Audrey Mitchell marveled at the size of his clothes.
With almost every T-shirt and pair of shorts or pants, the 14-year-old Riverton High School student laughed and joked that she could wear them as dresses. After all, the clothes once belonged to a man much, much taller than she.
Then Mitchell pulled out a curious item from one of the drawers — a colorful pair of boxer briefs depicting a cartoon rabbit and a woman wearing a revealing rabbit costume.
“That seems very French,” Mitchell said.
Indeed it was, because it belonged to former Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Hours before Gobert was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Mitchell took home some of his game-worn clothing.
Mitchell — no relation to Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell — was among a group of 17 young people who won the opportunity to raid the lockers of Jazz players. Each earned the award by performing acts of service in their local communities. The event Thursday was held in partnership with Homie, a real estate company.
Mitchell wasn’t originally supposed to raid Gobert’s locker. She had earned the right to delve into Juancho Hernangomez’s after making a free throw on the Vivint Arena court with a ball that had a letter assigned to the “Hustle” star.
But event organizers accidentally did not assign anyone to Gobert’s locker. So, they had a group of kids play knockout for the chance to swap their original assigned locker with Gobert’s.
Mitchell finished second, but the boy who won decided not to switch. So she got Gobert, which left her “dumbfounded,” especially because Gobert is her favorite Jazz player.
“I love Rudy Gobert,” Mitchell said. “He’s the really tall one on their team, and I’m the really tall one on my team. He just is super inspirational to me.”
Three sets of items came standard in each Jazz player’s locker: game-worn gear, demarcated by the players’ numbers written black permanent marker; clothes assigned to a player but not worn during a game; and extra gear that featured the team’s old branding, which meant some of the clothing was for women as well. All the clothing left behind had been previously washed and was hung and/or folded neatly in each player’s locker.
Gobert’s boxer briefs weren’t the only quirky item uncovered when the kids rummaged through them, though. In Gobert’s combination safe was a black belt for tying together a bathrobe.
Timmy Hong, 14, got the locker of Eric Paschall, who will likely not return to the Jazz next season after the team did not extend him qualifying offer. In his locker was what was in most — warmup shirts, warmup jackets and hoodies, shorts, etc.
But what turned up in Paschall’s combination safe was a package of Advil. Hong took a photo while holding up the package.
Soni Imanizabayo, 18, moved to Utah in 2019 from Rwanda. He said he grew up watching the Jazz play, and that it was a dream come true to shoot on the court. He was assigned Donovan Mitchell’s locker, where his favorite pull was a white shooting sleeve.
“Now every time that I’m playing basketball, I have to use it,” Imanizabayo said. “I will use it every time.”
Each kid received a tour of the Jazz locker room, which just last week received new carpeting that corresponds with the team’s recent rebrand. Many of the young fans, some of whom wore Jazz jerseys, gasped as they entered, and let out comments like, “Whoa,” and “I’m so excited.”
Clint Fugal, who received Mike Conley’s locker, was almost unable to withhold his delight and incredulity as he sifted though the point guard’s clothing. Donning his Donovan Mitchell jersey, he tried on a white headband and said, “This is so cool. Oh my gosh. This is so surreal.”
When the organizers mentioned that it was nearing time to let another group of fans inside the locker room, Fugal asked, “Do we have to leave?”
Jessica Emett, 13, was at Vivint for the event in place of her sister, Samatha, who was away at yearbook camp. She wore a Conley jersey, and said he was her favorite player because “he’s a really nice person and he went a long time without getting a technical foul.”
Reagan Rhodes, 14, was part of two out-of-state families who won the experience. Rhodes is from Idaho Falls. The other family was from Kentucky.
Rhodes said her favorite player is Gobert. Though she didn’t win the game of knockout for the chance to raid his locker, she said what she will remember most from the experience is shooting on the Jazz court.
“It was so cool being on the court and being able to shoot because that’s where the all the Jazz players have shot,” Rhodes said. “It’s a cool, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
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