Carter set the American national high school record of 81 feet 3½ inches in the 12 pound shot put, adding more than nine feet to the previous record. He set this mark at the 1979 Golden West Invitational track and field meet while competing for Jefferson High School of Dallas, Texas. No high school athlete has come within two feet of this record since. In 2004 this record was selected by USA Track & Field as the 16th greatest moment in American track and field over the previous quarter century, the only high school mark to make the top 25 greatest moments. He was Track and Field News "High School Athlete of the Year" in 1979.
Carter is married and has three children; D'Andra, Michelle (an Olympic athlete and medalist), and Michael Jr. Michelle was the 2005 and 2006 NCAA indoor shot put champion, Michelle Carter won the 2016 gold medal at the Rio Olympics on the last of her six throws, edging two-time defending champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand. Michelle, like her father, also set a national high school record in the shot put.