Cheatham graduated from Phillips High School. He played for the University of Southern Mississippi's Golden Eagles from 1972 to 1975 and was hired by head coach Bobby Collins as a linebackers coach after graduating, becoming the first African-American assistant at any Mississippi college. He left in 1989 to return to Birmingham and spent his entire 30-year head coaching career at Wenonah, where he complied a 172-136 win-loss record and claimed four area titles. His 1995 team was undefeated during the regular season. The Dragons reached the AHSAA's 5A Championship game in 2016.
- Bean, Josh (June 8, 2019) "End of an era: Wenonah looking for football coach for first time since 1989." The Birmingham News