Fallen MPD Officer Mitchell remembered by basketball group

The players formed a circle and joined hands in prayer – an unusual sight for a lunchtime pickup basketball game at Life Time in Maple Grove.

But so is the loss they feel.

"I can’t stop crying," said Roland Pour, who has been part of this group for years.

Officer Jamal Mitchell, who lost his life in the line of duty last Thursday, was really the heart and soul of this group. They play every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and even though it had existed for years, Mitchell quickly became the organizing force that kept it going.

"I mean he literally just took over. He became the man," said Pour, who’d been the one who initially invited Mitchell to play about five or six years ago.

Mitchell quickly became the driving force, texting players several times a week to make sure they had enough for a game.

The text group, which is now renamed in his honor, shows message after message from last week as Jamal confirmed that people would show.

On this Monday, just days after Jamal Mitchell’s death in the line of duty, they all turned out.

"On Monday, we’re lucky to get like five, six guys," said Morris Dennis. "Just to have about 20 in here says a lot about who he was as a person, you know."

Morris Dennis, who is an officer with Minneapolis Park Police, met Mitchell a few years ago in training.  Mitchell soon recruited Dennis to join the games.

"I mean you can see my height, he probably thought I was good, but I wasn’t really," joked Dennis. "But he kept on inviting me out, so I showed up and got this group of guys, kind of like a community of brothers."

Dennis was among the massive force of officers who responded last Thursday to reports of an officer down. He quickly learned it was his friend from basketball.

After Monday’s game, one by one, players signed a basketball to be given to Jamal Mitchell’s family. 

They’ll remember him for the red shoes he always wore and the energy, enthusiasm and fun he always brought.

"We’re going to miss him," noted Pour with a heavy dose of sorrow in his voice. "And we’re not just going to let his memory die. Everybody knew him... Everybody knew him."