During his first few years in the NBA, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has become known for entrenching himself in the community — attending college football games, high school events, even random fans’ Fourth of July barbecues. He found a way to do it again Saturday, even as he was participating in the Jazz’s live-streamed practice at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus.
Mitchell eschewed his typical No. 45 and was wearing a No. 22 practice jersey in tribute to late University of Utah football players Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan, who both donned that number for the Utes.
“I wanted to pay my respects,” Mitchell said afterward. “… I’m not gonna switch my number, it’s just that the Utes and all of Utah have paid their respects, to not just Aaron but Ty as well. I just wanted to pay my respects in my own way. That was the premise of it.”
Lowe was shot and killed in the early hours of Sept. 26 at a house party. His death is being investigated as a homicide.
He was a high school teammate of Jordan at West Mesquite High School in Texas, and was named the first recipient of the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship on Aug. 31. Lowe switched from wearing jersey No. 2 to 22 this year in tribute to Jordan.
Jordan died this past Christmas of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Mitchell’s tribute caught the attention of Utah football players both past and present, with current redshirt freshman cornerback LaCarea Pleasant Johnson, and ex-Ute and current L.A. Rams defensive back Terrell Burgess among those thanking him for the acknowledgement.