When the Patriots drafted Malcolm Mitchell in the fourth round on Saturday, they picked not only a wide receiver but also a children’s book author.
Though Mitchell did not like to read as a child, even through high school, that changed when he was forced to miss all but one game of Georgia’s 2013 season with an ACL tear.
“I’ve always searched for ways to be creative. And when I got injured in 2013, reading picked up,” Mitchell told The Red & Black last fall. “It was one of the hobbies I picked up. And as you read more over time, you get more creative.”
As his love of reading flourished, he wanted to help kids get into reading and enjoy it, so he began frequenting local elementary schools to read with students for what was eventually dubbed, Read With Malcolm.
Then, the Valdosta, Ga., native put pen to paper to author “The Magician’s Hat” last summer. He was able to have the book published — he spent between $500 and $1,000 of his own money to publish it — and even sell it in local bookstores.
“This is a piece of me, technically, because it’s my vision, it’s my art, it’s my words,” he told the Athens Banner-Herald last year. “Just opening up and sharing that with everybody isn’t the easiest thing to do. But if you want to get a message out you have to open your arms and allow people to step in and today is my attempt to do this with this book.
“Without the injury, there is no guarantee that none of this is taking place. And this means so much to me,” Mitchell said last fall. “I wouldn’t want to be without this book. If that means that I wouldn’t have it without having the injury, then I would have the injury.”
A year after his injury, Mitchell also joined a book club in Athens, Ga., where the University of Georgia is. But it wasn’t a book club made of teammates or even a book club on campus.
It was a book club of middle-aged women in Athens.
Mitchell approached Kathy Rackley near the best-seller rack in the local Barnes & Noble one afternoon, asking for book recommendations.
“From there on, the conversation just grew until she told me she had just joined a book club,” he said in 2014.
Mitchell had been on the hunt for a book club to join, so he asked Rackley if she would reach out to her club on his behalf.
“I said, ‘I don’t know if you want to join ours. We’re all 40-, 50-, 60-year-old women.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care. I just like to read.’ ”
“I thought they were going to say no,” he said.
On the contrary.
“I’ve been adopted into their family,” he said. “I defiinitely enjoy it.”
The club met once a month, helping Mitchell expand his literally horizons and forge new relationships.
“All the ladies in the club are great people and definitely good friends,” he said.
Mitchell is not the only Patriot with experience being a children’s book author. Tight end Martellus Bennett developed a children’s book series last year, called “Hey, A.J.!” that he expects to publish this year.
Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.