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Tim Duncan Puts Out Rare Personal Plea for Disaster Relief in the Virgin Islands

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One of the greatest, and most private, players of all time recounts his experience with a hurricane in his childhood home.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs superstar Tim Duncan doesn’t often speak directly to or through media, at least not compared to his peers, but today he put out a plea for disaster relief in the Virgin Islands following the devastation of Hurricane Irma and the potential onslaught of Hurricane Jose. Published in The Player’s Tribune, Duncan’s lengthy story recounts his childhood experiences with Hurricane Hugo, which overtook the islands and his own home in 1989.

Duncan remembers his family’s fear as the storm struck:

Hugo hit at night. The first thing I remember is a loud boom from the windows blowing out of our house. My mother and sister burst into my bedroom and led me by the hand into another room. We spent the rest of the night sitting in a small bathroom, our eyes wide open. None of us could sleep. We heard the bangs and booms of debris. Once in a while, I’d peek down the hallway at my dad, who was watching our ceiling. One of the beams had a crack in it, and the crack slowly grew bigger throughout the night. I think my dad was praying.

He also talked about the long aftermath:

Hugo crippled the economy. People lost their businesses. Food prices went way, way up. For the next six months, parts of the island didn’t have power, and school was canceled for almost two months. We had to boil water to drink or cook. I got good at showering with a bucket. Without electricity, we had to get crafty to keep food and drinks cold. I remember tying ropes to jugs of milk or orange juice and then lowering them down into a cistern, which collects rainwater. The water was a lot cooler in there. I learned to adapt, like everyone else.

Every once in a while, people would get a generator and each family would take turns using it for a few hours at a time. The priority was always powering the lights and the fridge. As a kid I wanted to watch TV or play video games. (I had the original Nintendo, and Zelda had just come out.) But we knew we had to focus on what we needed, not on what we wanted.

Duncan has donated $250,000 to relief efforts in the Virgin Islands and has promised to match the first $1,000,000 donated by others.

Read Duncan’s story here. It’s worth it.