Born originally as Michael Arthur Long to a blue-collared family outside of Los Angeles on January 9, 1949, Michael Knight started getting involved in crime fighting as early as in the 1960's when he was drafted into the US Army, working for the Green Berets and spending three years at Vietnam as an intelligence officer. While in the country, he was caught snooping around, only to escape from a POW camp he was held at, incurring an injury that required brain surgery which gave him a steel plate on the back of his head.
After his stint in Vietnam was finished, he was later discharged from the Army somewhere around 1972 and recruited to the Los Angeles Police Force where he would work for the next 10 years. However on August 8, 1982, while on a special assignment for the LAPD undercover as a security guard at Consildated Chemical Corporation in Las Vegas, Nevada, he got injured, being shot by industrial espionage expert Tanya Walker after being betrayed by her, while losing his longtime partner, Muntzy, to a gunshot shootout.
That same day he was declared killed in action, and was whisked away by the Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG), a private arms division of Knight Industries headed by industrialist Wilton Knight. He received medical attention and was given a new face through facial reconstruction surgery.
Wilton chose to use the face of his assumed-to-be imprisoned son, Garthe Knight as a basis for Michael's new identity.
After Wilton dies, Michael demands that Devon Miles give him his car and let him go to find the people that had set him up and attempted to murder him. Devon insists that Michael take K.I.T.T. with him as Wilton had requested. Michael left with K.I.T.T. and captured the people who had tried to murder him. And so began the journey of a man who does not exist.