Selfish, conceited, arrogant. These are just a few of the descriptions athletes are often tagged with.
However, it’s often in times of great need that athletes can have the greatest impact. That’s been the case in the response to the EF-5 tornado that struck Moore Monday.
The city has been inundated with volunteers and donations from across the nation, the benefactors of which have ranged from the state’s highest profile athletes to those at the high school level.
“It was devastating,” Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Durant said. “A natural disaster isn’t something we can control at all … I call Oklahoma City my home now. It’s tough to go through. We are a city that comes together. We will bounce back from this. It’s tough right now, but the sun is going to shine soon.”
When the Red Cross announced Durant had donated $1 million to its Moore tornado relief fund through his family’s foundation, the most impressive part was that no one was surprised.
“It wasn’t about being the first one,” Durant said. “God told me to do something to help these families out and it was the first thing I thought of. I’m just trying to do anything I can to help. It’s such a tough situation.”
Durant’s teammates were doing their part also. Russell Westbrook, coach Scott Brooks and several other Thunder players met with families recovering from the tornado at OU Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
“It’s tough to come in here and be with the families when their child is in pain, but it’s also good to see them smile and have a sense of enjoyment after the disaster yesterday,” Westbrook said.
Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefalosha were helping take donations Tuesday in Oklahoma City. Fans who came through select donation spots and brought water, food and other items met the two teammates.
Perkins was maligned in the press the past month for his subpar play during the postseason. Many Thunder fans have been vocal about the team jettisoning the big man.
Despite that, Perkins was front and center lending a hand and more.
“At the end of the day we are all here to support each other,” Perkins said. “Just like the fans come out and support us at the games, it’s no different. We are all one family. So we all have to support each other.”
In Norman, it was Sooners finding ways to help. On the day the rowing team was to receive its first invitation to the NCAA championships, the squad was set to have a watch party for its selection.
It never took place.
Instead, the team collected more than $2,000 from team members and staff and went shopping for supplies, eventually delivering them to the OU Housing Center, where displaced families are residing.
The university is housing more than 100 displaced individuals, as well as members of the National Guard.
Local high school athletes also found themselves getting into the act. Southmoore senior Jackson Stallings joined with student Christine Nguyen to collect items that filled up 18 trucks and five cars Tuesday at Earlywine Elementary. They also took in $500, all of it going to different donation sites around Moore, Norman, Newcastle and Oklahoma City.
“We were able to really get around and go to some of the impact points,” Stallings said. “That was pretty rewarding.”
Stallings, who has signed to play football at Yale, also solicited another donation from his future coach.
“I think Yale football is going to make a donation of clothes and gear,” Stallings said. “And also make cash donations for some of the kids who lost their home. That’s pretty powerful. Just thinking of that, the scope of this is kind of beyond our comprehension. This isn’t just a local event. It’s national.”