Donovan Mitchell has dazzled throughout his rookie season with custom shoe designs. But the statement he wanted to make Wednesday night carried a much more somber tone, written in black marker along the sides of his golden Dame 4s.
On one side: “PRAY FOR PARKLAND.” On the other: “END GUN VIOLENCE.”
It was a powerful message in the wake of yet another school shooting, one which claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where a 19-year-old gunman engineered one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history with a semi-automatic rifle.
The shooting struck a chord throughout the country, but particularly with Mitchell. His mother, Nicole, is a school teacher. When 20 children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, Mitchell was attending school not far away.
Donovan Mitchell with a pretty heartfelt explanation of why he wrote “Pray For Parkland” on his shoes tonight. He’s more affected by school shootings because his mom is a teacher who worked near Newtown when the 2012 shooting happened. pic.twitter.com/mBB2JyK4gS— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) February 15, 2018
“I’m not saying all shootings don’t make me feel some way, but especially school shootings,” he said postgame. “It’s scary that can happen to anyone anywhere. And that’s kinda one of the things that hit home to me.”
Mitchell said he watched a video of one of the students at the school screaming during the shooting, and he spent several minutes processing it before he suited up to face the Suns.
While Mitchell said he would send his prayers to the victims and their families, he wished for more substantive change to occur. He noted that the weapon used in the shooting was similar to other weapons used in other mass shootings, including Orlando and Las Vegas in the years since Sandy Hook.
“It’s interesting how it just continues to happen,” he said, “and we really don’t do much.”
It’s not the first time Mitchell has made a social statement with his shoes. He also wore Martin Luther King Jr.-themed shoes during the holiday in January.