Sports stars take to social media to support Paris: ‘We are with you’

Rescuers evacuate people after an attack in the 10th arrondissement of Paris on Friday. Dozens of people were killed in a series of attacks.


New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca admitted he had a hard time focusing on basketball late Friday.

The Frenchman was worried about the safety of his family in Paris after deadly terrorist attacks. He didn’t get confirmation they were all safe until after New Orleans’ 100-81 loss at Toronto, and he was especially concerned for a cousin who was at the soccer friendly rocked by suicide bombers.

"It’s just a crazy world. You think you’re safe, you’re just walking down the street and the next thing you know, people start shooting," Ajinca said. "My prayers go to my family and friends."

Ajinca wrote "Pray for Paris" on his sneakers, and asked his Twitter followers to "Pray for my family and friends" before the game.

"During the whole game I was trying to get this out of my mind so I was able to stay focused," Ajinca said after he had 10 points and nine rebounds in the loss.

"It felt weird. I was thinking about it the whole game."

Less than 24 hours after the attacks, the wounds still hurt.

After Indiana Pacers center Ian Mahinmi used Twitter to express his condolences on Friday, he issued a long statement on Saturday thanking friends and fans for their support.

But the Frenchman who played on the 2014 national team and sometimes writes tweets in French, was still shocked by what happened in his homeland.

"While I am comforted in that my family and friends in that area are safe, I’m pained by the loss suffered by my country and those affected by this horrific event," Mahinmi said in a statement released by the Pacers. "It both saddens and sickens me that some have little or no regard for human life, not only in this particular circumstance but also in everyday life."

He acknowledged that the game against Minnesota on Friday was tough to get through.

Mahinmi wasn’t the only NBA player with French ties who struggled with his emotions.

In Chicago, the Charlotte Hornets’ Nicolas Batum and Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah shared a moment prior to their game. Batum played for France at the 2012 Olympics. Noah’s father is former French tenis star Yannick Noah. Batum and Noah asked about each other’s families before tipoff, and both had good news to report.

"Still a tough day for us," Batum said after Chicago’s 102-97 win. "I think about it all game. I wanted to do a good game to show them in my way, we’re strong."

Batum said he stayed on his phone as long as possible before the game trying to locate his family. He has a sister who lives near the site of one of the attacks.

"I talked to my sister and some friends and everybody is all right," Batum said. "They’re shocked. They told me Paris is like a war outside. Everybody is outside. The police is outside. The army is outside."

Noah, who lived in Paris from 1988-98, called family before the game to confirm everyone was OK.

"A lot of people died for no reason," he said.

NBA arenas around the league held moments of silence for the victims in Paris. French players Boris Diaw and Kevin Seraphin were among the many players who tweeted their thoughts for victims and the country. Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James also weighed in and offered his condolences.

"Our world right now is having so many different tragedies, so many different innocent people and victims are losing lives over nonsense, and hopefully at some point in time people will realize that’s not the way to live," James said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.