Little Caesars Pizza founder Mike Ilitch, owner of Detroit Tigers, Red Wings, dies at age 87

Ilitch passes away Friday at 87 years old

Jorge Lemus/Stringer
Jorge Lemus/Stringer

DETROIT – Little Caesars Pizza founder Mike Ilitch, owner of Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, has died at age 87, a family spokesperson said.

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Here's the full statement from the Ilitch family:

"It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of my father, Mike Ilitch, our beloved colleague, friend and leader. Mr. I, as so many of you affectionately called him, died this afternoon at a local hospital. He was 87.

As many of you know, my father loved his family dearly. He is survived by his wife and my mother, Marian Ilitch, his partner in life and in business. They have seven adult children (Denise, Ron, Michael Jr., Lisa, Atanas, me and Carole), 22 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Mr. I’s love extends to the many thousands of colleagues, players, coaches and franchisees, whom he regarded as his extended family. I know firsthand how much he truly cared for each of you.

Mike Ilitch was a true leader, setting the tone for our organization and our family. While doing so he embodied our vision, values and culture in a way that we all learned from and can carry forward. He was a titan in the world of sports, business and in the community, who will be remembered for his unwavering commitment to his colleagues, his passion for Detroit, his generosity to others and his devotion to his family and friends. He touched the lives of colleagues, franchisees, pizza lovers, sports fans and many others throughout the world. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with him to nurture and grow our businesses, but mostly, I’m grateful to have called him my Dad.

Like any great leader, my father was always looking ahead, and he appreciated the importance of cultivating the next generation of leaders. He put a strong management team in place across our companies that I will continue to lead in bringing his vision to life going forward. I know that, together, we will fulfill his amazing vision for our organization.

Following a private funeral service, we will celebrate the tremendous man he was at a memorial tribute for family, close friends and colleagues. When details and timing of this memorial service are finalized, I will share that information with you. In the meantime, you can share your thoughts, memories and condolences by email to Mr@ilitchholdings.com. Thank you for your support and dedication during this time
."

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Ilitch Holdings released the following statement:

Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars Pizza, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, Chairman of Ilitch Holdings, and champion for Detroit, died today at a local hospital. He was 87.