Kevin Durant, Thunder both donate $1M to Oklahoma tornado disaster relief
Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant donated $1 million Tuesday to the American Red Cross through his family foundation to assist with disaster relief efforts in the wake of a tornado that swept through Oklahoma on Monday, killing at least 24 people and injuring hundreds of others.
“The Red Cross relies on its donors to perform its mission in relieving human suffering following disasters,” Janienne Bella, Red Cross’s regional CEO said in a statement. “Mr. Durant’s gift and support to Oklahoma comes at a time of great need and we’re forever thankful for his generosity.”
Later Tuesday, the Thunder organization also pledged a $1 million donation.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected by the devastation that has occurred within our community this week,” Thunder chairman Clay Bennett said in a statement. “We are focusing Thunder resources to help where we can in the relief efforts and to support the organizations that are on the ground assisting those affected by this week’s storms. Even with so much loss, the strength and resiliency of this community have once again been on display, and we will continue to work together as our community and state recover from this disaster.”
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also pledged $1 million on Tuesday.
Durant tweeted a message of support to storm victims on Monday.
“Praying for the victims of the Tornadoes in OKC these last few days,” he wrote. “Everybody stay safe!”
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins sent Durant a message of thanks for the donation on Tuesday.
“Love it bro,” he wrote. “That’s how you keep it real. That’s a good thing bro. One million dollars is a blessing for the community.”
A number of other Thunder players — including Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha — offered their thoughts and prayers to the disaster victims.
CNN.com reports that the EF5 tornado’s wind speeds were estimated at up to 210 miles per hour. Hardest hit was Moore, OK., a town that sits just 10 miles south of Oklahoma City, where homes and businesses were flattened. President Barack Obama declared the storm a major disaster on Monday, making federal aid available, and pledged his support to the region on Tuesday.
“The people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them, as long as it takes,” he said. “There are empty spaces where there used to be living rooms and bedrooms and classrooms and in time we’re going to need to refill those spaces with love and laughter and community.”
The Associated Press reported Monday that Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which owns naming rights on the Thunder’s home arena in Oklahoma City, also donated $1 million to the Red Cross.
Durant, the runner-up to LeBron James for the 2013 MVP award, earned $16.7 million this season and recently placed No. 12 on SI.com’s “Fortunate 50″ list of highest-paid professional athletes, with an estimated annual income of $27.7 million.
The Kevin Durant Family Foundation has raised money to support after-school, summer, single-parent and education programs since it was founded in 2012. Durant and his mother, Wanda Pratt, set the foundation’s “Playing it forward” vision, with an emphasis on helping children and families.
“It’s an honor to play in the NBA, and I hope that I can use some of the attention given to me because of my work on the court to raise awareness and resources for the things that I know personally can make a difference in the lives of kids,” Durant said in a 2012 statement. “My mom believed in me, faced the many challenges of being a single parent, and she made sure that I had good grades and was involved in activities that helped make me become the person I am today. I’m excited to launch my foundation and look forward to making a difference.”
Durant, 24, has spent the past five seasons in Oklahoma City. The Thunder were eliminated by the Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals last week.