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When Mike was thirteen years old, his father Billy Winchell died from injuries sustained as an oil field worker. When Mike tried to joke with his father in the hospital one day, Billy refused to play along. Instead, the man urgently encouraged the boy to lead a good life. He had always supported Mike's athletics, and had taught the boy the importance of work ethic. On that day, Billy gave Mike some final advice - it's okay to drink occasionally, but stay away from drugs - and then said he loved Mike before he gave in and died.
Mike ran from the hospital, needing to be alone. Once he returned, he begged his brother Joe Bill to take him from Odessa, but Joe Bill refused, believing Mike should stay to make his father proud. Mike was the only one with enough talent to play for Permian. Mike ended up staying in Odessa, living in a decrepit house with his mother.