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Donovan Mitchell found tremendous success during his five seasons with the Utah Jazz, but has taken his game to a new level since joining the Cleveland Cavaliers. While the Cavs’ playing style and the teammates around him are helping, so to are the culture and people off the court.
Mitchell and the Cavs welcomed his old team to Cleveland on Monday and the 26-year-old led his team in scoring with 23 points en route to a 122-99 win.
Prior to the game, Mitchell reflected on his experience being a black man living in Salt Lake City and talked about how “draining” it was dealing with race and societal issues in a place that is predominantly white.
Mitchell was a vocal advocate for teaching critical race theory in Utah schools in 2021.
“I never really said this, but it was draining,” Mitchell said. “It was just draining on my energy just because you can’t sit in your room and cheer for me and then do all these different things.”
“I’m not saying specifically every fan, but I just feel like it was a lot of things. A [Utah] state senator [Stuart Adams] saying I need to get educated on my own Black history. Seeing Black kids getting bullied because of their skin color. Seeing a little girl [Isabella Tichenor] hang herself because she’s being bullied.”
“Man, it was just one thing after another. And I will say, it’s not the only place it happens.”
Donovan Mitchell Happy To Be In Cleveland
Mitchell described a specific instance when he was pulled over by a cop – for an unknown reason – and received some “attitude” from the officer.
“But as far as Utah, it became a lot to have to deal with on a nightly basis. I got pulled over once. I got an attitude from a cop until I gave him my ID. And that forever made me wonder what happens to the young Black kid in Utah that doesn’t have that power to just be like, ‘This is who I am.’ And that was one of the things for me that I took to heart.”
All of that is in the past now for Mitchell, who is just happy to see more “people that look like me” in Cleveland and at Cavaliers’ games.