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Jazz star Donovan Mitchell to deliver University of Utah’s 2021 commencement address



NBA All-Star Donovan Mitchell will deliver the keynote address for the University of Utah’s 2021 general commencement the school announced Tuesday.

“Donovan Mitchell is a favorite of basketball fans and our community because of his commitment to excellence, education and social justice,” U of U President Ruth V. Watkins said. “He shows by example what one person can do to influence the lives of countless others and how to step forward to advocate for change with grace and goodwill.”

A virtual campus-wide commencement is scheduled for May 6 at, the university’s livestream channel. In-person convocations are scheduled for May 5 – 8.

Mitchell was awarded the NBA Cares Community Assist Award in January, in recognition of his commitment to social justice and educational access.

“I’m honored to receive the NBA Community Assist Award. We, as athletes, have a responsibility to do our part to give back to our communities and raise the bar for the next generation,” Mitchell said.

Not too long ago I was one of those kids that looked up to professional athletes, and I recognize how blessed I am to be in this position to give back to the multiple communities that have contributed to my growth not only as an athlete but as a person. My goal is to continue to inspire and encourage youth, from coast to coast with an emphasis on the importance of education.

He also donated $12 million to Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut. He was a student there where his mother was a teacher. The donation was to be partially for a scholarship fund for low-income students, to help with faculty and provide a new gym for the school. He also donated proceeds from his his sneaker contract with his “A Shoe For Change” to provide opportunities for Black students at the University of Louisville.

Mitchell was a vocal part of the social justice movement by NBA players in 2020, calling for social justice, including during a player walkout. When the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor when a Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot and killed in their city by police, three NBA games were postponed, which spread to other games. The boycott was joined by other sports leagues, including Utah’s MLS team Real Salt Lake. When owner Dell Loy Hansen was critical of his team’s decision not to play, Mitchell took to Twitter and told him to sell the team.

“He is a role model in every sense of the word, and I know his comments will be a light for many,” Ephraim K. Kum, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah said.

Mitchell has been vocal about education and supportive of the Utah Jazz scholarship efforts this season, awarding educational opportunities in the state with each win.

“For me, the biggest thing was education. We’re at a place in the world where people aren’t as informed as they should be. And where do you learn? You learn in school,” he told

Mitchell played basketball for the University of Louisville and was drafted 13th by the Utah Jazz in 2017. He was an immediate fan favorite and became an NBA All-Star. Currently the Utah Jazz have the best record in the NBA.

“The commencement speaker is invited by the president in consultation with students, trustees and the administration,” according to a press release from the university. “When choosing a commencement speaker, the committee looks for someone who will resonate with the graduating class, set a celebratory tone and bring honor to the U.”

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