Mike Ilitch, who owned the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers, died last Friday at the age of 87.
Ilitch, who’s love for the city of Detroit is well documented, also made a huge difference in the life of a civil rights icon.
For 11 years, Ilitch paid for Rosa Park’s apartment in downtown Detroit without any fanfare, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ.
Parks moved to Detroit shortly after her refusal to move to the back of a Montgomery, Ala., bus sparked the famed bus boycott. The civil rights activist fell on hard times in 1994 when she was robbed and assaulted in her Detroit home.
It was then that Damon Keith, a Detroit federal judge, tried to find Parks a safe home at the Riverfront Apartments in Detroit, according to Sports Business Daily, which talked to Keith in 2014.
“They don’t go around saying it,” Keith told WXYZ, “but I want to, at this point, let them know, how much the Ilitches not only meant to the city, but they meant so much for Rosa Parks, who was the mother of the civil rights movement.”
Ilitch heard of Park’s troubles in the newspaper and called Keith, offering to pay her rent, which he did until she passed away in 2005.
The Little Caesar’s founder and his wife, Marian, helped revitalize the city of Detroit with countless acts of kindness just like this one.
Ilitch’s passing is a gigantic loss for both the sports world and the Detroit community.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images