Last week a devastating tornado ripped through suburbs of Oklahoma City, leaving at least 2 dozen people dead, thousands without a home, and millions affected in some form or another by this terrible tragedy.

In times like these, the right words are hard to come by. This is yet another in a string of tragedies that seem to keep hitting this nation, and indeed, the world. We would be foolish to think that America is the only country to experience tragedy and death on great scales, let alone that we are a country who even experiences the majority of it.

One thing is certain, America is our home, and our hearts break right alongside our fellow citizens when disasters both natural and man-made serve to destroy their lives.

Yet even in the midst of great tragedy comes great hope. For in the ashes of the tornado that hit Oklahoma, we are left with hundreds of stories of people laying down their life to love and care for their fellow-man in his time of need.

One such story that struck me in particular was an article I read in which Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder gave $1 Million to tornado victims, with the Thunder matching it for a grand total of $2 Million to support disaster relief.

Said Durant:  “As the day went on and I saw the footage and the casualties and the houses being blown away, it was tough to see. I call Oklahoma City my home. I go through Moore all the time. It’s unfortunate. We’re going to come together as a city like we always do and we’re going to bounce back.”

Many often question the value or validity of sports, but situations like this one show us how beneficial to a community in need sports can be. The very institution itself gives people a common cause to rally behind, an outlet for people to achieve great dreams through teamwork, and a distraction from horrific circumstances.

Kevin Durant and the Thunder didn’t have to give any money. Countless other sports superstars didn’t have to reach out to the affected families with their thoughts, prayers, and wallets either. But they did.

This is but a small example of the role sports can play in times of tragedy. Let us celebrate the resolve of the people of Oklahoma, and the outpouring of compassion and help from their neighbors.

Sports are not merely entertainment, and basketball is not simply a game. In times like these, they unite a community and facilitate a form of salvation for those affected.

If you too want to follow in the same vein of Durant and the Thunder, here are practical ways you can help those affected.

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