger mascot to campus. Mike I would assume his duties only three days after arriving on campus. He would reign at LSU for nearly twenty years, traveling with the team and serving as the LSU mascot.
Mike I died on Friday, June 29, 1956 of complications associated with kidney disease. He was twenty years and eight months old at his death. He created a legacy in which Mike the Tiger has come to symbolize the heart and soul of LSU athletics.
This is a black & white image of Mike VI swimming as he looks for his target. This is also available in color. Feel free to email with questions and/or comments. Thank you for looking.
December 13th, 2010
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