Mitch eventually turned full-time to his writing, working as a freelance sports journalist in New York for publications such as Sports Illustrated, GEO, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. His first full time newspaper job was as a feature writer and eventual sports columnist for The Fort Lauderdale News and Sun Sentinel in Florida. He moved to Detroit in 1985, where he became a nationally-acclaimed sports journalist at the Detroit Free Press and one of the best-known media figures in that city’s history, working in newspapers, radio and television. He currently hosts a daily talk show on WJR radio (airs Monday through Friday, 5-7 p.m. EST) and appears regularly on ESPN Sports Reporters and SportsCenter.
In 1995, he married Janine Sabino. That same year he re-encountered Morrie Schwartz, a former college professor who was dying of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His visits with Schwartz would lead to the book Tuesdays with Morrie, which moved Mitch away from sports and began his career as an internationally recognized author.
Tuesdays with Morrie is the chronicle of Mitch’s time spent with his beloved professor. As a labor of love, Mitch wrote the book to help pay Morrie’s medical bills. It spent four years on the New York Times Bestseller list and is now the most successful memoir ever published. His first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, is the most successful US hardcover first adult novel ever. For One More Day debuted at No.1 on the New York Times Bestseller List and spent nine months on the list. In October 2006, For One More Day was the first book chosen by Starbucks in the newly launched Book Break Program, which also helped fight illiteracy by donating one dollar from every book sold to Jumpstart. Have a Little Faith, was released in September 2009 and selected by Oprah.com as the best nonfiction book of 2009. His most recent titles, The Time Keeper and The First Phone Call from Heaven, both debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Four of Albom’s best sellers have been turned into successful TV movies. Oprah Winfrey produced the film version of Tuesdays With Morrie in December 1999, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. The film garnered four Emmy awards, including best TV film, director, actor and supporting actor. The critically acclaimed Five People You Meet in Heaven aired on ABC in winter, 2004. Directed by Lloyd Kramer, the film was the most watched TV movie of the year, with 19 million viewers. Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day aired on ABC in December 2007 and earned Ellen Burstyn a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Most recently. Hallmark Hall of Fame produced the film adaptation of Have a Little Faith, which aired on ABC in November 2011. It starred Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford, Martin Landau, and Anika Noni Rose. In 2013, Warner Bros. optioned the film rights to The First Phone Call from Heaven for a feature film release.
An award-winning journalist and radio host, Albom wrote the screenplay for For One More Day, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and Have a Little Faith and is an established playwright, having authored numerous pieces for the theater, including the off-Broadway version of Tuesdays With Morrie (co-written with Jeffrey Hatcher) which has seen over one hundred productions across the US and Canada.
Mitch is also an accomplished song writer and lyricist. Later in his life, when music had become a sideline, he would see several of his songs recorded, including the song “Hit Somebody (The Hockey Song)” which he wrote for rock singer Warren Zevon. Albom also wrote and performed songs for several TV movies, including “Cookin’ for Two” for Christmas in Connecticut, the 1992 remake directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Albom has founded eight charities, many in the metropolitan Detroit area: Detroit Dream Scholars, A Time To Help, and S.A.Y Detroit, an umbrella organization for charities dedicated to improving the lives of the neediest, including the S.A.Y. Detroit Family Health Clinic. In January 2015, Albom announced the launchof the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park, an innovative motivational learning program equipped with state-of-the-art athletic facilities, digital learning center and tutoring program. A Hole in the Roof Foundation helps faith groups of every denomination who care for the homeless repair the spaces in which they carry out their work. The seed that gave root to the Foundation – and also inspired its name—was the hole in the roof of the I Am My Brother’s Keeper church in inner-city Detroit, written about in Have a Little Faith.
The Have Faith Haiti Mission is a special place of love and caring, dedicated to the safety, education, health and spiritual development of Haiti’s impoverished children and orphans. The Mission was founded in the 1980’s by a Detroit Pastor named John Hearn Sr. as The Caring and Sharing Mission. Since then, it has raised and cared for hundreds of children, some of whom now work there caring for the next generation.Following the devastating earthquake of January, 2010, the mission fell upon hard times, and later that year, operations were taken over by Albom and his A Hole In The Roof Foundation, and the name changed to Have Faith Haiti Mission, inspired partly by Albom’s book “Have a Little Faith.”
Working Homes/Working Families is a new charity devoted to providing homes for working families in need of decent housing. Homes that are donated or abandoned are rehabbed with the help of volunteers from A Time to Help and the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. The Heart of Detroit is a groundbreaking public service initiative. Airing weekly during Local 4 News (Detroit) at 5 p.m. and then on MitchAlbom.com, The Heart of Detroit will share inspiring stories of metro Detroiters with heart and everyday people who step up to help make our community a better place to live.
