Mitchell playing for
mother a world away
Leilani Mitchell is playing for more than just a shot at a championship or the attention of WNBA scouts. Last May, just as she had grown accustomed to her new surroundings and new teammates, she found out her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Ellie Majid, Mitchell's mother, had returned to live in her native Australia after separating from Dennis Mitchell. When the call came late at night with news of the diagnosis, it had been almost a year since mother and daughter had been together.
"I didn't know what was going to happen," Mitchell said. "And she lives in Australia, and that was hard too, because it's not like I could go see her right away and just go spend time with her."
Mitchell finally had an opportunity to visit her mother in Australia in August. But on the day she was to pick up her daughter at the airport, Majid collapsed due to what Mitchell described as a blood clot. As a result, Mitchell spent almost the entire three-week stay with her mom in the hospital. Having recovered from that and having responded well to initial chemotherapy treatments, Majid remains one of her daughter's biggest supporters, calling or texting before every game and following the action from Australia.
By her own admission a tomboy growing up with five brothers, Mitchell said she was also one of six momma's children growing up.
"She was just always there for us," Mitchell said. "She's always been important, and she's always the one who wants to hug you when you come home."
-- ESPN.com's Graham Hays