Ulish Booker has accomplished quite a bit on and off the football field.
Booker had a highly successful playing career where he played collegiately at Michigan State and in the NFL. He has translated into life after football, where he has been able to pursue his passion for helping others and is now in the final stages of launching a new business.
Spartan Nation had the chance to speak with Booker about his time at Michigan State and his time in the NFL and his current endeavors.
Booker, who played offensive tackle Michigan State from 1998-2002, spoke fondly of his time in East Lansing and called it a period that helped him become the person he is today.
"I look at it as one of the greatest times of my life," he said. "One of the periods in my life that helped shape me into the adult and the productive citizen that I am now. I would say it's one of the greatest times of my life."
As far as what still stands out to him about Michigan State almost 20 years after graduating, Booker said that the campus, the atmosphere, and the people are what helped make East Lansing a special place.
"Just to this day, the actual campus, the fact that East Lansing is all Michigan State - there's a lot of other universities across the country that are kind of intermingled in the city that they reside in. However, Michigan State is all East Lansing," he said. "Its beautiful scenery and the fact that Spartan Stadium sits in the middle of campus and the Breslin is right around the corner, and everywhere you look, the Spartan imprint is there. Being able to participate and being around those opportunities, the facilities, the people there, and the friendships I've made from being a Spartan. Those memories that he created going through those periods with other teammates from other places, other backgrounds, other races, and being able to come together all as one and work to a common goal."
After wrapping up his collegiate career at Michigan State, Booker signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2003. Following a year out of football, Booker found his way to Pittsburgh, joining the Steelers, where he spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons and was a part of the Steelers' 2005-06 Super Bowl team. Booker also played for the Amsterdam Admirals in NFL Europe in 2005, starting all 13 games as the Admirals went on to win the World Bowl.
When reflecting on his professional playing career, Booker said that he was grateful for the opportunities that helped him get to where he is today.
"I would say that football has given me a lot of opportunities and essentially taking me around the world to play a kids game for a king's ransom basically," he said. "I enjoyed it, it was a part of my life, but it didn't allow it to define me as completely who I am. It helped me create a platform to take me to the next platform and the next step in my life."
Booker currently resides in his home state of Connecticut with his three daughters, Caden, Kerry, and Kylie.
After his playing career came to an end, Booker, who has a degree in Family Community Services, started a human services agency that provided therapeutic mentoring and therapeutic services for the department of children and families. Booker also works for his national church organization, The Church of God and Christ, and was appointed to a national position.
Booker is now in the process of starting his own business, Spartan Global Network, a company that provides a wide range of services and products at a reasonable price online. Booker said the company serves as the "marketing arm for the Affinity Consumer Alliance." Spartan Global Network is set to launch in the coming days.
"The Spartan Global Network is a platform that provides access to financial services, discount rewards, travel, and a host of other products at a very affordable price point," he said. "That was birthed out of my national church and just seeing the need for products and services for a particular demographic and in large part for people that was fair.
"Most of my life, I've been driven by helping people or just being a positive individual that is solutions-oriented. Spartan allows me to help bring products and services to folks that are, most times, underserved, or get products that aren't conducive to a specific or desired need. It allows me to create something honest, fair, competitive, and so I'm excited about the next phase in my life and where this opportunity will take me."
Booker is ready and excited to begin operations with his company set to see the time and effort he's put in with Spartan Global Network's launch.
"I'm excited," he said. "It's new from the standpoint of what the expectation and what the thoughts will be from the subscription base and the opportunity in large. I'm excited because I've been working on it for so long, I've been working on it for a lengthy amount of time, and it's finally coming to fruition. You have to understand, to be able to put me in a situation to forge relationships and contracts with multi-million dollar companies all on my own. It's a testament to what hard work, perseverance, and consistency will help you to produce."
Booker has also had the opportunity to watch and follow his nephew, Tyler, who is one of the nation's best 2022 football recruits and holds more than 20 offers, including one from the Spartans.
Booker said that having the opportunity to watch his nephew rise to be one of the nation's most coveted recruits has been exciting for several reasons.
"Exciting that I get to watch him go through the process that just zoomed by for me," he said. "It's really exciting watching him perform and just knowing that he has information and has attained information throughout the years of his progression and his journey that allowed him to be that much better than me. I was in the same position at the same age, and I'm just glad that I was able to help contribute to his success early on. He's a great athlete in his own right and is making his way, but he is going to be something to watch, and he's going to be something to deal with on the field."
Booker has been able to follow his alma mater, and with the Spartan football program now under the direction of first-year head coach Mel Tucker, Booker shared a story of his first day on campus. At Michigan State in 1998 and his first interaction with Tucker, who was on staff as a graduate assistant.
"When I arrived at Michigan State in the summer of 1998, Mel Tucker was a grad assistant, and he was the first person I ran into - my family and I - he was the first person I ran into in the football building," he said. "I'm from Connecticut, I didn't even know what the Big Ten was at the time, I didn't have a good idea of what the Big Ten was. So here I was in Big Ten country, I'd been driving all night long to get to East Lansing, and Mel Tucker was the first person I run into, and he gives me a pair of sneakers and little did I know what was before me. I'm thinking, I'll sign up, go to class, get a tour of the facility - No buddy - I put those sneakers on, and the first person I met after that was Ken Mannie, and I had my first workout. I passed out during the workout, I went to the locker room, laid down, and Coach Mannie came in the locker room, woke me up, and I had to finish my workout. I always tell this story, I don't know whether to punch Mel Tucker or hug him (laughing)."
But when looking at the state and direction of the program under Tucker, Booker said that he's looking forward to seeing what Tucker can accomplish in East Lansing moving forward.
"I'm excited about the football program," he said. "Coach Tucker's accomplished greatness in his career in his own right. He's been a defensive coordinator at a high level at all levels; he's from the Saban tree, coached at the University of Georgia, in the NFL, accomplished in his own right. I'm excited about the fact he's willing to step in an even approach with the top tier guys, that's something that we didn't do with the last administration if you will. I'm excited that Coach Tucker is taking that leap of faith and having the confidence in the brand and what Spartan football has built up to be to go after the top-level recruits for us to compete with the upper echelon of college football."