In August 2015, Albom opened the Detroit Water Ice Factory, located at 1014 Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. A charitable retail operation DWIF offers a delicious frozen dessert with 100% of all profits going to help Detroit’s neediest through SAY Detroit. Employees are members of SAY Detroit partner programs.
He also raises money for literacy projects through a variety of means including his performances with The Rock Bottom Remainders, a band made up of writers which includes Stephen King, Dave Barry, Scott Turow, Amy Tan and Ridley Pearson. Albom serves on the boards of various charities and, in 1999, was named National Hospice Organization’s Man of the Year.
In 2010, Albom was named the recipient of the Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
He lives with his wife, Janine, in Detroit, MI.
16 Albums I Could Listen To Forever
- Carole King – Tapestry
- Fairground Attraction – First Of A Million Kisses
- Gene Autry – Sings Gene Autry
- Bill Evans Trio – Live at the Village Vanguard
- Grateful Dead – American Beauty
- Sly and the Family Stone – Dance To The Music
- Elvis Presley – From the 50’s Masters
- Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life
- Jimi Hendrix – Smash Hits
- Miles Davis – Milestones
- The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
- The Housemartins – London 0, Hull 4
- Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True
- Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers – The Best Of
- Chuck Berry – The Great Twenty-Eight
- The Rolling Stones – Through the Past Darkly
15 Songs I Never, Ever Get Tired Of
- I Just Can’t Stop Dancing – Archie Bell & The Drells
- Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk – Rufus Wainwright
- Here, There and Everywhere – The Beatles
- Fields of Gold – Eva Cassidy
- War – Summer
- Pump it Up – Elvis Costello & The Attractions
- The E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen
- More Today Than Yesterday – Spiral Staircase
- The Very Thought of You – Tony Bennett
- We Gotta Get You A Woman – Todd Rundgren
- My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys – Willie Nelson
- Rue St. Vincent – Yves Montand
- A Lover’s Question – Clyde McPhatter
- True Love Ways – Buddy Holly
- So Much in Love – The Tymes
15 Artists I Never Get Tired of
- Aaron Neville
- Charlie Parker
- Sam Cooke
- Carole Sloane
- Tony Bennett
- Elvis Costello
- Frank Sinatra
- John Pizzarelli
- Ella Fitzgerald
- Duke Ellington
- Elvis Presley
- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
- Wynton Marsalis
- Stevie Wonder
- Warren Zevon
Top 7 Bands
- The Beatles
- The Spongetones
- The Drifters
- Dire Straits
- Vampire Weekend
- The Temptations
- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
- Paul Simon
- Randy Newman
- Mark Knopfler
- Warren Zevon
- Lyle Lovett
Top Music Genres
- Doo-wop oldies
- Be-bop jazz
- 1960’s Motown
- Jazz vocals
A Time to Help Decorate for the Holiday Party – November 2018
A day before A Time to Help’s largest volunteer event of the year, volunteers will be decorating the gym and other rooms for SAY Detroit’s annual Christmas Party for shelter residents and their children at The Salvation Army Harbor Light in Detroit. Getting the majority of the space prepped in advance will allow for an easier morning on December 1 before the party begins.
Please join us!
Important Information: Once in the parking lot, signage will direct you to the entrance for the project. Only confirmed registrants will be allowed into the facility. . . If you have extra Christmas decorations to donate, please bring them. . . Volunteers are welcome to bring items to donate to stock the holiday store. Age-appropriate toys and life-skills items, including books, are welcome (newborns to 15). Gifts are to be new and unwrapped. . .
Signing up to decorate on Nov. 30 does not guarantee participation on Dec. 1 for the annual party. Separate registration for that event will be posted on on Oct. 29 at atimetohelp.org.
Volunteers Needed: 15
Sign up: atimetohelp.org
News & Updates
This Thanksgiving, I’m setting an extra table. It’s not for the kids. We have one of those, with little plates of cut-up turkey, and little legs dangling from the chairs, and little heads that fall asleep on little forearms as the night wears on. It’s not for the...
There’s an old joke about two people in a restaurant. One says, “The food here is terrible.” The other says, “Yeah, and such small portions!” I thought about that when Michigan legalized recreational marijuana last week. The goal, at least partly, was to redirect the...
Growing up, what did I want to be when I got older?
The first time someone asked me what I wanted to be I said “a garbage man”. I was five. It seemed like a cool job, But then I began reading and collecting comic books, and wanted to be a cartoonist. That led me to the idea of stories. I ended up creating my own little comic books. Later I went into music because I was surrounded by people who were in music—my father was a singer, my uncle was a piano player (he taught me how to play). I think I just had a sense that it was more fun to create than it was to just slog away at some kind of labor. The people who I knew as I was growing up who seemed to be having the most fun were the people who were doing creative things. I grew up in the 60s, and you could always tell the creative people dressed more comfortably than the ones who were going to work with ties. At the beginning I said, I want to look like that, I want to act like that, I want to be happy and free like that. I think I was always more drawn to creative things. Music, writing, cartoons, you name it. It was always that over, say, accounting.
