LeBron James seeks normalcy after family fled Getty fire
Around 2 a.m. Monday, LeBron James and his family drove around Los Angeles trying to find a place to stay. James could see the Getty fire as he left his Brentwood home, grabbing just a credit card and his passport.
The first alarm had rung at about 1:30 a.m. and the evacuation order for their neighborhood came shortly thereafter. James walked into three hotel lobbies asking if they had vacancies while his family waited in the car. Each place turned him away. Around 4 a.m. they found a fourth hotel with room for them, and by 6:30 they were able to get some sleep.
Fueled by high winds and dense brush, the Getty fire started about 1:30 a.m. along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass and burned 600 acres within five hours. It had destroyed eight homes and damaged six others, and it was only 5% contained as of Tuesday morning.
As James spoke after the Lakers’ shoot-around about 11 a.m. Tuesday, he said his home had not been affected.
“I am blessed, and I am truly blessed to be able to get my family to safety at that point in time and not be able to face anything that was harmful to us,” James said. “And I wish the same for everyone else in the community that’s ever had to deal with these things over the years. There’s been so many natural disasters over many decades that have been harmful. People have lost lives. But like I said, the most important thing is the first responders, how important they are, how committed they are to be able to respond at that hour, at that speed.”
James sent a taco truck to a base camp for first responders fighting the fire on Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday morning, James slept for about two hours before waking up at 8:30 a.m. to get to the Lakers’ training facility in El Segundo. The team did individual workouts and met for a talk with magician David Blaine before practice. Once they gathered on the court, coach Frank Vogel canceled the rest of practice.
Vogel said the fires were close to several players’ homes, but he wasn’t sure which others had to evacuate. He was asked specifically if James’ sleep schedule would alter any of his plans for Tuesday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“We’ll always be attentive when there’s an adverse circumstance like this, just to keep an eye on it and probably over-communicate with him on how he’s feeling,” Vogel said.
James went to work on Monday, but his kids stayed home from school. His older sons attend Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth.
“It didn’t make much sense for them,” James said. “We didn’t have much to get them to school. No clothes, things of that nature. Plus they didn’t sleep well.”
They returned to school on Tuesday, and James returned to a more normal schedule. He’ll get a pre-game nap in to help his recovery.
“It’s not hard, once I know my family is safe,” James said. “My family is safe and a little discombobulated obviously because of the situation, but they’re safe and once they were safe, to be able to come back here is greatly appreciated.”
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