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Michael Strahan, 44, is shedding light on what really went down with his former talk show companion, Kelly Ripa. “The most disappointing thing to me was that I was painted as the bad guy because I value the way I carry myself,” the newly minted “Good Morning America” co-host said in this week’s issue of People magazine. “I don’t want people to see me as ‘Oh, he just ran out, just left them there.’ That’s just not true.”

As previously reported, Strahan surprised on us when he announced — rather suddenly — his exit from the “Live!” position in April. Meanwhile, sources close to Ripa, who was a no-show the very next day, claimed she wasn’t given a heads-up. One week later, Ripa returned to the popular morning show, explaining that after 26 years with ABC she “earned the right” to take some time off to “gather [her] thoughts.”

Though, just last week, Disney/ABC chief Ben Sherwood appeared to take some responsibility for blindsiding Ripa, telling The Hollywood Reporter that the network “made some mistakes” in handling Strahan’s exit. The damage had already bee done: “I wasn’t surprised by her reaction at all, but I can’t control somebody else’s actions. I was there four years, and it’s about more than just being in front of the camera.”

“At one point I think we were friends. I don’t know what happened at the end. I learned a lot from her, though,” Strahan told People of his relationship with Ripa.

In 2012, Strahan was called up to replace Regis Philbin. During his four-year tenure, he and Ripa nabbed the Daytime Emmy for outstanding entertainment talk show host twice, including in 2016.

“Toward the end of it all, we didn’t really communicate that much,” Strahan says. “I kinda looked at it like, ‘It was what it was.’ I come from a business where you have to collaborate. Was the show going well? We’re all winning. That’s all that matters to me.”

Now that the dust has settled, what are your thoughts on Strahan’s exit? Sound off in the comment section below.

R. Hawkins

Humble with a hint of Muhammad Ali…