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Utah Jazz rookies discuss close impact of Florida school shooting

SALT LAKE CITY — At 20 and 21 years old respectively, Utah Jazz rookies Tony Bradley and Donovan Mitchell have grown up hearing of seemingly regular school shootings around the country.

The latest, which took place on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkview, Florida, where at least 17 people were killed, affected the 2017 first-round draft picks quite personally. Bradley grew up in Bartow, Florida, about two-and-a-half hours north of Parkland, while Mitchell’s mother is a nursery school teacher.

On Wednesday night during the Jazz’s 107-97 victory over the Phoenix Suns at Vivint Arena, Mitchell wore shoes in which he had written “Pray For Parkland” on one and “End Gun Violence” on the other.

Asked after the game what his motivation behind the message was, Mitchell noted in an eloquent response that he was just a short distance from Sandy Hook, Connecticut, five years ago when a shooting took place at an elementary school there.

“It’s kind of scary that could happen at any moment anywhere. I think that’s just one of the things that kind of hit home with me,” he said, adding that he sat in disbelief at his locker before Wednesday’s game upon seeing footage on Snapchat of what happened earlier in the day. “My prayers go out to all those families, man. It’s tough. It’s crazy.

We’ve definitely got to do something about it. A lot of people, we talk about it, and there’s a lot of so-called awareness of it, but there’s nothing being’s interesting how it just continues to happen over and over again and the movement doesn’t really do much. Just the fact that it’s happening in the schools is one thing that’s just like, 'Man.'"

Bradley noted that things such as bomb threats happened while he was in high school, but he was still in shock Wednesday to learn of the shooting.

“It’s crazy,” he said, adding that he’ll spend the All-Star break at home. “It’s just just don’t know why a person would do that, at a school especially with students like that. I don’t know. Pretty sad.”

A third Jazz rookie, two-way player Erik McCree, grew up in Orlando, about 30 minutes outside of Parkland. He was with Utah Wednesday night but was unavailable for comment after the game.