SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Nobody really knows what it is like to walk in Donovan Mitchell’s shoes.
But one special Jazz fan used Mitchell’s newly released basketball shoes to take some very important steps.
Aiden Johnson was born two months premature with scoliosis. His spine had curved so much, the 13-year-old boy, who also is autistic, needed spinal fusion surgery.
“Instead of growing up, his spine was growing out to the side,” Aiden’s father, Joseph said from his home in Spring Creek, Nevada. “So the curvature got to the point where the doctors were concerned about his internal organs and how much room there was for his heart and for his lungs.”
But through a four-week stay at Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City, Aiden kept his spirits high.
“The biggest thing about Aiden is his attitude,” Joseph said. “He never complained the whole time we were stuck in the hospital. He’s just a real happy, positive person.”
So when it came time to take his first steps after the surgery last week, Joseph had an idea. He wanted to get Donovan Mitchell’s newly released D.O.N. #1 Issue basketball shoes to inspire Aiden to walk again.
“I thought, well, it’s worth a shot,” Joseph explained. “Get him some shoes and see if that would help him to want to get out of bed and take those steps.
What did Aiden, who is a big Donovan Mitchell fan, think when he saw the shoes?
“They were awesome,” Aiden said.
With a newly reconstructed spine, Aiden basically had to learn how to walk again. After taking his first steps without a walker in “Spida” Mitchell’s shoes, Aiden was feeling good enough to make a declaration.
“I am Spida Man!” he said.
“He wouldn’t let us take the shoes off,” Joseph said. “He wanted to sleep in his shoes. As a dad, seeing your kid take those steps, it’s the best thing in the world.”
Mitchell, who was overseas promoting the release of his signature shoe, saw the video and responded on Twitter, saying, “This was the coolest thing I have ever seen! You have a fan in Me “Spider-Man. I’ll make sure you have multiple shoes to walk around in.”
“It was awesome that he would take time to acknowledge that Aiden had done something good,” Joseph said. “If I had a chance to talk to him, I would just tell him as a father how much I appreciate the role model that he is. Just being genuinely kind and considerate. There are multiple incidents of things that he’s done that just make me proud to support the team.”
And if Aiden gets to meet Donovan at a game one day, what would he say to him?
“He’s awesome,”. Aiden said.
Mitchell’s D.O.N. shoes stand for “Determination Over Negativity.” That seems to be an appropriate slogan to sum up both Donovan Mitchell and Aiden Johnson.