SALT LAKE CITY — Minutes before their Valentine’s Day game, the Utah Jazz took a somber note as the team recognized two Utah families who recently suffered unimaginable tragedies.
The families of Izzy Tichenor and Drayke Hardman presented Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert their 2022 NBA All-Star commemorative rings at Monday night’s game.
Izzy was 10 when she took her own life in November. Twelve-year-old Drayke from Tooele died by suicide just days ago on Thursday. Both families said their children were bullied at school.
The Tichenor family presented Mitchell his ring, and the Hardmans gave Gobert his.
The Hardmans said Drayke was the “biggest Utah Jazz fan.” On Saturday, his parents told FOX 13 News how much he loved the team and Rudy Gobert.
“With Rudy Gobert, Drayke just wanted to hug him. ‘I just want to hug his knees,’” said Samie Hardman. “That’s what he said. He said, ‘I just want to hug Gobert so I can hug his knees.’”
The loss of Izzy and Drayke has certainly shaken the Utah community. Child and family psychologist Dr. Douglas Goldsmith said Utah has always had high numbers of children and teens with suicidal feelings and behavior, but said these recent cases among younger ages are not common.
“This is shocking by the ages that we’re seeing. I think it’s also telling us that these children are, through some means, and sometimes that’s social media, hearing and discovering ways to do very serious self-harm,” he said.
Drayke’s dad, Andy, tweeted at the star players last week and shared his son’s story.
Mitchell responded on Twitter, writing, “This is so heartbreaking man!! Im praying for you and your family!! If anyone has the families info please send it ASAP!! #doitfordrayke.”
Jordan Clarkson also responded to Andy’s tweet, saying, “sorry for your loss man” followed by an emoji of a broken heart.
Gobert and Joe Ingles both donated $4,527 dollars to the family's GoFundMe. The specific number is a combination of Drayke’s two favorite players — the “45” is Mitchell’s jersey number and the “27” is Gobert’s.