SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Although the Utah Jazz were hours away from tipping off their home game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, two of the team’s most vocal youth advocates voiced their feelings on the death of a bullied child in North Salt Lake.
“It’s mind boggling,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said while addressing the media following the morning shootaround session. “It’s sad. It’s just flat-out disgusting.”
The death of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor, who committed suicide last weekend as a result of what her family believes was bullying based on her skin tone and learning disabilities, struck a chord with Mitchell, who earlier had remarked on the incident on his Twitter account.
A frequent do-gooder among youth and arguably one of the most popular figures among young people in Utah, Mitchell stood by the statements he tweeted. He felt so passionate about the tragic end to Tichenor’s life, his feelings on the matter took up the entirety of his time speaking with the press on Thursday.
Outrage over reports that Tichenor had reported her bullying to no avail, was a central theme of Mitchell’s statements.
“No one did anything,” Mitchell, whose mother works as a teacher, said incredulously. “She was an autistic, black child and girl. Like I said on Twitter, our job especially in education reform, is to inspire and teach our youth to grow to be better people than we are.”
Mitchell also stated he plans on reaching out to Tichenor’s family to offer his support as they continue to search for answers and measures to create change.
The All-Star guard wasn’t the only Jazzman to speak exclusively about the ordeal on Thursday. Swingman sharpshooter, Joe Ingles, whose son, Jacob, has autism, also spoke soberly about the Tichenors, who he was able to connect with on Wednesday.
“I spoke to Brittany, the mom yesterday for about an hour on the phone and just talking about experiences and obviously with Jacob and our fears of him going to school, and potentially getting bullied,” Ingles recalled of his interaction with the grieving family.”Hearing her speak and explain some situations and talk through what is it has been like through the last, however long, is legitimately heartbreaking when you hear it from her mother.”
Ingles continued to add that the Tichenors have the team’s complete support, even stating he will use his platform as a well-regarded public figure and advocate for children with autism to speak with school officials about what happened to Izzy and what needs to change in the future.
“I promised her that I’m going to do everything in my power from this day forward to make sure we can make a change in that space, and not just in Utah,” Ingles stated.
“No kid, regardless of a special need or race or color, or religion or whatever it is, deserves to be able to go to school and learn and play on the playground and do what every kid wants to do at school, have fun with their friends,” Ingles said.
The Jazz’s Thursday night home game against Indiana begins at 7 p.m. at Vivint Arena.