Our thoughts are with the people in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida, as Hurricane Irma tore through the area this weekend, making landfall on Sunday and immediately wreaking havoc on the coastline. The damage, as of late Sunday night, was still being assessed.
As with Hurricane Harvey, the sports world didn't just provide a distraction from the devastation, but tried to help those affected by the deadly storm.
Tim Duncan, a native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, made an initial donation of $250,000 of his own money and encouraged others to do the same with a heartfelt essay at The Players Tribune. He also promised to match any donations from readers, up to $1 million. His YouCaring page is already over that mark, and you can donate here.
"Every dollar donated will go directly to relief efforts on the ground. Starting as soon as the weather permits, I'll be chartering an airplane full of supplies from San Antonio to St. Croix, the biggest town in the Virgin Islands," Duncan wrote. "And I'm already busy putting together a team -- some from the Virgin Islands and some who will fly in from elsewhere -- to help manage the relief effort."
The outpouring of support brought teams from different leagues together as well, with the Panthers, Bruins, Rays and Red Sox coordinating a joint effort to collect donations for the Red Cross.
Boston is stepping up for our state!- Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 10, 2017
THANK YOU! pic.twitter.com/32qC1XEBMF
Florida Atlantic traveled to Wisconsin for a game against the Badgers this weekend, and with the FAU campus already locked down, the Badgers offered their opponent lodging and the use of practice facilities indefinitely.
ESPN reported that a local Pizza Hut provided a free meal and Wisconsin is also providing grief counselors.
FAU coach Lane Kiffin admitted after the game that players were conflicted about leaving home ahead of the storm to play a game.
"At one point, I thought we weren't coming. Our players didn't want to come because there's a lot of players not wanting to leave their families," Kiffin said. "You've got kids coming into the office saying, 'Coach, I know it's a football game, but I'm really the only one to take care of my grandma. We don't know what's coming.' But there was a decision made to come play, so with all of those distractions, I thought the guys stayed together in a difficult situation."
Florida International moved their home game against Alcorn State to Birmingham and played on Friday in front of 5,017 fans. Georgia Southern moved their game against New Hampshire to Legion Field as well, and played Saturday.
"This is about people helping people," UAB athletics director Mark Ingram said.
FIU brought 170 athletes from eight sports to Birmingham on Wednesday and Thursday and have no idea when they'll head back home.
"We had several players that did not make the trip just because they had family members that could not be left alone," FIU coach Butch Davis told the Miami Herald. "One of them had a 10-year-old brother he had to stay and take care of. Several of them had grandparents that were elderly and they had nobody else on the planet to make sure they were safe and taken care of. Our hearts and prayers go out to the ones we had to leave behind to take care of family members. Hopefully we'll be blessed and it will miss a big part of Florida and dissipate and we won't be reading about enormous casualties."
Miami Dolphins' players and their families left for Los Angeles earlier this week. They'll stay there through next week, when they're scheduled to play the Chargers.
Stephen Ross is flying players, coaches, staff & their families to LA ahead of Irma.- Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 9, 2017
Our thoughts & prayers are with everyone in Florida. pic.twitter.com/IlIEyOKA7f
Some Florida residents evacuated to the Atlanta area, and the Miami Marlins played a four-game series over the weekend against the Braves. Atlanta offered free tickets for any Florida resident.
In light of recent evacuation orders, we will honor this deal to residents of Georgia and South Carolina that are under evacuation orders. https://t.co/2nIgfNCxxI- Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 7, 2017
After his team's game against the Dolphins was postponed, Buccaneers cornerback Bernard Reedy stayed behind locally to help wheelchair-bound residents with Care Ride, an organization he spent the offseason working for while his NFL future was in limbo.
As the storm rages, no one knows how bad the damage will be or what will have to be done when the rain ceases, but the storm has already made an impact. We salute those who have pitched in.