What do I think about death/why do I write about death?
I like to say that I don’t write about death, I write about life. Death just gets your attention. My mother lost her father when she was 15. He died of a heart attack. Her life was completely changed by that, and growing up, she always told us about it. When I was 22, my beloved uncle Mike – my mother’s brother – died of cancer. I was living by him at the time. That had a profound affect on me. All three of my grandparents died in the years that followed, as did my older uncles and aunts, including my Uncle Eddie, the inspiration behind “The Five People You Meet In Heaven.” And of course losing Morrie was obviously a huge event in my life. So I have been exposed to people dying at various stages of my development. That may have been more positive than it sounds. Each of those events ultimately taught me the value of cherishing every day, and the foolishness of pretending death isn’t a real part of life, or that it is a subject to be shunned or avoided. I have realized that loss, love and finding meaning in your life while you are here are all universal themes, they are true for Americans, Africans, Europeans, rich, poor, black, white, man, woman, you name it. So I know that my stories, if I do them well, should resonate with people no matter where they are reading them.
What is my family like? Do I have any sisters or brothers?
I’ve been blessed with wonderful parents, who wanted me to fly and to aspire and do things. I grew up in a small, middle class neighborhood from which most people never left. But my parents always said, “Don’t expect your life to finish here. There’s a big world out there. Go out and see it.” My older sister, my younger brother and I all took that message to heart and traveled extensively, with my siblings settling in Europe. Now, of course, our parents say, “Great. All our kids went and saw the world and now no one comes home to have dinner on Sundays.” I have an older sister and a younger brother.
What’s my once-in-a-while food indulgence?
Every year on my birthday, I have a nonstop gluttonous feast. It’s the one day each year I eat all of the unhealthy foods I won’t eat during the rest of the year. Cocoa Puffs; pizza from D’Amatos; quiche/pancake/omelette from Original Pancake House in Birmingham; Buffalo chip and banana pudding flavored ice cream at Stucchi’s of Dexter in Ann Arbor; the No. 32 sandwich from Maize and Blue Deli; french fries at Five Guys; and caramel popcorn from the Detroit Water Ice Factory.
What’s the coolest video I’ve been in recently?
I wasn’t in the video but it was my first time directing, and I got to direct Catherine O’Hara! It’s Leslie, a two episode show for the YouTube Channel WIGS. It’s a comedy about an aging actress up for the role of Mother Theresa.
What’s the first job I had after college?
I’d been travelling around Europe after college (this is about 1979) and ran out of money in Athens. While I was waiting for family to wire over some money so I could get home, I saw an ad for a piano player needed in a luxury resort hotel. With nothing to do, I answered it. Flew to Crete and ended up getting hired as the piano player for the hotel and as a nightclub singer performing Elvis Presley and Ray Charles songs. This small fishing village was so off the grid I think they thought the songs were original!
Who has been my most influential mentor or role model?
I have been very lucky to be taught, emotionally and spiritually, by many people over the years. My parents certainly affected such growth. The clerics in my life have done the same. It’s been my privilege to know Morrie Schwartz, but even some of the people I have gotten to know since Tuesdays With Morrie was published who are dying themselves and have shared their stories with me have continued to shape me. The children of the Have Faith Haiti mission have touched me deeply and affected my view of the world. Your teachers, I believe, can come from anywhere.
Are my books true stories?
All of my books begin with feelings and experiences that I have had myself. “Morrie” was an autobiographical experience. Five People was inspired by – and dedicated to – my old Uncle Eddie. For One More Day has a good deal of my own mother and me behind the characters.
Are my works taught in schools?
Yes, Tuesdays with Morrie has been used in many schools in the USA and around the world and it gives me great pleasure to hear from teachers. Morrie would be thrilled to know. If you are a teacher or to read some comments from teachers click here.
How do I come up with the ideas for my books?
Well, my inspiration tends to come from people I know. For example, obviously, Morrie and his unique personality – and unique approach to dying – was the inspiration for “Tuesdays with Morrie” along with the need to pay his medical bills. The inspiration for “Five People” was my real uncle Eddie, who was much like the character in the book, a man who felt he didn’t matter in life. I wanted to write a story in which Eddie got to know, in heaven, that he did matter here on earth – much as I would like my real uncle Eddie, wherever he is now in heaven, to experience that. The inspiration for “For One More Day” came, again, from a real person, my mother, who stood up for me all my life, even when I didn’t always stand up for her. I have imagined what life will be like when she is no longer here, and I know I will want another day with her. That feeling became the ground floor of that book. It’s a little derivative of the idea “Write what you know” which they always tell you when you begin to do fiction. I’m not so much writing what I know – after all, I don’t know amusement parks or heaven – but I am writing WHO I know. And that gives me a comfort to move ahead with my stories.
