If one had to describe Michael Spragley, they would talk about his love — a love that spans far beyond his athletic accomplishments and into the music studio.
In addition to possessing talents on the track, which has allowed him to become a member of the North Carolina track and field team, Spragley developed a love and passion for music at an early age. A short time later, a childhood film pushed him to turn his musical interests into a vision.
“I was watching this Disney movie called 'Let it Shine,’ and it’s about this rapper who wanted to express himself and get famous,” Spragley said. “I literally learned all the songs and then I started writing my own songs.”
Ever since that moment, Spragley — or “Speedy Sprag,” his musical alias — saw an opportunity to expand on his love for rapping. He started his own YouTube channel where he uploads many of his freestyles, songs and mash-ups. One of his songs, "rip kobe", has already amassed over 350,000 views.
Spragley’s two worlds of athletics and rapping collide through what he calls “flow" — his ability to glide both on the track and through his lyrics.
The flow Spragley possesses on the track has helped him compete in both the 800 and 1500 meter events for the Tar Heels, as well as the 5K and 8K in cross country.
He finished second in the 800 meter race at the 2021 Duke Twilight, when he posted a personal best time of 1:50.38. But even with his athletic success, Spragley attributes the sense of family-like love within the UNC track program as his greatest memory.
“My favorite memory is ACC’s (Outdoor Championship) during COVID and we had the whole team there,” Spragley said. "It was the first time the whole team was together. Our team was getting better, and it was nice to be together because during COVID we had to practice individually.”
The track and field family truly embraces his talents, both on and off the track.
“Literally everybody calls me ‘Sprag’ or ‘Speedy Sprag,’" he said. "Some people think that’s my name.”
Spragley said he’s freestyled during numerous practices and has paired up with teammates to create new songs, including his close teammate, senior Saypadia DeSaussure II.
“Michael is probably the most energetic person I know,” DeSaussure said. “He’s always ready to go. He’s running 10 miles a day, and he still finds time to rap at the end of the night.”
In addition to rapping with close teammates, Spragley displays his talents in the rap group, UNC-CH Cypher. The group raps Wednesday nights in the Pit, where it performs for crowds of up to 100 people.
Justis Malker, the president of UNC Cypher, said Spragley’s ability to be “raw and honest” fosters personal connections within his music.
“If you listen to a lot of his songs or his verses, they're real stories," Malker said. "They’re talking about real feelings, and he always puts an interesting spin on things.”
Whether he’s rapping in the Pit on a Wednesday night or racing past an ACC foe on the track, Spragley hopes to show people the light in all that he does.
“When I rap, I want to give people a positive message and bring joy into their life," Spragley said.
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