Thunder Players Tour Tornado Damage In Moore

Wednesday, May 22nd 2013, 1:53 pm
By: News 9

Today, while many were in the midst of cleaning up their tornado ravaged homes, some got a surprise visit from members of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team.

General manager Sam Presti, head coach Scott Brooks, Thabo Sefalosha, Russell Westbrook, Daniel Orton, Hasheem Thabeet toured three separate neighborhoods Wednesday morning.

The first stop was in south Oklahoma City near S.W. 149th Street and Robinson Avenue.

Westbrook, on crutches, hobbled up to a house where Beau Cannady and his uncle Ken McFarland were helping with cleanup efforts. The two were star-struck as the NBA star shook their hands.

Sefalosha and his wife visited with Shellie Denson, who was helping with cleanup efforts at a friend's house. That friend happens to be a huge Thunder fan.

"He's going to be sorry he missed this, but honored you all stopped by," Denson said.

Complete Coverage: May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

Sam Presti and Thabeet visited with Ryan Paterson, who was cleaning up his tornado ravaged home.

"I was actually watching Channel 9 when I saw the tornado heading our way, so I left," said Paterson. "When I returned, my house, my entire neighborhood was gone."

Word spread fast that Sefalosha, Westbrook, Orton, Thabeet and the gang were in the area. Many tried to get a quick picture, a handshake and the occasional autograph.

"To see the resolve of the people who have lost everything, that's something," said Presti. "We want to do everything we can to support the community that has supported us so much."

They also made a stop at the Moore Fire Department to visit with first responders and emergency personnel. They shook hands, took pictures, and said thank you to the emergency workers for all their hard work in aftermath of the tornado.

"I am from here. I was here during the May 3, 1999 tornado," said Orton. "But I have never seen anything like this. But we have a great community and we want to do everything we can to support them since they support us."

Members of the team also took a car tour of the devastation near Briarwood Elementary School and Plaza Towers Elementary school, but were not allowed out of the vehicle.

Their final stop was in a hard-hit neighborhood near S. 19th street and Santa Fe Avenue where just the day before, search and rescue teams, as well as cadaver dogs, searched the area yesterday. The team spoke to a man named Paul and his 10-year-old daughter, Karen. The tornado destroyed their home. They say the visit from the NBA stars meant a lot.

Coach Brooks says that is exactly why they did it; to provide a little bit of happiness amid all the death and destruction. The team plans on doing more surprise visits in the days and weeks to come.

Star Thunder player Kevin Durant has also pledged $1 million to tornado relief efforts.