SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell will be the first person to tell you he's been blessed. The Utah Jazz star's ability on the basketball court came from natural talent and a tireless work ethic. His brain, though, can be credited to his mother.
Nicole Mitchell, who has been in the education system in some capacity since Donovan was born, understood how knowledge could help someone going from one level to the next. That's why Donovan and his sister, Jordan, both went to Greenwich Country Day School, which currently has a tuition of $41,650 or more per student, and Brewster Academy, which lists its tuition at $67,400 for the 2020-21 school year.
Scholarships offset some of those costs, but the message was clear: Nicole wanted her family to have every advantage they could. Now, her son wants that for everyone else, too.
It was that issue that Donovan Mitchell pressed vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris on in a video released Tuesday of a roundtable discussion that also featured Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris.
"I went to private school and public schools, so I've seen the two different Americas in this world," Mitchell said to Harris. "There are some friends I went to private school with who have no idea what's happening 45 minutes away in the projects in certain areas, no idea how certain people live and vice versa.
"I'm 24 and there are people way older than me who don't even know what Juneteenth is or Black Wall Street — and I'm informing them," he continued. "I always wonder, if we want to get to the ultimate goal of equality — whether it's through education or (overcoming) systemic racism or voter suppression, whatever it is — the best thing we can do is inform. There's no way a kid in the Bronx shouldn't receive the same education, because of where he goes to school, as a kid in Connecticut. So, what is the Biden/Harris plan to help that?"
Harris applauded the question saying it was one of the "most important issues" and needs to be addressed immediately.
Harris acknowledged there was a problem in how public schools were funded and told Mitchell of her and presidential hopeful Joe Biden's plan to correct it.
"We fund public schools based on the tax base of that community. Well, that's completely upside down," Harris said. "That doesn't make any sense. Because the schools that are getting the lowest amount of funding are in the communities that have the highest need. So part of what we're gonna do also is called Title I funding — basically, the funding that goes to low-income schools, we're gonna triple it."
Harris said she and Biden would invest "in the health of America" by using funds to address the root of the issues that are plaguing poor communities and not just the symptoms.
"You go to any upper-middle-class suburb in America, you will not see the kind of police presence that you'll see in other communities, but what you will see: well-funded public schools, high rates of homeownership, access to capital for small businesses, affordable health care and affordable mental health care. Healthy communities are safe communities."
The conversation between the four participants touched on other topics ranging from voting to police brutality.
"No voice is too little, and I think the great thing about the (NBA) is we were making a huge push to go out and vote, focusing on education, finding ways to at least inform and give back to the community," Mitchell said. "My mom being a teacher, she's instilled that in me."