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Lakers honor heroes from Paris train attack

The Laker Girls present jerseys to Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler during a game against the Pistons. The three American men foiled a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in August.

The Laker Girls present jerseys to Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler during a game against the Pistons. The three American men foiled a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in August.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Anthony Sadler was on a train from Amsterdam to Paris in late August, traveling with childhood friends and wearing a Lakers shirt when his life changed forever.

Sadler and his friends thwarted an attempted terrorist attack on the train, tackling a gunman who opened fire and preventing any fatalities.

Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos were honored Sunday by the Lakers during a game against Detroit at Staples Center. Sadler wore the same Lakers shirt that he had on the train that day.

“I’m not Superman,” he said at a pregame news conference. “We’re not going out here saving people, but at the same time, I feel like it’s important in this state to not be fearful and to stand up and do something. Otherwise, the terrorists win.”

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Stone and Skarlatos were in the U.S. military, traveling with Sadler on a vacation. They were asked about Friday’s attacks in Paris that claimed more than 125 lives.

“It makes me realize even more what could have happened if we weren’t able to do what we did that day,” Stone said. “I just feel for the people of France. I feel very connected to them. It’s just a sad situation.”

Stone methodically recounted the events on the train that night.

“I just woke up from a little slumber and then I turned around and immediately saw the guy. It was super-obvious what he came in and planned to do,” Stone said. “So there wasn’t really a lot of thinking. I just got up and went and tackled him. We fought. Alek and Anthony ran up and helped me subdue him.”

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The three men met privately with Kobe Bryant before Sunday’s game and received a standing ovation after being introduced at midcourt between the first and second quarters at Staples Center.

Before the game, Lakers President Jeanie Buss gave them Lakers jerseys with their names on the back.

“Lakers nation felt very connected because wouldn’t it just be like someone involved with the Lakers to step out and be a leader?” she said. “I heard so much from the fans that we had to do something special.”

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Sadler seemed particularly excited to be honored even though he missed the half-court shot between the third and fourth quarters. It was worth $50,000 dollars.

His path to becoming a Lakers fan was unusual because he grew up in Sacramento, home of the Kings and site of some memorable playoff series that ended in the Lakers’ favor in the early 2000s.

“I was born in 1992. Kobe came in ’97 and from there it was over,” Sadler said, referring to Bryant’s rookie season in 1996-97. “That’s my favorite player and we just got to meet him. I’m star-struck right now.”

Sadler added with a smile that his Lakers loyalty meant he “got ridiculed, [had] stones thrown at me. But it’s all good.”

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UP NEXT

LAKERS AT PHOENIX SUNS

When: Monday, 6 p.m. PST.

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena.

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On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 2-8; Suns 5-4.

Record vs. Suns (2014-15): 0-4.

Update: Led by two point guards in their starting backcourt, the Suns are averaging 104.2 points, good for fourth in the NBA. Eric Bledsoe is averaging 23.2 points and 6.2 assists while Brandon Knight is averaging 19.1 points and 3.9 assists. The Lakers lost to the Suns by an average of 12.5 points last season.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan


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