SARASOTA (FOX 13) - Michael Byrd proves that it is never too late to better yourself.
"I was coming to class every day during the summer. 8 to 2. Every day," he said.
Tragedy hit Michael's family when he was just a teenager. His father died unexpectedly.
The heartbreak was too much for Michael. He left high school and never went back.
"I kind of lost interest in a lot of things. School. He kept me focused on what I needed to be doing. It was a big set back," he said.
Now Michael has three children of his own.
Malik, Makiyla and Myron all go to Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota County.
That is where a GED class offered on the same campus caught his eye.
It is offered through the school's Eagle Academy, which gives parents the chance to better themselves on the same campus as their children.
"People are depending on you. People that you love. People that are close to you," said Byrd.
It had been more than 20 years since Michael was last in school.
He was in the 10th grade when he dropped out.
Once he walked through the doors of Alta Vista, he knew it would be a challenge, but it was one he was up for.
"First I wasn't even serious about it, but when I got in there, I played sports and then the competitiveness started flowing. You want to do better," he said.
As the course got harder, Michael worked harder.
"We have times where he logged in all hours of the night working on his class, trying to better himself; trying to pass another course. We could tell he was very motivated," said Dr. Barbara Shirley, the principal of Alta Vista Elementary School.
He had good reason.
"I'm proud of my dad he says if something is so hard you still have to do it," said his son Myron.
It took years of hard work, but Michael wants everyone to know it can be done.
"Don't give up even when it feels like there's no way out. There is a way out," he said.