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If you're like me or my friend Trey Kerby, this photo of Russell Westbrook high-fiving a young victim of the tornado that devastated Oklahoma City and Moore, Okla., on Monday filled your heart to bursting, and also made you want to know a little bit more about the injured Oklahoma City Thunder point guard's new friend.
First off: The little guy is Grayson Ketchie. He's 3 years old, he's the big brother of a 6-month-old named Brayden and, based on the company he keeps, appears to be a boss. On Monday afternoon, the brothers were at a day care facility destroyed by the storm; while Brayden came out unscathed, Grayson did sustain some injuries, which landed him in the Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center.
And that's where Westbrook and several of his Thunder colleagues come into the story, according to Nick Gallo of the Thunder's official website:
[...] the Ketchie’s story has a happy ending. Both of their children will be okay, and as they were recovering, they were one of the many families the Thunder visited at the Children’s Hospital the day after the tragic storm. Russell Westbrook, Jeremy Lamb, Hasheem Thabeet, DeAndre Liggins and Head Coach Scott Brooks all met with families recovering from the horrific tornado in the PICU. The highlight of the day was when Westbrook, despite being in a wheelchair as he recovers from his torn right meniscus, played with Grayson, exchanged high-fives and blew bubbles.
“He played with Grayson so wonderfully,” [mother Janna] Ketchie said. “It’s so awesome. They’re great guys… It’s amazing to see that he’s a professional basketball player who we know from nobody and he’s blowing bubbles with my son to make my son feel better. It’s amazing.” [...]
“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.
Hit the jump for footage of the Thunder players visiting Grayson and other young patients at the hospital.
While Thunder players visited young victims, other team employees participated in a blood drive and volunteered at a local recovery supplies drop-off location as part of local relief work. The organizational efforts followed All-Star forward Kevin Durant's $1 million donation to the local branch the American Red Cross, a significant sum subsequently matched by Durant's employers. Durant also visited the Red Cross on Wednesday to meet relief workers and lend a hand.
Financial and physical support are, of course, critical in times like these. But as Kim Prato, a child life specialist in the pediatric intensive care unit at OU Medical Center, told Gallo, the emotional support the Thunder offered matters quite a bit, too — and not only to young patients like Grayson:
“It’s hard not to get emotional,” Prato said. “Being acknowledged, being appreciated is very helpful especially in a time where you’re hurting for your community. Not very many of us slept last night. We’re going on two very long days. … To (have the Thunder) give back and say thank you to the healthcare providers is overwhelming.”
For information on how you can lend a hand, check out the Red Cross' website. You can also make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999 from your cell phone.
Video via Beyond the Buzzer.