Going Nose-To-Nose With Derrick Favors

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How Utah Jazz Power Forward  Shares His Home with Two Canine Companions

Four years ago, Derrick Favors was rated the top high school player in the country, and today he is a rising star for the Utah Jazz — both on and off the court. As a power forward for the Jazz, he has leaped into the 2014-2015 basketball season with a bang. In October, he scored 32 points against the Phoenix Suns — a career high that led the Jazz to a smashing 118-91 victory. His dedication to the Jazz and basketball have been applauded by current coach Quin Synder, former coach Ty Corbin and Karl Malone, alike, and his contributions as a team leader have been recognized by his fellow players.

Derrick has achieved remarkable success during his first three years with the NBA. While he dreamed of playing professionally, he couldn’t have imagined that four years after high school he would be a rookie player on one of the most dynamic teams in the NBA, that he would buy his first house in Utah, and that he would share his home with two furry companion animals. After officially signing with the Jazz in 2013, 23-year-old Derrick decided to make Utah his permanent residence. In the spring of 2013, he welcomed the first of two loving dogs into the home he shares with longtime girlfriend, Shivolli Da Silva.

Gotti, a male blue Pit Bull, was the first to join the Favors family. According to Derrick, he is a still a growing puppy and has a lot of energy to spare. He chose Gotti’s name on the spur of the moment when his girlfriend was making a dog tag for him, but it was definitely the right fit. The name Gotti is strong and unique, and that is what Derrick liked about it.

In late 2013, Derrick welcomed Roxy, a female teacup Yorkshire Terrier, as a gift for Shivolli after her previous dog, Rocky, passed away from health complications. Teacup Yorkshire Terriers generally weigh less than four pounds — a sharp contrast to Derrick’s 6-foot 10-inch, 250-pound frame. Still, it’s the little one who unexpectedly grabs at his heartstrings. “I didn’t think I’d ever have a small dog, but she grew on me,” says Derrick.
Derrick was raised in Atlanta by his mother, Deandra, and, as a child, wished for a dog of his own. His mother was not as fond of the idea because she knew how much care a dog really requires. She wanted Derrick and his siblings to focus on school and extracurricular activities, like basketball.
“When I was younger, I always wanted a dog — a Pit Bull. They are good dogs, especially when you treat them right,” says Derrick.
Derrick occasionally shares photos of Gotti and Roxy on his personal Twitter page and is proud to show off their activities — playtime, favorite toys, and meeting new friends.

“I was surprised at how well they play together and get along. They like each other and are really playful. Gotti is good with her [Roxy],” says Derrick.
When asked what his mom thinks about him having two dogs in the house, he replied, “Oh, she was surprised, but she loves both dogs. She was most surprised that I had a little dog like Roxy.” Both dogs are still in the “puppy phase” and require a lot of time and energy (as Derrick’s mom told him they would), but it’s worth it to Derrick to have Gotti and Roxy in his life. Having canine companions seems to help balance his public and private lives, especially for someone who doesn’t like to go to clubs or party in his off-time.

Last year, after Derrick was officially signed to the Jazz, he bought a home in the hills above Salt Lake City. He likes to be part of the city life but also likes to have personal space and wanted a place where Gotti has room to play, inside and out. Derrick is learning more about Utah’s outdoor activities and likes to take Gotti on walks and to the dog park. He looks forward to finding more places where Gotti and Roxy can meet other dogs and get exercise.

Even with his recent successes, Derrick remembers the value of family and has fully embraced his companion animals as part of his life. Derrick and Shivolli look forward to celebrating the holidays with their canine and human family members in the coming months. Derrick chuckles when he says that Roxy will probably get dressed up, but Gotti will just go along with the celebrations.

On any given night during the basketball season, Derrick is up against some of the strongest, most talented basketball players in the world. Gotti doesn’t like to travel much and stays at home when Derrick is working, but he might catch the game if it’s on television.
Off the court, Derrick is known as the rookie with a big heart who lends his voice and talent to help those in need. As a way to honor Veterans Day in early November, Derrick and his fellow players spent time at the VA hospital in Salt Lake City, as part of the NBA’s “Commitment to Service” program that aims to support military-related projects. Even after a late night game, Derrick and players, like Gordon Hayward and Trevor Booker, woke up early and spent the day working to clean the leaves from the VA courtyard and hang holiday lights on the trees.

At home, Derrick goes nose-to-nose with Gotti and Roxy and relaxes into his private life. He and Shivolli involve the dogs in most of their activities and make sure that they are always cared for, especially when they travel away for games. When talking about his animals, Derrick seems happy to share a part of his life that many people don’t know about.
“They [Gotti and Roxy] don’t care who you are. They just wanted to be taken care of and loved,” says Derrick.

The former Georgia Tech standout has discovered that Utah is a great place to play basketball and a great place to live, even though good Southern food is hard to find in the Beehive State. Derrick and Shivolli have plans to stay in Utah for a long time and the Utah Jazz are happy to have Derrick as part of the team. On the home front, Gotti and Roxy have made warm additions to the Favors family and remind us that big hearts can reveal themselves in the most surprising places.

    • Is originally from Atlanta
    • Was rated the top high school player in the country in 2010
    • Played one season at Georgia Tech
    • Was traded by the Nets to the Jazz for Deron Williams in 2011
    • Named to the NBA All-Rookie second team in 2011-12
    • Averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game last season for the Jazz
    • Lives in Salt Lake City with his girlfriend and two dogs

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

By: April A. Northstrom

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