FORT WAYNE — Greg Mitchell was an advocate for the youth of Fort Wayne, including his own 15 kids. Three of his sons are on the Wayne boys basketball team, and his June death hit the community and his boys Levi, Justin and Jescus pretty hard.
“We just stayed close, be tight and supported each other,” Jescus said. “It has been tough, but we have been able to come through. You don’t take everything for granted, and you learn to appreciate everything more.”
Mitchell, 58, was shot in his house June 2. Police have not named a suspect or made an arrest.
He worked at youth centers and with other organizations to help kids find their way through sports and other activities.
“We were real close when it happened, but people wanted to hang around us more and spend more time with us,” Levi said of the support received by the Mitchell family. “They did stuff for us, and I appreciate it. I was hurt, and it helped me get more stable.”
The three Mitchell brothers are juniors at Wayne Justin and Jescus are twins, and Levi skipped a grade.
“Now our family takes more consideration for what our dad wanted for us, basketball- and education-wise,” Levi said. “This situation has helped me realize you have to take life more seriously and get things done quicker because you never know.
“My dad had a big impact on the community. He would pick up kids off the street just sitting there and have them do something positive with their life, like dancing or something.”
Mitchell taught his 15 kids about life, and sports was one of the things he used to help educate his children.
“He taught us everything we know,” said Justin, who said his father was a decent basketball player.
“He was really big on us playing basketball. He wanted the best for us and be the best people we could be.”
For the Mitchells, there have been other sports and activities, like swimming and football, but it has been mainly basketball since they started playing at the Old Fort YMCA years ago.
“He got us into basketball because he loved the game so much,” Jescus said. “We just developed a love for the game, and we keep playing.”
Justin averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists last year for the Generals and earned All-SAC first-team honors. Jescus averaged 3.6 points, 1.3 assists and 1 steal. Levi is a newcomer to the varsity this year.
Wayne coach Aaron Rehrer said there’s a good possibility all three will be in the starting lineup together at times.
“We just work hard in everything we do and hopefully win,” Justin said of dedicating the season to their father’s memory. “We will just dedicate a win to him whenever we win and go out there and work hard because that’s what he would expect.
“We grew up playing together, so our team chemistry will be a lot better than what it used to be. We always argue about who is the best, no matter what we do. It’s always a competition between us.”