Monday, March 2, 2009


Abraham "Ham" Mitchell of Suffolk, Virginia, is known at the annual Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball tourney as Mr. CIAA. has become a fixture of the conference’s season-ending tournaments. He has been strolling the sidelines for more than 25 years now.

“I started years ago when my nephew was at Norfolk State University, and I always dressed up when I went to games,” he said.

Sometimes, “Mr. CIAA” changes eight to nine times a night. But no matter what he’s wearing, he’s an instantly recognizable figure.

"I supply my own outfits. I never had a sponsor," said Mitchell. "A couple times, I had people ask to sponsor me, but I didn't want my clothes from a regular store."

People stop him and take pictures as he strolls through the arena during the games, and you can only guess how old he might be.

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