Boston Celtics mascot Kit Ackerman reveals the path to becoming Lucky the Leprechaun
Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Kit Ackerman played baseball, ran track and watched a lot of basketball. Acrobatics never crossed his mind until his senior year of high school, when teammates recommended he try out for cheerleading. “I learned to do a backflip in about a day. I really fell in love with performing and the athletic challenge of gymnastics,” says Ackerman.
A natural talent, Ackerman won a cheerleading scholarship to the University of Memphis. After a shoulder injury took him out of cheering, Ackerman became the team’s mascot while he recovered to keep his scholarship. “I put on the costume and I fell in love with it. I did everything I could to meet people in the industry,” Ackerman recalls. “Next thing I knew I was talking to Rich Gotham, the president of the Celtics, and he was offering me a job. No pun intended, it was all pretty lucky. I couldn’t have planned for it if I tried.”
These days, Ackerman is Lucky the Leprechaun on and off the court, performing at home games and hundreds of community events, in addition to coaching the Celtics’ acrobatic Green Team and JetBlue Flight Crew dunk team. It’s a demanding schedule, yet Ackerman doesn’t mind. “Getting that high five from a little kid after a dunk show in an elementary school is every bit as rewarding as getting that dunk on court in front of 18,000 people. When you see firsthand the impact you can have, even something as simple as jumping on a trampoline—I love what I do, but on top of it, my job makes me feel good about what I do.”
Surprising for a Memphis native, Ackerman grew up watching the Celtics with his father. “One of my earliest memories is watching Dee Brown win the dunk championship in ’91, sitting on the couch between my dad and my grandfather.” On the couch is where you’ll find Ackerman most St. Patrick’s Days, one of the only days he has off. “I guess everyone thinks I’m booked because no one bothers to call me,” Ackerman laughs, happy to relax with his wife and dogs. While Lucky counts his hat as his good luck charm, Ackerman’s is a picture of his mother. “She was the voice that told me to follow my own path.” That his path led him to Boston is a constant source of awe. “Whether it was luck or fate, somehow I ended up here.”
TD Garden, 100 Legends Way, 866-4CELTIX, nba.com/celtics