It's every athlete's goal to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but not in the way Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Javier Arenas has done it. Unfortunately, it isn't gracing the cover because of his skills. Rather, Arenas is featured in the magazine for surviving the tornado that chewed up his adopted hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on April 27.
The cover photo shows Arenas, who played for Alabama's 2009 National Championship team, standing on a tree stump, dwarfed by the destruction on his street. He told the magazine that he watched the tornado approach and took cover in his bathtub as it blew past his home, leveling nearby houses.
Writer Lars Anderson describes the unreal atmosphere that
lingered after the tornado passed:
Arenas prayed in his bathtub. Please God, let it be over.
it be over... . And then it was. The tornado passed. Arenas, his
heart jackhammering, walked outside. Several houses in his neighborhood
were flattened. A few women ran down his street screaming. He meandered,
as if in a dreamlike fog, to his favorite place on 15th Street, a
Smoothie King, where he had always stopped after his workouts. The
building looked as if a fist from the sky had reached down and smashed
it. But as he walked closer to where the Smoothie King had stood 10
minutes earlier, he heard two women buried in the store's rubble,
begging to be rescued. As Arenas drew closer to help, he was overcome by
the noxious smell of gas. He ran to a fireman, told him of the women,
and within minutes they were pulled to safety.
In the days after the disaster, Arenas visited Kansas City to stock up on
emergency supplies, before returning and handing them out to Tuscaloosa
residents made homeless by the storms. He told the magazine, "I never
realized that as a former Alabama football player, I can bring a
smile to someone's face just by hugging them."
Let's hope the Sports Illustrated jinx doesn't apply to stories about natural disasters.