Steve LaTreal McNair was born February 14, 1973 to Ms. Lucille McNair in the small rural community of Mt. Pleasant, (in Mt. Olive) Mississippi—population of approximately 100. He was raised in a single-parent household with his four brothers--Fred, Tim, Jason, and Michael ("Doc")--by his mother who worked a factory graveyard shift to provide for her family. Ms. McNair not only worked hard to provide for her family but strived to instill in them certain values such as hard work, perseverance, honesty and integrity. When Steve was very young, Fred, the oldest of the McNair boys, became the man of the house / father-figure for Steve and his brothers. He made certain that everyone did their homework and farm chores as well as bathing and brushing their teeth before bedtime. Fred was also the one Steve turned to for advice on everything from choosing a college to deciding which sport to play since he was an All-Star athlete in four sports. Steve once said he owed Fred everything...and that he (Fred) was "forced to grow up too quickly" by having to help raise his brothers.
Alcorn State University is a member of the Division I-AA Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and is significantly smaller than the other schools that were courting him. Both Steve and his family knew that by choosing a small school he was injuring his chances of winning the Heisman and potentially risking his position in the NFL draft, but he remained true to his heart’s desire to be a quarterback.
It soon became apparent that McNair’s choice of a Division I-AA school would not negatively affect his NFL draft status when, on April 22, 1995, he was chosen as the third pick in the first round of the draft by the Houston Oilers. At age 22, McNair became the highest-drafted black quarterback ever. In August of 1995, he signed a contract for $28.4 million dollars over seven (7) years, making him the Oiler’s highest-paid player and the highest paid rookie in the history of the NFL.