The devastation brought about by Hurricane Harvey to Houston and its neighboring area has brought out heroes and helpers among the NBA community.
We heard about the $10M donation made by the Houston Rockets’ owner Les Alexander, Houston native Gerald Green driving around Houston to help people, Rockets’ big man Clint Capela ( who was a flood victim himself) tweeting emergency info and the donations of players like Chris Paul to relief operations.
And now, there’s Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Simmons, whose harrowing tale of rescue is one of the many sad stories of Hurricane Harvey.
A Pack of Ramen
Simmons was forced out of his high rise Houston apartment by the storm and forced to stay at a friend’s house in the suburbs of Richmond, Texas. Simmons didn’t come unprepared. He brought along with him food, water, blankets and an air mattress. His friend’s house wasn’t flooded and didn’t lose electricity. The problem was there were plenty of people, mostly kids, whom they had to take in from flooded houses nearby.
With over 20 people evacuating to the house, food and water supply started to run out quickly. Wanting to let the children eat first first, Simmons recalled that all he ate for a couple of days was a pack or ramen. Said Simmons, via nba.com
"Saturday night it started raining about 8 o'clock, but we had gotten over there about 3 o'clock just to be safe,'' Simmons recalled on Wednesday morning. "I had bought all of these air mattresses and covers and blankets and food and water for everybody. We were good for three days, but my other friend's house had started getting flooded early, so he came there to the house, too. So that gave us another 11 extra people and most of them were kids. We had to let the kids eat first, so most of the last two days it was kind of rough (without food).
"There was at least 20 people in the house and probably eight of them were kids,'' Simmons added. ``When I was little, my mom always kept the fridge full of stuff (during hurricanes). This time, I ate a pack of ramen noodles and that's all for like a day-and-a-half.''
Trae Tha Truth
Fortunately for Simmons, the heroic exploits of Houston native and rapper Trae Tha Truth reached him. Trae has been documented to have been riding around a boat trying to help out flood victims.
Turns out, Jonathan Simmons was one of the many people the rapper had rescued. Props to Trae for being the truth in this situation. But here’s Simmons’ story:
"Trae the Truth, the rapper, is from Houston and we know a mutual friend from San Antonio. They brought a boat to Houston because (Trae) had to evacuate as well,’’ Simmons said of the rapper, who has gained additional notoriety recently in Houston for helping dozens of others evacuate flooded areas. "They came and got (Trae) and then he came and got us right away. Luckily, I had a friend in the area who could help us out.’’
"We still had to ride a boat, walk through muddy water and ride on the back of a dumpster truck for like five miles. It was crazy,’’ Simmons recalled. ``I had to hold up my people and I had some kids with me. Most of the kids were old enough to walk, but one of them I had to carry with me.’’
Outpouring Help and Concern
Aside from being rescued by Trae Tha Truth, Simmons’ spirit was lifted when Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel and San Antonio Spurs GM R.C. Buford checked on him recently. NBA Security and Orlando Magic Director of Player Becky Bonner also helped Simmons by constantly communicating with him during the entire ordeal.
Now safe and out of danger, Simmons still isn’t able to return to his condo nor does he have any vehicle for transportation. But now he wants to return the favor and do whatever he can to give back after being the victim himself:
“A lot of people want to help, so that’s been nice. I want to do whatever I can to help out anyway that I can when that’s possible.’’
Jonathan Simmons’ immediate concern is to help fellow flood victims. His long-time concern is to help the Orlando Magic.
Helping The Magic
This summer, Simmons’ signed a three year $20M deal with the Orlando Magic. The signing caps an incredible 2017 for Simmons where he blossomed into an excellent two way wing player for the San Antonio Spurs, especially during the playoffs.
He’s certainly come a long way from obscurity. Undrafted in 2012 after playing for the University of Houston, Simmons worked his way to the Spurs roster by paying $150 for a tryout with the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League. He hasn’t put up huge numbers in two season, averaging just 6.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in 133 regular season games with only 10 starts. But Simmons ascended to another level during the 2017 playoffs.
Remember when Simmons scored 18 points on 8 out of 12 shooting with four assists in the decisive Game 6 of the 2017 Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets?
Simmons became a restricted free agent this summer and after the Spurs renounced their rights on him, he got this big chance to play for the Magic. Now playing for a team lacking in star power, Simmons has the opportunity to shine in Orlando and bring the great stuff he’s learned in Gregg Popovich’s system.
Jonathan Simmons has overcome so many adversities to get to this point in his career. His recent experience in the Houston storm will only make him a much better and stronger person. Hopefully, the Magic hope that will also translate to success inside the basketball court.
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