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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Orlando tragedy hits close to home for New York Liberty star

Both of Shavonte Zellous' sneakers bear the words "Orlando Strong" written by the New York Liberty guard and Orlando native.

Zellous plans to play the rest of the season with the message to the Orlando victims.

"Orlando was always a part of me and I want everybody to just to continue to pray for our city, my city," Zellous said. "It is going to take some time to heal, time heals everything.

"When I am done with the things I have to do out here, I always call my cousins, my family and especially my mom, I talk to her every day just to get a grip of what is going on and just the city. She tells me it is still sad. I think everybody is still shaken up, it is still like a haunted house. We just continue to stay together."

If there was more she could do to aid in her hometown's healing process following the deaths of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub, she would certainly do anything. However, for the team being, this gesture in addition to a compelling first-person piece on the Players' Tribune focusing on her state of mind as she attempted to reach out to her sister, who was at the club a week before the massacre.

"Still to this day, there is still a lot going through my mind, thank God I have basketball as an outlet," Zellous said before the Liberty's game against the Connecticut Sun. "It was important to (remember) the victims, the families that lost somebody, they know you are not out here alone and there are people ere to pray for you and support you."

Zellous was on the road when she first heard about the tragic events in Orlando. When she landed in New York, her mother called. When she had no information on the well being of her sister, Shavonte called Mina directly. Each time the phone rang with no answer, Shavonte's heart sunk lower and lower. Finally when Mina answered, she breathed a sigh of relief.

"I could have been the one on the other end with some bad news but luckily she answered the phone for me, luckily she had to go to work so she wasn't in such a tragic situation," Zellous said. "My head was spinning but once I heard her voice, I knew everything was OK. Unfortunately, she lost a couple of friends due to that situation down there. Just to hear her voice, it was nervewracking at first, it took a while for the phone to ring but absolutely great that she is OK.

"It hits home just to know all the families that lost loves ones, I could have possibly be one of those (mourning the loss of a family member). Just to see everybody continue to support the tragedy that happened down there, it is really a plus for not only me but for the city of Orlando.

"I am from there, it is going to take some time to get over tis and recover from it."

Zellous knows how strong the people in Orlando are and knows in time the city will move forward.

"It is going to take some time but it is something that is going to have to build but not when we want to heal, everybody is going to take it one step at a time,"  Zellous said.

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