CHICAGO — On Sunday night, Donovan Mitchell will wear the uniform of an NBA All-Star for the first time. On Friday afternoon, the Utah Jazz guard was honored to be wearing a hairnet and a plastic apron.

“There were days [growing up] when food was tough, or clothes were tough,” Mitchell said while boxing produce at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. “For me, being able to give back it really hits home. … Being able to remember there were days I didn’t have, there are days people don’t have.”

Mitchell and his All-Star teammate Rudy Gobert will take time this weekend to revel in their earned riches, first-time invitees at the NBA’s biggest party—but first, the star duo wanted to remember their roots and give back.

“My journey here, I wasn’t expected to be here, “Mitchell said. “So I’m always wanting to give back.”

Gobert started his All-Star Weekend experience at Navy Pier, playing hoops with children from Chicago’s public schools, teaching them how one of the league’s best rebounders cleans the glass, and showing them the importance of defense.

“To me, it’s the most important thing to be able to inspire the next generation,” Gobert said. “It makes me remember that a few years ago I was one of those kids, dreaming to become an NBA player. … Being able to be an example and an inspiration, it means everything.”

The 7-footer with 996 career blocks also swatted more than a few of their shots.

“I think they’ll remember those forever,” a grinning Gobert said. “You have to teach them early that nothing is easy, in basketball and life. I try not to give them too many shortcuts. Be out there and make them work for it.”

Mitchell was smiling, too, as he thought about how the food he packed on Friday would be in someone’s kitchen by Monday.

Doing something like this brings joy to my heart because you’re fulfilling a need,” he said.


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