Typically, when New England Patriots rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell gets in a huddle, he’s surrounded by a bunch of strapping men who are about to take part in a violent and dangerous sport. Well, that’s when he’s in a huddle on a football field. Mitchell also, from time to time, huddles with a completely different crowd that reads and discusses literature. He’s part of a book club made up of older suburban women. He’s been a member for about the last two years, since he was a junior in college.
“I was there picking up [Jojo Moyes’ 2012 novel] Me Before You, the next book for the club,” Silverleaf Book Club member Kathy Rackley told The Boston Globe in a profile of the unexpected relationship. “Malcolm walked up to me and said: ‘Can I ask you something? Can you recommend a book?'”
When Rackley learned who Mitchell is — at the time he was a star receiver at the University of Georgia — she proposed to her club mates the idea of offering him a chance to join them. Pattie Bronson, the woman who was hosting the club’s next meeting, agreed. “I didn’t think there was any way he’d show up!'” Bronson recalled. “But he did.” Mitchell hadn’t finished the book they were discussing that day, but he’d impressed the women and he became a regular member. “He told us his story, and we all just fell in love,” Bronson said. “He really opened his heart and soul to us.”
Since then, he’s gone on to become one of quarterback Tom Brady’s preferred targets, a job that’s left him less time for his book club friends. But, he’s parlayed some of his thought exercises from book club into a budding career as an author. Mitchell published a children’s book called The Magician’s Hat earlier this year. And he launched the Read With Malcolm foundation as a way of promoting literacy to kids. Back in May, on his Twitter feed, Mitchell posted a photo of the women of the SilverLeaf Book Club and a message crediting them with aiding his personal growth. “The book club helped me grow into a better individual, a person who learns and grows throughout life,” he said.
In fact, Mitchell’s love of books has since gained much notoriety — to the point where Reese Witherspoon invited him to join her book club. But Mitchell politely declined — not that the ladies of SilverLeaf Book Club were about to let him take up with another club.
Read the full story at Business Insider.