Oklahoma State Cowboys basketball star Dee Mitchell got a huge surprise during his recent afternoon shift break at Walmart as a produce stocker.
Mitchell’s coach, Mike Boynton, commandeered a team video-call meeting to tell the college junior he had earned a basketball scholarship.
Boynton called ahead to Mitchell’s Stillwater Walmart manager to approve the Jan. 17 surprise, which occurred two years to the day since Mitchell joined the basketball team; the day also happened to be his birthday, reported CBS Sports.
Upon receiving the news, Mitchell buried his head in his hands, later telling CBS Sports, “This means everything to me. I didn’t know what was going on. It was a real surprise.”
“It was breathtaking. It felt like I was in a movie or something.”
Mitchell’s co-workers, and his teammates via Zoom, rallied to congratulate him.
Yet when the Walmart manager offered her stunned employee the rest of the night off, Mitchell declined. “No ma’am. The bananas need restocking,” he said, according to CBS Sports.
Coach Boynton described the afternoon as “incredible.” “Very rarely am I emotional. This one almost got me,” he added.
The scholarship will last for the remainder of Mitchell’s Oklahoma State University career.
Mitchell, a junior guard, first stated his intention to join the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the fall of 2018 by striding into Boynton’s office and asking for a tryout, reported CBS Sports. It wasn’t until January 2019 that spots became available, but Boynton remembered Mitchell’s name.
Mitchell was enlisted as a walk-on and quickly earned a reputation as one to watch. Boynton renewed him for another year, during which time Mitchell started a game against Houston due to illness and injury among rostered players.
Oklahoma walked away victorious.
By fall 2020, however, the picture looked different. Mitchell’s mother lost her job amid the pandemic, and Mitchell, wanting to complete his degree in Sports and Coaching Science, needed to find a job of his own.
Boynton assured the young star of his place on the team, even though Mitchell considered quitting.
According to CBS Sports, the young player’s new weekly routine comprised getting up at 6 a.m. for team workouts, attending 15 hours of college classes, and working 40 hours stocking produce for Walmart for $12 an hour. Mitchell ended the semester with five A grades and one B.
In moving footage of Mitchell’s scholarship reveal, shared on Twitter, Boynton praised his player for working hard and never complaining.
(Courtesy of Oklahoma State University)
“Nobody has exemplified what I want our program to mean more than you have,” Boynton said.
Mitchell expressed his admiration for “Coach Mike” to CBS Sports, saying, “I plan on being someone like him in the future, hopefully touching people the way he touches them.”
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