University of Louisville alumni Donovan Mitchell and Angel McCoughtry have teamed up to support Black college students through Mitchell’s latest basketball shoe, the Adidas D.O.N. Issue #2. Mitchell, who is entering his fourth season in the NBA, and the WNBA star teamed up with their alma mater to support current and future students at the school by donating all proceeds from the sale of the shoe to several academic initiatives and scholarships.
Proceeds from the sales of my @adidasHoops #DONISSUE2 x @GoCards shoe, up to $200,000, will go towards funding academic initiatives and scholarships for Black students at Louisville. This is A Shoe For Change, get your pair now. #createdwithadidas pic.twitter.com/kDqYUVTKLu
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) December 18, 2020
Following two unique basketball seasons in which players from both the NBA and WNBA organized and advocated for racial justice, Mitchell and McCoughtry are now looking to address racial inequality in the U.S. college education system. The U.S. student debt crisis has affected millions of graduates across the country, but Black students have been the most disproportionately impacted.
In June, Business Insider reported that Black students are not only more likely to need to take on debt for school, but Black college graduates are also nearly five times as likely to default on their loans than their white peers. According to the Brookings Institution, Black students with bachelor’s degrees owe $7,400 more student debt on average upon graduation than white grads.
“We know it’s important for [Black] kids to get the education they need,” McCoughtry told Uproxx. “We know the system is kind of tough — you have kids with $100,000 in debt coming out of college before getting a job that pays $30,000 a year. We want to change all of that.”
After working with the University of Louisville Office of Diversity and Equity, Mitchell and Adidas decided that proceeds from the sale of the D.O.N. Issue #2 will go to several academic scholarships including the Woodford R. Porter Scholarship Program, the Muhammad Ali Scholar Program, the Health and Social Justice Scholars Program and an expanded emergency fund to help increase retention rates of the impacted students, allowing them to focus on their studies and work toward graduation.
Mitchell attended Louisville from 2015 to 2017 before making the jump to the NBA, going No. 13 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. In her four years at Louisville from 2005 to 2009, McCoughtry starred for the Cardinals before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft.
Both Mitchell and McCoughtry, who initially met years ago through their connection to Louisville and have remained close friends since, plan to wear the shoe in their upcoming seasons to raise awareness for the issue.
“With my mom being a teacher and based on the values she taught me from a young age, I have always understood the importance of education, which is why adidas and I worked with my alma mater, the University of Louisville, to ensure proceeds from the Louisville colorway of D.O.N. Issue #2 would fund scholarships to support Black students,” the Utah Jazz guard said in the release.
During the 2020 WNBA season, the players’ association was highly influential and worked to develop several initiatives to fight for social justice, including the addition of Breonna Taylor’s name to the backs of players’ jerseys, the organized refusal to play as a protest against the police killing of Jacob Blake and the creation of a social justice council to continue the conversation beyond the season.
Thanks to @adidashoops and @GoCards, the proceeds from @spidadmitchell’s #DONISSUE2 Louisville shoe, up to $200,000 will go towards funding academic initiatives and scholarships for Black students at Louisville.
— Angel McCoughtry (@angel_35) December 17, 2020
When asked how the players plan to continue the push for social justice, McCoughtry invoked the memory of former Congressman John Lewis and emphasized the importance of never giving up.
“The fight never ends, the fight always is with you,” McCoughtry said. “You take it with you wherever you go.”