Sports world expresses shock, disbelief at Orlando mass shooting

The deadly nightclub rampage in Florida that killed at least 50 people sent shock waves around the world Sunday, with many prominent athletes among those taking to Twitter and elsewhere to share their feelings about the massacre.

"It's another hit for us as Americans and what we have to deal with in our world today," Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James said Sunday in offering condolences to the families who lost loved ones in the shooting.

"It definitely puts things in perspective on basketball for myself; it's just a small matter of what reality really is," James said. "My prayers to all the lost ones and all the ones that are recovering from this morning's tragedy in Orlando."

At least 50 people died early Sunday when a gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside a crowded gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, took to Instagram to offer his condolences to the victims' families and express his outrage at the attack.

To my brothers and sisters of the LGBTQ community please take the time to read this. If you have not already heard there was a terrible shooting at a gay night club in Orlando. It is not only a sad day for the #LGBTQ community, but for the American people. 50 people lost their lives because of a hateful coward with a gun. Let this hateful act of terror of the #LGBTQ community be a wake up call for America. Men and women of all races, ages, and sexual orientation are being slaughtered because of hate crimes. How many more must die from a hate crime? We need to create awareness for ALL to show that hate is not the foundation of our nation. Friends DO NOT let this coward put fear into your hearts!!! Let us all come together stronger than ever and let the world know that we will not be terrorized or bullied by the actions of hateful bigots. We are here to stay and fight not only for equality, but for our very existence. To the victims love ones of this terrible crime I and the entire #LGBTQ community in the world stands with you and mourns with you. #standwithorlando #prayfororlando #love #peace #lbgtq #pride

A photo posted by Michael Sam (@mikeysam52) on

WNBA star Brittney Griner, also using the hashtag #prayfororlando, posted a picture of five hearts in the colors of the LGBT flag, with a red heart split in half.

This is such a sad day!

A photo posted by BrittneyGriner (@brittneygriner) on

Shaquille O'Neal, who began his storied career with the Orlando Magic and is the most prominent star to ever play in the city, also chimed in via Twitter:

Aaron Gordon, a forward for the Magic, reacted to the shooting with shock, as well.

Meanwhile, the Magic's official account posted this to Twitter:

The Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves were among the MLB teams to hold a moment of silence for the victims on Sunday afternoon.

In addition, a moment of silence was observed at NASCAR's race in Michigan and before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals in San Jose, California. A moment of silence was also observed before the Florida State-Florida baseball game at the NCAA's super regional Sunday night in Gainesville, Florida.

"We begin with our thoughts and prayers for the Orlando community and all of those affected by the tragic events this early morning,'' Father Geoff Rose of St Francis de Sales High School said Sunday at NASCAR's race in Michigan.

Additional tweets from athletes, ranging from horror at what happened to sympathetic messages for the people who died in the shooting, also rang out across social media Sunday: