In a heartfelt op-ed in The Players’ Tribune, Utah Jazz Point Guard Donovan Mitchell is Urging his fans to get on board with the Black Lives Matter movement. The article published on Wednesday also recalls an incident where being an athlete could have saved his life.
As a student-athlete at Louisville, Mitchell details an incident where he and three teammates were pulled over by a White police officer.
“The officer is questioning us about what we’re doing, and where we’re going, and it felt like there was going to be a problem, and then he’s looking at our clothes… He literally says, ‘The only reason why I’m letting you go is because I love your coach.’ We were all wearing Louisville gear,” Mitchell writes.
The 3rd year star player defines his Louisville clothing as his “armor” in certain neighborhoods whether it’s dealing with police or just walking around crime-filled areas. “That was my Spider-Man costume that I couldn’t forget every time I left the house.”
As a player for the Utah Jazz, Mitchell has been forced to witness the oftentimes racial hostility the fans have had against his Black opponents. This was most present when the Jazz faced the Oklahoma City Thunder last season and a fan told Russell Westbrook to “get down on his knees” like he used to. That fan was banned for life from Jazz games.
Following this incident, scrutiny had been placed on the fans of Utah s other athletes admitted to being subject to racist attacks when traveling to Vivint Smart Home Arena. Now in 2020 as the country gripes with the death of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery as well as related nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, Mitchell is directly addressing his fans who may have been a party to racial tension in the state he now calls home as a pro athlete.
“At the end of the day, if you rock my jersey, then you should know what I stand for. You should know what’s on my heart,” Mitchell writes in the article. And what’s on my heart, after five long, surreal, difficult months, is this… if you’re rocking my jersey while we’re going for the title do me a favor and don’t just shout out my name. If you’re rocking my jersey, shout out, ‘Justice for Breonna Taylor.'”