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Las Vegas native Stephen Zimmerman returns home with Lakers one week after massacre

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error EL SEGUNDO — He saw the posts on social media. Friends were running, trying to hide from a hail of bullets that he would later learn were being fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, into a crowd of 22,000 people.“It’s intimidating,” Stephen Zimmerman said. “It’s scary to think about (the fact) that someone you know has seen something like that. It hurts.”A native of Las Vegas, Zimmerman feverishly texted friends he thought could have been at the outdoor country music festival that on Sunday became the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history.“It feels way more personal,” said Zimmerman, a Lakers center. “It’s one of those things that’s like you never know how it feels until it happens to you and it feels like it happened to me.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersZimmerman moved to Las Vegas when he was 6 and attended Bishop Gorman High and UNLV before leaving after his freshman year to declare for the draft. He was selected 41st overall by Orlando. After the Magic waived him this summer, the Lakers invited him to training camp, where he is trying to earn a roster spot.A perk of playing for the Lakers was their annual preseason trip to his hometown. On Sunday, the Lakers will face Sacramento at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, one mile from the site of the shooting that left 58 people dead.Zimmerman’s parents already planned to be at Sunday’s game. What should have been a happy reunion for the Lakers hopeful will instead be a somber return to his city.“That’s something that’s going to affect Las Vegas forever,” he said. “We just want to keep it in our minds and let people know what’s going on to help make a difference.”Word of the shooting first reached Zimmerman on Sunday night when his sister texted to make sure he was safe. Of course, he was hundreds of miles away, preparing for the next morning’s Lakers practice. When he and his girlfriend awoke Monday morning, they began to understand the scale of the rampage.center_img “The first thing I did was text everybody see if everyone was OK,” he said. “I didn’t really have a lot of time because we came here (to practice).”That morning, Coach Luke Walton spoke to the team about the shooting.“We just wanted to keep it in our minds that outside of basketball there are things going on,” Zimmerman said.On Friday, the Lakers and Kings announced that all proceeds from Sunday’s game will be donated to aid efforts for victims and their families, as well as first responders. The donation will be made through MGM Resorts Foundation.“While no one can erase the horrific actions of last Sunday,” Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement, “we are committed to doing everything we can to help the people of Las Vegas who were affected by this tragedy.”Kings owner Vivek Ranadive added, “To say we are united in grief does not fully convey the sadness we feel as we offer our deepest sympathies and support to those impacted.”GOING FOR BROOKWhile Lonzo Ball’s status for Sunday remains uncertain, the Lakers will be one step closer to full strength. Center Brook Lopez will be in the starting lineup after missing the first three preseason games due to back spasms.Acquired in the pre-draft trade for D’Angelo Russell, Lopez, 29, averaged 20.5 points per game last season while shooting 34 percent from 3-point range.“Brook was showing us that 3-point shot in some of the scrimmage,” Walton said following practice Friday.Ball called him “one of the best big men in the league.”“Any team he goes too,” Ball said, “he’s going to change it. So I’m excited to see him out there.”The Lakers have three exhibition games remaining before opening the regular season against the Clippers on Oct. 19. While Walton has shown a willingness to be patient with the health of veterans like Lopez and Andrew Bogut, he acknowledged Friday a need to integrate them.“We need to get guys gaining some chemistry together,” he said.last_img read more