Shaun Livingston has spread Christmas cheer to one Illinois family displaced by a tornado

This Christmas, the NBA will celebrate itself with its now-traditional slate of theoretically marketable games. Over the course of Wednesday, 10 high-profile teams will attempt to present the NBA as it hopes to be seen. The holiday becomes something of a basketball spectacle, and we rightfully enjoy it quite a bit.

However, it's important to remember that Christmas can be about other values. On November 19, a tornado in Peoria, Illinois caused severe devastation that included 29 deaths and 350 injuries. Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston, who grew up 20 minutes away in the town of Washington, has decided to give back to one family in need. From Mike Mazzeo for

The Ammerman family, which consists of mother Tammy and her three children -- sons Ethan and Simon, and daughter, Haven -- survived the tornado but lost their home as a result of its destruction.

"They were living in a small duplex," Livingston said. "In 10-15 seconds, their place was gone." [...]

Livingston, on behalf of his foundation, decided to fly back home and surprise the family with a pizza party. He helped them out with some essentials: gift cards for Christmas, grocery cards, Nike shoes for the kids and some Nets gear -- including some autographed pictures.

According to the local ABC affiliate, Tammy Ammerman received a call from her children's school in Washington saying she needed to bring her kids to the Brewers Distributing Company in Peoria, but didn't give a reason why. Tammy Ammerman was completely caught off guard.

"The outpouring of love from people we know, people we don't know and people who come up to me and give me things after we've had this experience. So it just means the world that so many people love and care for us and other people in this situation," she said, according to

Mazzeo's article has more information on Livingston and the Ammermans, including their experience during the tornado. While the family clearly has a lot left to do, it's a nice story and a credit to Livingston.

Livingston is far from the only pro athlete to give back during the holiday season, but this story is nevertheless a nice reminder of how basketball players can reach out to fans. We think of the NBA's connection to the holiday as one grounded in watching athletes on TV, and that's mostly the case. But other connections are possible, as well.

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Eric Freeman

is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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