Michael Vick tells TMZ ... his involvement with a children's charity is not a publicity stunt to fix his image -- claiming he truly is a changed man ... thanks to his 2-year prison stint.
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback just called in to "TMZ Live" to talk about his involvement with the Team Freedom Outreach -- a charity that recruits volunteers to play sports with children who are incarcerated.
During the conversation, Vick told us he's truly passionate about the cause -- and claims it's all because of an epiphany he had during his time in prison for running an illegal dog fighting ring.
"Sometimes it takes this ... for a person to go through certain hardships ... to realize what their purpose really is," Vick said.
"I think God placed it on my heart when I was incarcerated to come out and be the best person I can be and to help as many people as I can help."
As we previously reported, Vick is taking his role with the organization so seriously, he already went to D.C. and met with Rep. John Lewis in the hopes of helping more kids.