Strahan was born in Houston, Texas. The youngest of six children, he is the son of Louise (Traylor) Strahan, a basketball coach, and Gene Willie Strahan, a retired Army Major and a boxer with a 1–1 record against future heavyweight Ken Norton. He is the nephew of retired professional football player Arthur Strahan. Gene was a major in the U. S. Army, and when Michael was 9, the family moved to an army post – BFV (Benjamin Franklin Village) – in Mannheim, West Germany. Although Strahan did not begin to play high school football at Westbury High School until his senior year, he did play organized football while attending school at MAHS (Mannheim American High School) a US Department of Defense Dependent High School, in Käfertal (Mannheim), Germany, playing linebacker for the Mannheim Bison in 1985. The summer before Strahan's senior year of high school, his father sent him to live with his uncle Art (a former NFL defensive lineman) in Houston so he could attend Westbury High School. Strahan played one season of football, which was enough for him to get a scholarship offer from Texas Southern University. He then flew back to Germany for the spring term, where he graduated from Mannheim Christian.