Tragedy struck the Bolton family in June when they lost their husband and father, Dave Bolton, to heat stroke as they were nearing the end of a 17-mile hike in Utah. Months later, Dave’s wife, Vickie, discovered five Donovan Mitchell jerseys, a gift he had intended to give all of their children.
“I was having a friend make the kids quilts out of their dad’s shirts,” Vickie told NBA.com. “I probably wouldn’t have found them otherwise. They were tucked away. He hid them well.”
Knowing how much the jerseys would mean to her kids, Vickie wrapped them and put them under the Christmas tree. She also purchased courtside seats to the Utah Jazz v. L.A. Lakers game in January. It was the ultimate Christmas surprise for the children, and one that reminded them that their father will always be with them in some form.
The family attended the Jan. 11 game, where they cheered hard and felt connected to Dave the entire time.
“He’s got to be jealous right now,” Vickie said of her late husband while at the game. “I’ve felt him the whole way here.”
According to Vickie’s Facebook post, the Jazz gave them free hats and more than $100 in food vouchers before meeting team president, Steve Starks.
“And to top it all off…..Jacob got a Donovan Mitchell plaque signed. Wow it doesn’t get much better than this,” she wrote. “When the Utah Jazz organization heard about our story of me finding Jerseys Dave bought for everyone months before he passed away, they wanted to know more about Dave and our family.”
Dave was a passionate Jazz fan, who even mowed the team’s logo into the grass while cutting his lawn. When the Stockton-to-Malone era was in full force and the Jazz went to back-to-back NBA Finals, Dave celebrated by running down the street with a Jazz flag in hand, and his newborn daughter along for the ride.
“He was screaming and she was screaming because she didn’t know what her dad was doing,” Vickie recalled. “He was just so happy.”
As for the game itself, the Jazz picked up the victory, but even better, they elevated a family still reeling in grief.