Cary Mitchell, great-grandnephew of Richmond Planet editor John Mitchell, dies | State and Area News
Charlotte fashion designer Cary Mitchell, son of the late Richmond journalist John Thomas “Tiger Tom” Mitchell and great-grandnephew of The Richmond Planet editor John Mitchell Jr., died on April 2 at age 62.
Mr. Mitchell was a tailor who made clothes for NBA players like Vince Carter, Yao Ming and Charles Barkley, as well as the late ESPN analyst Stuart Scott, the Charlotte Observer reported. He designed the first NBA Charlotte Bobcats uniforms. And he promoted community sports for kids, something that helped him with dyslexia in his own childhood.
He died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm, said his brother, John H. Mitchell of Richmond.
“We grew up being surrounded by elders who passed away holding their hands, but for someone close to your age to pass away so suddenly, there’s no preparation for that,” John Mitchell said Sunday.
Cary Mitchell grew up in Richmond, where his father, who died in 2017 aged 100, was a third-generation journalist who wrote for the prominent Richmond Planet and other black-owned publications, and was director of information on the radio.
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Tiger Tom Mitchell’s father, Roscoe C. Mitchell, also wrote for The Richmond Planet and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Roscoe Mitchell’s uncle, John Mitchell Jr., was appointed editor of The Richmond Planet around 1883 and, unafraid to call out racism, became known as “the fighting editor”.
John Mitchell said his brother suffered from dyslexia and hyperactivity as a child, but sports helped him succeed. Cary Mitchell played at sports centers around Richmond, supported by coaches and teachers who wanted kids like him to succeed.
He played basketball for Huguenot High School in the 1970s, leaving Richmond to attend and graduate from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte. He later served on the university’s board of trustees. He would have played basketball there but couldn’t because of an ankle injury, his brother said.
He lived in Paris, working for a sporting goods store and designing clothes, and continued to work for clothing design companies after returning to the United States.
A friend who was in the NBA told Mr. Mitchell how hard it was to find clothes that fit him.
“I was wearing my own stuff,” Mitchell, who was 6-foot-1, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in a 2000 interview. Basketball players “saw what I was wearing and they liked it.”
Other clients included Grant Hill and the NBA’s Scottie Pippen.
John Mitchell said his brother is committed to ensuring children have access to community sports centers with paid staff to mentor them.
“He was very keen to make sure those opportunities that he had were available to the kids today. He did that in Charlotte, and he did that here. He was a pay-it-pay guy.
Cary Mitchell traveled to Richmond regularly to help care for their 102-year-old grandmother, Ida Cheatham.
And recently, he was helping the family plan their nonprofit, the Richmond Planet Foundation, to launch a journalism scholarship for high school or college students. They helped Reggie Carter, from Tappahannock, to his efforts for Virginia to create a Richmond Planet license plate — legislation Governor Glenn Youngkin just signed the law into law a few days ago.
Cary Mitchell also helped market a upcoming documentary about The Richmond Planet produced by Tilt Creative + Production.
In the 2000 interview, Cary Mitchell credited his parents and coach, George Lancaster, for his success.
“I’ve been incredibly blessed with the parents that I have. The times I was younger, struggling in school, they really stuck with me.
Among the survivors are a sister, Ida Mitchell of Richmond, and a special niece, Mia Thomas of Richmond.
“He was just a man of courage, a man of grace. He was always generous,” said Ida Mitchell.
“He loved Richmond. He wanted to see Richmond win. He wanted young children to be able to have after-school programs, to be able to play sports after school.
One of Mr. Mitchell’s clients was former University of Richmond basketball star Johnny Newman, whose 16 NBA seasons included time in Charlotte; he was also at Mr. Mitchell’s wedding.
Over the years, Newman introduced Mr. Mitchell to future NBA clients Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Kendall Gill, he said. He joked with Mr Mitchell “that he forgot about me when he started making clothes for Tiger”.
“We used to talk business and stuff all the time. I like certain clothes; he liked to design clothes. So we were a perfect fit,” Newman said.
A funeral will be held in Charlotte on Friday. The family is planning a memorial service in Richmond, but details have not been finalized.
Writer Michael Paul Williams contributed to this report.