Peterson was born in Gainesville, Florida, and attended Santa Fe High School (Alachua, Florida) in nearby Alachua, Florida before accepting an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida, playing for Coach Steve Spurrier’s Florida Gators football team from 1995 to 1998. He was a member of the 1996 Gators team that finished 12–1 and won the Bowl Alliance national championship by defeating the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles 52–20 in the Sugar Bowl. Peterson started twenty-four of forty-two games in which he played, posted 249 tackles, three forced fumbles, thirteen tackles for a loss, and 8.5 sacks. As a senior team captain in 1998, he was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection and a first-team All-American and was selected as the Gators’ most valuable player by his teammates.
Peterson was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a “Gator Great” in 2011.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Peterson in the second round (36th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft, playing 4 seasons for the Colts before moving to the Jaguars for 6 seasons. Peterson ended his career patrolling defensive middle for the Falcons.
In 2016, Peterson was hired as outside linebackers coach on former Gamecock’s coach Will Muschamp’s staff at South Carolina.
Peterson is the older brother of former Chicago Bears running back Adrian Peterson and cousin of former NFL wide receiver Freddie Solomon. Peterson is married to his wife Chantal and they have two sons: Mike, Jr., and Gavin.
Peterson and his wife established the Mike Peterson Foundation in 2004. The foundation was constituted in an attempt to support and benefit under-served youth and socio-economically challenged families in Peterson’s hometown of Alachua, Florida, and his NFL cities of Jacksonville and Atlanta. Since its inception, the Mike Peterson Foundation has already served over 15,000 youth and families through several community events and programs, most notably the Top Dog Readers Club literacy program at the Grove Park Elementary School in Atlanta.