At 4:02 p.m. ET (3:02 CT) Monday, the National Weather Service in Norman, Okla., warned the residents of Moore, a suburb just south of Oklahoma City, that their lives were in peril.
302pm - LARGE VIOLENT TORNADO moving toward Moore and SW OKC. Take cover right NOW!!! Do not wait!! #okwx— NWS Norman (@NWSNorman) May 20, 2013
The devastation that followed the next 45 minutes was felt throughout the sports world. Many simply offered the hashtag #PrayForOklahoma. Others offered instructions on how they could use their mobile devices to donate to relief efforts.
Those with personal connections to Oklahoma City and its surrounding communities were among the first to react on Twitter. Thunder star Kevin Durant, who on Tuesday pledged $1 million for relief efforts, was among them.
Praying for the victims of the Tornadoes in OKC these last few days..Everybody stay safe!— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) May 20, 2013
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, a native of nearby Midwest City, said he would let his bat do the talking:
I'm giving $1000 for tonight's HR and every HR until the All-Star break for the victims of my hometown in OKC. #PrayforOklahoma— Matt Kemp (@TheRealMattKemp) May 21, 2013
The first tweet from Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, an Oklahoma City native, came at 5:09 ET, little more than an hour after the tornado touched down. He asked followers for prayers and assistance. (While McCoy called it an "F5" tornado, the storm has been classified an F4, at least for now.)
Please please please pray for my home!! Oklahoma!! Devastating twister ripping things apart. Classified as an F5. Kids stuck in a schools.— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) May 20, 2013
This is real people not a game!! F5!! My goodness. God be with my home please!! twitter.com/Geraldini93/st&— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) May 20, 2013
Whatever anybody can do to help my home state please do!! It is much needed. Devastating day in OK!! #pray4Oklahoma— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) May 21, 2013
Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker is also a native of Oklahoma City. He used Twitter to offer a means for followers to donate to relief efforts.
Thoughts and prayers to my hometown OKC. Luckily my family is safe. I have lived in OK a long time. This one might be the worst!— Wes Welker (@WesWelker) May 20, 2013
Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, who played college football at Oklahoma State, had been in the region until Sunday.
Please text STORM to 80888 to donate $10 to the recovery and relief efforts in #Moore, OK. I am spending the rest of my day texting this #!— Wes Welker (@WesWelker) May 20, 2013
I don't even know what to say. My thoughts, prayers, concerns, and heartache goes out to my family, friends, and everyone in Oklahoma.— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) May 20, 2013
To everyone reaching out to me, I am physically ok and flew back from OKC to Detroit yesterday.— Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders) May 20, 2013
For former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner, the news struck a personal chord of a different kind. Wife Brenda's parents were killed in 1996 when a tornado struck their Arkansas home.
My heart & prayers go out to all those impacted by the tornados in Midwest... A devastation our family knows all too well!— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) May 20, 2013
My heart is breaking as I contemplate parents having to spend night wondering what has happened 2 their child or knowing they were killed!— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) May 21, 2013
Other athletes offered prayers for the victims as they reflected on the devastation the storm caused.
No matter how mad you are at your loved ones, always tell them you love them. This world is unpredictable— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 21, 2013
watching this Oklahoma Tornado coverage&prayers for all affected today. IDK why these tragedies happen but all we can do is Pray!— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) May 21, 2013
Prayers go out to all my friends and family in Oklahoma! May god be with you in these horrible times! Love you all! Be safe! #PrayForOK— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) May 20, 2013
The faith that some of the folks have displayed who have been interviewed since the tornado in Oklahoma hit is unreal...prayers up— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) May 21, 2013