On May 20, a powerful tornado tore through towns surrounding Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Twenty-four people died, homes and businesses were flattened, and two elementary schools were destroyed.
The devastation moved Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar, to action. Through his Kevin Durant Family Foundation, the four-time NBA All-Star pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross to help with recovery efforts.
"As the day went on and I saw the footage and the casualties and the houses being blown away, it was tough to see," Durant told the Associated Press. "Playing for the Thunder, we mean so much to the state. So many people support us and I just want to go back and support those people."
Durant's generosity didn't stop there. He toured Moore, Oklahoma, the area hit hardest by the tornado, to talk to victims, pose for photos, sign autographs, and give hugs. The two-time scoring champion, who has called Oklahoma City home for five seasons, also tapped Nike to donate $1 million worth of products and apparel to Oklahomans affected by the tornado. Nike donated all profits of the KD V Elite sneakers sold from May 28 to June 15, as well. In addition the Thunder will match Durant's million-dollar donation.
Others athletes are lending a hand too. Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who was born in Oklahoma City and was a college basketball standout for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, hosted an event to benefit the children affected by the tornado. Griffin says the event kicks off a long-term plan to assist tornado victims. Los Angeles Dodgers centerfielder and Oklahoma native Matt Kemp contributed $250,000 to victims and pledged $1,000 for every home run he hits until the All-Star break.
As the sports community continues to rally around tornado victims, fans are encouraged to keep victims in their thoughts and donate to the rebuilding efforts (see below).
Durant believes the resilience of the people of Oklahoma will get them back on their feet.
"I call Oklahoma City my home," Durant said. "We're going to come together as a city like we always do, and we're going to bounce back."
How You Can Help: If you want to learn more about how you can help the tornado victims, talk to your parents and then visit www.redcross.org.
Photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP