If there’s one thing that Donovan Mitchell believes wholeheartedly, it’s that teachers make the world go round!

The NBA player is the product of an educator. So, he witnessed firsthand the role that teachers play in society. Now, he’s joined Clorox’s mission to give back to those who have dedicated their time to transforming lives through education. 

He explains how the move is a cause that’s near and dear to him. 

“It means the world to me because my mom is a teacher, and we were at the same school for most of my early years. So, I grew a fond appreciation for teachers through that,” he said during an interview with AfroTech. “Seeing her work through quarantine and seeing how much time and effort was put into her craft and what she did, like spending money out of her own pocket made me go ‘man, I can only imagine what most teachers are doing on the day to day.’”

According to research conducted by the Clorox® brand, 70 percent of teachers had to teach without the supplies needed during the past school year and 82 percent plan for personal spending on school supplies to go up this year compared to last.

With this in mind, Clorox will continue its mission to support teachers with a $1 million donation to DonorsChoose. Funds will be used to provide classrooms with basics — from notebooks to disinfecting wipes and everything in between to ensure that educators can create safe spaces for their students to learn.

“At Clorox, we value the extraordinary effort and sacrifices teachers nationwide have made to navigate this challenging past school year which is why we look to celebrate and give back to superhero teachers again this year,” said Tad Kittredge, Vice President of Cleaning at The Clorox Company in an official statement. “Through our $1,000,000 donation to DonorsChoose, we are committed to supporting teachers so they can return to the classroom equipped with necessary supplies for a successful and safe year ahead.”

The Impact Of Donovan Mitchell's Mother On His Education

“I had to be on point,” Mitchell chuckled as he explained that most of his earlier teachers knew his mother, which in turn meant that he had to be on his A-game. “As I got older, my grades started to progressively get better and I started to understand the importance of school. I’ve shared that I was not the best student coming up, but I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is the life lessons that came with having an educator in my household.”

Mitchell says that having an educator as a mother allowed him to develop more appreciation not only for her, but for all teachers.

“I definitely appreciate my mother and [all] teachers as well, because they teach kids these valuable lessons,” he continued. “They [also] give you a different voice that sometimes is exactly what a kid needs to hear in life.”

Teachers That Made A Difference In Donovan Mitchell's Life

Although his education helped shaped him, there were certain years in grade school that had a tremendous impact on his life.

“For me to be this far removed from third, fourth, and fifth grade and to still remember those three teachers really speaks to everything,” he said. “I think you can go to any kid and say ‘who’s your favorite teacher? And why? And they’ll give you a reason.’”

The 25-year-old also explained that while he may not have understood what lessons they were trying to teach him at that moment, it definitely resonated with him further along in his journey.

Donovan Mitchell On The Importance Of Education

Mitchell has played four seasons for the NBA’s Utah Jazz and attributes a lot of his success to those teachers who paved the way for him. He encourages other athletes to remember that while basketball is great, it isn’t the end all be all.

“I think the longest career in basketball is [about] 22 [or] 23 years, and then it’s like ‘now, what do you do?’ [Your brain] will get you way further than basketball,” he said. “Basketball will get you to great places, don’t get me wrong, I’m very blessed to be in this position, but I understand that after I’m done playing, education is what’s going to take me far the rest of my life.”

He also said education is what will help you develop those skills that are needed off of the court.

“Understand that, yes, sports are great, but how do you know what is being talked about in a contract? That’s school,” he continued. “Everything you do revolves around school and will take you everywhere in life, not just sports. You can be a doctor, an engineer, a writer, an artist — there are so many different paths that you can take just by understanding that without school, you’re closing your opportunity window.”

From now until Sept. 15, you can join in on Clorox and Donovan Mitchell’s efforts to support teachers and earn the chance to win $5,000 for your own back-to-school shopping needs. You can also designate a superhero teacher to win $5,000 from Clorox.