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OSU basketball player surprised with scholarship during Walmart shift: 'It means the world'

Emerald Pellot
·2-min read

An Oklahoma State University (OSU) basketball player got a surprise scholarship during his work shift at Walmart.

In 2019, Dee Mitchell’s dream came true when he made the OSU Cowboys as a walk-on. A walk-on player is one who makes the team without being recruited or receiving a scholarship.

Last year, Mitchell’s family in Texas was hit hard by the pandemic. His mother is a traveling nurse and the family took a financial hit. The Cowboys coach Mike Boynton agreed to let Mitchell work full-time at Walmart and participate with the team when he could.

But on Jan. 17, 2021, Boynton surprised Mitchell at his job with life-changing news: Mitchell earned a scholarship. The player had no idea Boynton and the entire Cowboys team (on Zoom) were there to tell him.

“I thought today was a great opportunity to let him know that he’s going to be on scholarship,” Boynton announced in a room full of Mitchell’s coworkers.

Mitchell keeled over in shock and tears. The room burst into applause.

“Nobody has exemplified what I want our program to mean more than you have,” Boynton told Mitchell. “You worked your butt off. You never complain, you show up for everything, you come early, you stay late. To do what you did this semester, to sacrifice and continue to come around… You earned this man.”

The first thing the student did in the video did was call his mother, who was of course, ecstatic.

“It means the world,” Mitchell said told the Oklahoman. “You know, helping out my family, taking that burden off of them with tuition and everything. I just appreciate it.”

Mitchell was on the basketball team while working 30 to 40 hours a week and taking 19 hours of classes. His days would often start with a workout at 6 a.m. and end after his Walmart shift at 10 p.m.

“What Dee Mitchell has lasts forever,” Boynton told the Oklahoman. “He’s got resilience, perseverance, great attitude, unbelievable work ethic, respectful.”

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