11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far

Lee Thompson and his pack. Photo Credit: Mo Mountain Mutts via Instagram.

By Justine Harrington

March 21, 2023

We may only be a few months into 2023, but these Michiganders are already having a truly great year.

Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: Baobab Fare via Facebook

Not only are Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere James Beard semi-finalists this year, but Mamba just won an episode of The Food Network’s “Chopped.”

The husband-and-wife duo at the helm of the popular Detroit restaurant Baobab Fare are both refugees from Burundi. Nijimbere arrived in Detroit in 2013 and lived at Freedom House, a temporary home for asylum seekers, followed by Mamba in 2015 (he was denied a visa twice). The couple are donating their Food Network winnings to Freedom House, to help build out a new shelter kitchen. 

Tyler Jamison

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: Tyler Jamison via Twitter

There have been 43 high school athletes named “Mr. Basketball” in Michigan—and this year’s winner is Port Huron Northern senior Tyler Jamison. The 6-foot, 5-inch forward was awarded the 2023 Michigan Hal Schram Mr. Basketball honor this week. This fall, Jamison is headed to Farleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack, New Jersey—one of five schools that offered him a basketball scholarship.

Arthur Meade

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: WILX News 10

Arthur Meade broke the world record for selling cars. Meade, an 84-year-old car salesman at Sundance Chevrolet in Grand Ledge, sold a whopping 13,002 cars, beating the previous record set in 1978.  

Mari Copeny

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: Mari Copeny via Instagram

This 14-year-old activist and philanthropist—known as “Little Miss Flint”—has been crusading for clean water in Michigan since the Flint Water Crisis began. This year, she’s been working on behalf of clean water in Palestine, Ohio—and as of the time of this story’s publication, she’d raised $3,710 for Easter baskets for children in Flint.

Randy Tessier

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: Randy Tessier via Facebook

Randy Tessier is a well-respected University of Michigan lecturer and writing instructor who organizes “Geezer Happy Hour,” an Ann Arbor rock show series and happy hour that’s for the 65+ crowd. Tessier, 72, also plays in the Sky King Blues Band. “Geezer Happy Hour” was recently featured in the New York Times.

Melba Joyce Boyd

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – FEBRUARY 13: Actress Melba Joyce Boyd arrives at the 41st Annual NAACP Image Awards Nominee Luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel on February 13, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Melba Joyce Boyd received the 2023 Kresge Eminent Artist award in January. She’s the 15th Detroit artist to receive the award, a lifetime achievement for artists that comes with a $50,000 prize. Boyd is an award-winning author or editor of 13 books, including nine collections of poetry, and over 100 essays on African-American culture, film, and literature.

Lee and Mo Thompson

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: Mo Thompson via Mo Mountain Mutts Instagram

Muskegon couple Lee and Mo Thompson moved to Skagway, Alaska, in 2014, and in 2021 their “puppy bus” business went full-time. This year, they had a video of their pack go viral.

The Thompsons own and operate Mo Mountain Mutts, and yes, it’s a “puppy bus” that picks up dogs for their daily walks. Thus far, Mo Mountain Mutts has amassed almost 2 million followers on TikTok. (You definitely want to get on this bus.)

Mya Terranova

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: East Lansing Junior Trojans Wrestling via Facebook

This year, East Lansing High School wrestler Mya Terranova became the school’s first female wrestler to make the state finals. This accomplishment is all the more impressive considering Terranova is still a freshman.

The Detroit Youth Choir

11 Michiganders Having an Awesome Year So Far
Photo Credit: Trae Patton/NBC via Getty Images

Led by choir director Anthony White, the Detroit Youth Choir performed on “America’s Got Talent: All Stars”—and brought judge Simon Cowell to tears. Cowell gave the choir the Golden Buzzer for their rendition of Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder.”

Editorial Director Lisa Hayes contributed to this story.

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