BIRTHPLACE: Detroit, Mich.
BORN: July 20, 1929
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Detroit Red Wings
Mike Ilitch has become synonymous with two things over his lifetime that seem to make everybody happy - pizza and hockey. While business has been good to the Little Caesars Pizza founder, it has been the latter that has earned him a spot in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. The sport of hockey has been an integral part of the Detroit native's life.
Ilitch's commitment to amateur hockey is legendary, as he has sponsored teams throughout the Midwest since 1968. His Little Caesars AAA Hockey program is one of the most recognized and respected organizations throughout the amateur ranks. In fact, more than 200,000 youngsters have participated in the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League and the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey Club - both of which have a proud tradition of success, having captured numerous tournament titles, state championships and national championships along the way.
While winning is important, the major goal has always been to develop well-rounded individuals who are prepared for future careers both on and off the ice.
Ilitch and his wife, Marian, purchased the Detroit Red Wings franchise from the Norris family in 1982 during one of the NHL Original Six franchise's lowest periods of success on the ice and in the stands. Under Ilitch's direction, the Red Wings have developed into one of professional sports' premier franchises, winning several division championships, Western Conference titles, Presidents' Trophies and Stanley Cups in his tenure as owner.
Among Ilitch's numerous honors and accolades, he has received Presidential Citations from the Clinton, Bush and Reagan administrations. He has been honored as the recipient of the 1991 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the U.S., and was also inducted to both the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in 2003 as well as the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Ilitch and his wife have raised seven children and numerous grandchildren.