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Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell signs autographs following the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, July 5, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rick Bowmer, AP Photo

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell donates $12 million to his former day school

By Ryan Miller, | Posted - Dec. 4, 2020 at 7:42 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell said he wanted to give back in a bigger way. It took him a grand total of a week to live up to those words.

On Friday, Greenwich Country Day — the school the Utah Jazz star attended from third grade to ninth grade — announced a $12 million gift from Mitchell and his family (mother Nicole and sister Jordan). It's the largest single donation ever given to the school. The money will go toward a new athletic center, student scholarships and a faculty recognition program.

"I know how lucky I have been to have the foundation of my education happen here at Country Day," Mitchell said. "This school has shaped who I am in so many ways, and I feel blessed to be able to give back and make the Country Day experience available for more kids, especially those from inner-city neighborhoods or with backgrounds like mine."

The private day school is pricey (tuition can climb as high as $46,950). His mother worked at the school and he earned scholarships to help offset some of the costs. He knows not every kid has access to those same opportunities.

"I went to private school and public schools, so I've seen the two different Americas in this world," Mitchell said during a roundtable with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in October. "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."

He said he wants top education to be available to more kids. Friday's gift helps pave a way for that to happen. The Mitchell Family Scholarship Fund will provide need-based aid for students in all grades — giving kids who may not be able to afford the school a way to still attend.

"Over the past few years on my NBA journey, I have made it my mission to champion the causes of equity, social justice and equal opportunity, especially in education," Mitchell said. "There is no better school anywhere to carry forward this mission and my family is excited to make this happen."

Along with the scholarship fund, the $12 million donation will go toward creating the Nicole Mitchell Faculty Support Fund — a yearly monetary award presented to a teacher in each division at the school. The D.O.N.! (Determination Over Negativity) Mitchell Family Athletic Center will also be built.

Last Friday, after signing what he called a "life-changing" contract extension with the Utah Jazz, Mitchell said he was eager to do more to help people. He's already done so many random acts of kindness — given shoes away, donated backpacks, paid for a phone repair, paid for groceries, paid for a friends' schooling — but now he has the means to make a difference to many more.

"I'm in a position now where I can do things on a higher level, as far as giving to kids maybe going to colleges who can't afford it, giving back to schools, giving back to kids who can't even afford groceries or different things, so I think that's really what my focus is at," Mitchell said.

And it wasn't just nice words. A week later, he proved it.

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