Santa Barbara’s Spirit of Giving Takes Center Court

By Jamie Knee   |   July 2, 2024
Ajay Mitchell helps Adam McKaig with a Costco run

Santa Barbara’s spirit of giving back permeates every corner, a truth I constantly witness as a writer chronicling the vibrant lifestyles of our community. This truth shines brightly in Ajay Mitchell, a local sports hero who isn’t just electrifying audiences with his performance for the UCSB Gauchos, but also leaving a lasting impression through his heartfelt community service. As Mitchell chases his NBA dream, his unwavering commitment to giving back continues to inspire our beloved Santa Barbara.

A standout athlete and role model, Mitchell recently declared for the NBA Draft. Three stellar seasons secured him two All-Big West First Team honors and the prestigious Big West Player of the Year title (2022-23). His impressive stats (16.1 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.0 rebounds per game) speak volumes about his athletic prowess. But it’s his dedication off the court that truly makes him shine.

Looking to fulfill some community service hours, Mitchell found himself connected with Adam McKaig, the founder of Adam’s Angels, a volunteer group dedicated to feeding Santa Barbara’s unhoused population. McKaig, a pillar of local philanthropy, welcomed Mitchell with open arms.

Together they tackled Costco, meticulously selecting non-perishable food items that would meet the critical needs of those relying on Adam’s Angels. For many, this food would be their sustenance for days, highlighting the immense impact of the mission.

“A community thrives when everyone contributes,” McKaig shared. “Ajay’s enthusiasm and dedication were truly inspiring. He’s more than just an exceptional athlete; he’s someone who genuinely cares about making a difference.”

Mitchell’s dedication to service adds another exciting layer to his upcoming NBA Draft. The Montecito Club will be hosting a celebratory event on June 27th to honor this momentous occasion. Friends, family, and the entire Santa Barbara community will gather to support their young star as he embarks on his potential NBA journey.

Mitchell’s time as a Gaucho clearly fostered his passion for service. As a standout player for UCSB and an active member of the Santa Barbara community, he shared, “I always felt like giving back to the community was important. My goal is to be able to help others and show love to everyone who is around!”

This spirit of giving back is deeply ingrained in him. Reflecting on his experiences, Mitchell highlights the values that will guide him in the NBA. “I think for me as a Christian, the key lesson and value is to always try to help people around me,” he says. “Transitioning to the NBA, I feel it will be the same goal, using my status to show the world that kindness and love goes a long way!”

As the draft approaches, the Santa Barbara community eagerly awaits the chance to celebrate Mitchell’s success. No matter where his professional career takes him, his commitment to service ensures he’ll always be a cherished member of our Santa Barbara family. Beyond the world of sports, Ajay Mitchell exemplifies the values of hard work, humility, and compassion. His story reminds us all that true greatness lies not just in what you achieve, but in how you use your success to uplift others.  


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