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Jazz players step up and speak out against bullying

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Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert, right, and Donovan Mitchell and answer questions during Jazz Media Day at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A recent incident involving a Utah County teenager has prompted two Utah Jazzmen and the organization to stand up against bullying.

Last week, KSL News reported on incidents of vandalism directed toward Luc Holdaway and his family who reside in Pleasant Grove. The family said there have been various incidents over the years, including being called the n-word (Luc was adopted from Haiti), as was reported by KSL TV. More recently, the teen’s car had been covered with manure while he was visiting a friend. His father said numerous police reports have been filed but the culprits have not been identified.

On learning of the situation, Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell reached out in support of Holdaway on social media, with Gobert providing tickets to a Jazz game and Mitchell texting the 17-year-old directly.

Speaking after the team’s gameday shootaround Monday at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus, Mitchell said this is an opportunity to show everyone in the community that bullying should not be tolerated.

“Being able to just show him that there is support, because that should never happen to a kid or any person in general,” he said. “For me, I try to speak to everyone I can who’s been through that, just understanding that if you feel that way, feel free to reach out to myself or anybody because I don’t think that’s cool. I don’t think it’s right because at the end of the day, we’re all the same.”

The Jazz will host Holdaway at tonight’s game versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Mitchell said he hopes the team’s efforts to show support gives a strong message to the community that all people should be treated respectfully.

“I think that’s one thing we really want to focus on in this world, being able to bring peace and joy as opposed to running people into the ground,” Mitchell said.

Guard Mike Conley touted his teammates’ efforts to raise awareness about bullying and said he experienced some bullying as a kid himself.

“I think anybody who’s grown up has been through a spell where they’ve gotten bullied at some point in life. I’ve always been a smaller person so being a shorty, you seem to get bullied by older people or guys who are bigger than you so it is a real thing,” he explained. “I think that it’s not something to crack jokes about and make fun of. Kids everywhere need to understand that we all feel their pain and we’re behind them.”