Coach K Shaked This Man’s Hand Before Every Home Game For 37 Years

Duke Fan Steve Mitchell’s 37-Year Tradition with Coach K

For nearly four decades, a familiar face graced the sidelines of Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium: Steve Mitchell. Sitting right behind legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, Steve wasn’t just a fan, he was a friend.

Born with Down Syndrome, Steve’s love for Duke basketball knew no bounds. In 1980, his Christmas wish was a simple one: a ticket to a game. Through a twist of fate, Steve’s brother’s construction company was renovating Coach K’s house. When Steve’s brother expressed the difficulty of finding a ticket, Coach K offered a solution that would change both their lives.


“He can sit behind me,” Coach K said, sparking a heartwarming tradition. The following season, Steve penned a heartfelt letter, expressing his hopes for another great year and his desire to keep his special seat. Coach K reciprocated with a handwritten note, solidifying their bond.

For 37 years, this heartwarming exchange continued. Steve would collect his reserved ticket, a symbol of his unwavering support, and head to his seat. His family credits this tradition as a source of immense joy and confidence for Steve.

Coach K shook his hand before every game.

The pre-game handshake between Steve and Coach K was a cherished ritual. “Steve never asked for anything,” Coach K shared in an email. “He just wanted to be down there to support us. I always felt like he had my back.”

Steve’s passing in 2017 left a void in the Duke community. His unwavering spirit and Coach K’s unwavering friendship serve as an inspiration, reminding us of the power of connection and the magic that can blossom from a simple act of kindness.

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