"I pay you to listen to my problems. I'm rich. I'm miserable. Half the time, my kids can't stand me. The other half, my wife is cheating on me. I kill people without remorse, Doc. Hell, I'm pretty average for this town, really."
Michael De Santa, formerly known as Michael Townley, is one of the three main protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V and the Ludendorff mod.
- ―Michael De Santa
Michael was born in the mid-to-late 1960s, possibly in the Midwest, which would explain why he spent some of his earlier criminal career in North Yankton. As a child, he didn't have the advantages his children have and grew up in a poor environment with his parents, where his father drank alcohol and physically abused him. During his time in high school, Michael was a quarterback for an all-state football team. Michael would often put on a well placed performance during games and also had his face in the local newspaper. However, due to his temperament issues and constant injures, he was ultimately forced to quit while he was ahead.
As time moved on, Michael eventually became a criminal, with his first bank job being in the outskirts of Carcer City in 1988, where he was able to steal $10,000. In the same year however, he was arrested twice. While in prison, Michael was able to master many skills, sometimes through bizarre events, such as learning how to do tattoos by tattooing his name on his cellmate's buttocks.
As the years went on, Michael met Trevor Philips while escorting cargo. The deal went somewhat down south but both men were able to notice that they work well together: Michael would plan out details for jobs while Trevor would execute them. From that point on, Michael and Trevor created a solid friendship but an uneasy partnership with each other. They were both somewhat successful at their profession, but Michael claims that they were always impecunious and constantly on the run from the law, which was mostly due to Trevor's rage issues that would cause him to kill someone in broad daylight. While the friendship between them was in fine condition, it was later strained as Michael met his future wife Amanda - who was a stripper at the time. Using his criminal proceeds, Michael was even able to buy Amanda some breast implants, which would help with her stripping as well as her days as a hooker. This lead to Michael creating his own prostitution racket.
While the couple's love for one another grew over time, Michael and Amanda married each other while living in a trailer park in the Midwest. As time moved forward, Amanda soon gave birth to their two children, Jimmy and Tracey. Michael, who was able to see that he had a lot more to lose if he was ever killed or imprisoned, grew more cautious over time as a criminal - much to Trevor's annoyance.
At some point in 2004, Michael met FIB agent Dave Norton. Michael struck a deal with Norton to give Trevor up to the FIB and fake his death in the process, in exchange for a cut of his accumulated millions and letting Norton "kill" him in the upcoming bank heist in Ludendorff, North Yankton - a move that would make Norton's career as the agent who took down the "Most Wanted Man in America".
The robbery, however, turned out to be a disaster; after Trevor murdered a guard, he, Michael and their accomplice Brad Snider were ambushed by over a dozen police officers ready to arrest or kill them. During the getaway, their driver was killed by pursuing police; Michael took the wheel and drove the crew to the ambush spot he and Norton had agreed on, where he claimed there was an escape chopper waiting. However, things yet again deviated from their plan when Brad was accidentally shot by Norton (later succumbing to his wounds) after he walked in front of Trevor. Michael took the second bullet as planned - although the lack of blood loss implies that he was wearing a bullet proof vest - and acted as if he believed the wound was fatal, imploring Trevor to leave him behind. Enraged beyond sense, Trevor proceeded to massacre numerous police officers before barely escaping the ambush (to Michael's chagrin) with his life.
After the incident, Michael Townley was pronounced dead. True to his word, Dave arranged for Michael to receive a comfortable stipend and a relocation to a large Los Santos mansion, where he and his family lived under the surname "De Santa" (a longtime alias of Michael's); thus, Michael received an off-the-books way to safely retire from his former criminal life and spend time with his wife and kids in exchange for a monthly five-figure "hush money" payment to Norton in exchange for his silence.