How do my books affect my own life?
The most profound effect of any of the books I have written has to have beenTuesdays With Morrie. Before that, I was a harried, ambitious sportswriter who never spent five minutes thinking about mortality, how we spend our lives, or my legacy with others. Visiting Morrie, watching him slowly die, seeing him so wise and brave in those final months, really was a life-changing experience. Just the act of writing the book, which was done to pay his medical bills, was probably the first large act that I did for someone else, not me. As it turned out, that act changed my life in so many ways.
Each of my books has taught me something, both in the writing and in the reaction. But Tuesdays, because it is a true story, was the first and most significant turn in the road.
How long does it take to for me to write my books?
It took me six years after Tuesdays, to be honest, because I was sort of overwhelmed by the huge reception for that book, since no one ever expected it – least of all me. I finally decided to do something completely different and write fiction – and a story about heaven to boot. That took some time. Once I completed The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the issue became which idea to choose next? That’s why it took me three years. I can start about four different books, only to put them aside and get interested in writing another. As for the future, well, those other four are still sitting in the drawer, crying out for attention. I have been writing faster than once every six years, but I think mine will always take a bit of time to sit in my heart and brain and feel completely right.
What has been the highlight of my publishing career?
The satisfaction, as an author, to know your book can have a lasting message. As a sportswriter and columnist, the deadlines are tough but the reaction from readers is instantaneous, but the piece is gone almost as soon as it’s published and you’re on to the next story. But with a book, if it reaches an audience, the satisfaction with your work can be longer and deeper.
What interested me in characters like Eddie and Chick, who are in many ways “losers”?
Because the world has heard enough about famous people and rich celebrities. I worked for many years with the biggest sports stars in America, and I suppose I grew tired of seeing everyday people feel these athletes were somehow gods and much more important than they were. My belief is that wealth or celebrity doesn’t make anyone more significant than anyone else and that, in truth, the greatest lessons we learn usually come from the most ordinary things and people. Charley and Eddie go through things that most of us go through. I felt that taking these simple men on extraordinary journeys would make the stories easier for readers to relate.
What was Morrie like?
Morrie was a treasure. What I often remind people who read Tuesdays With Morrie is that he was mostly the way he was even before he was dying. When I knew Morrie as a student, he was always present, involved, a great listener, a tease, a warm and gentle and academically curious professor who challenged you with his questions but comforted you with his answers. When he got sick, it was as if his best traits just magnified. I don’t know if I ever did a perfect job of describing what being with him was like; even when he couldn’t move, he made you feel loved and embraced. He loved to teach and he did it to the end.
Where do I get my inspiration from?
I look to the moments in my life when I was overwhelmed by emotion, when I felt tears behind my eyes or when I felt my breath leaving me. And then I think what was behind those moments: what happened to push me to that point? I try to see if it is something universal, something many people feel. If so, I know I am I standing in the soil of something inspiring, and I begin to create a story from that moment
Why did I write For One More Day?
I wrote it because I had wanted to do something on mothers and sons, that very unique–but not often explored–relationship. I have been blessed with a wonderful mother, a strong, loving, opinionated woman, and I know so many people, like me, who have gone through that loss. I also wanted to do something about the terrible effects of divorce on children and this book let me explore how children, when their parents split, chase after the love that eludes them. That chase often haunts you right into adulthood.
Why did you choose five people? Who are your five people you want to see in heaven?
This is a question I get all the time. There is no significance in the number 5. It could’ve been 4 or 6, but 4 seemed too few and 6 seemed too many. Sometimes when I’ve thought about it, it’s kind of generational; twenty years is about a generation, and if you begin when you’re an infant then every twenty years is another generation. Eddie was eighty years old, so there would be five people in it. People have tried to read more significance into this, but it just worked for the story. For my five, I don’t have a predetermined list and it doesn’t include anybody famous, but I hope it’s the people who are gone from my life that I miss. I’d love to have a chance to speak with Morrie and ask him what he thinks of everything that’s happened since he’s been gone. I wish I could hand my uncle Eddie the book and so he could know he wasn’t a “nobody.” I don’t really have a list of big time people that I would like to see. Most of them are loved ones who I haven’t seen for a while and I’d love to catch up with. But if there were room, I think it may be nice to meet one person who you didn’t know particularly well and you found out that you had an influence on them.
... come to your town?
Please visit my calendar for an up-to-date list of future appearances and formal signings.