Roanoke Rapids rallies behind popular man who was struck, injured by car

March 24, 2019

A man famous around Roanoke Rapids is in critical condition after being struck by a car this week.

Around town, everybody calls Mike Stainback “ZZ.” He attends all the local school games and makes the rounds downtown on a three-wheeled bike, visiting businesses and making people smile.

At the Roanoke Rapids High School game versus Bunn, the coach was cheering on his players, but the team’s biggest cheerleader, ZZ, needs some cheerleading of his own.

“After four years and multiple sports, I’ve seen him at every [game],” Jake Van Dam said.

“He’s been a part of this school for over 50 years now,” athletic director Mark Snead said.

As water boy and team manager, ZZ has worn several hats for school sports teams.

His nickname comes from the band that he rocked out to back in the day.

“His favorite shirt was a ZZ Top shirt, Snead said. “He’d talk about ZZ Top.”

Snead said ZZ could cheer at the top of his lungs.

“He could get right loud in a game. I’ll tell you that,” he said.

When he’s not at the field, ZZ is on Roanoke Avenue downtown.

“These sidewalks, they belong to ZZ,” Interim Police Chief Bobby Marin said.

Martin said ZZ pedals the avenue every day on his bike, always stopping at the police station.

“He always brought the contagious smile with him, because when he’d come in, he always had a joke to tell you, to pick at you, to have fun with you,” Martin said.

On Wednesday, ZZ was critically injured while riding his bike along Roanoke Avenue. Police said the car’s driver was not at fault.

Now, local teams are bringing their A-game for ZZ.

“We’re playing for him, sending out prayers to him and everything. We’re just going to try to get this win for him,” Van Dam said.

Family members said ZZ remains at Vidant Hospital in Greenville.

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