(CNN) -- Disgraced former NFL star Michael Vick declared that "I am not the bad person or the beast I've been made out to be" in a letter to a judge asking for leniency.
Michael Vick wrote he was "forever a changed man."
"I have been talked about and ridiculed on a day to day basis by people who really don't know Michael Vick the human being. They only knew the football player which is unfair," Vick said in a handwritten letter released this week.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson sentenced Vick on Monday to serve 23 months in prison for financing a dogfighting ring and helping to kill pit bulls that did not fight aggressively.
Vick wrote the judge that he had accepted responsibility for his actions, would pay restitution and never again use "a single dollar that I have earned for anything but to help people." Read letters from Vick, his mom, sports stars »
The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback said he grew up not knowing the severity of the crime of dogfighting and asked Hudson for "a second chance."
Other letters supporting Vick were sent by his mother, his seventh-grade teacher and children he had met since becoming a star and one of the NFL's most highly paid players.
Brenda Vick Boddie said her son fell victim to friends who took advantage of Vick's inability to "say no."
"PLEASE Your HONOR give my baby Michael another chance. [H]e's never been in trouble with the law before, PLEASE! PLEASE! one more chance," she pleaded in her own handwritten letter.
Former Falcons teammate Warrick Dunn, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and two sporting legends -- former home-run king Hank Aaron and former two-time boxing heavyweight champion George Foreman -- also wrote letters on Vick's behalf. E-mail to a friend