Las Vegas native Stephen Zimmerman returns home with Lakers one week after massacre
By Bill Oram
EL SEGUNDO — He saw the posts on social media. Friends were running, trying to hide from a hail of bullets that he would later learn were being fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, into a crowd of 22,000 people.
“It’s intimidating,” Stephen Zimmerman said. “It’s scary to think about (the fact) that someone you know has seen something like that. It hurts.”
A native of Las Vegas, Zimmerman feverishly texted friends he thought could have been at the outdoor country music festival that on Sunday became the most deadly mass shooting in modern American history.
“It feels way more personal,” said Zimmerman, a Lakers center. “It’s one of those things that’s like you never know how it feels until it happens to you and it feels like it happened to me.”
Zimmerman moved to Las Vegas when he was 6 and attended Bishop Gorman High and UNLV before leaving after his freshman year to declare for the NBA Draft. He was selected 41st overall by Orlando. After the Magic waived him this summer, the Lakers invited him to training camp, where he is trying to earn a roster spot.
A perk of playing for the Lakers was their annual preseason trip to his hometown. On Sunday, the Lakers will face Sacramento at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, one mile from the site of the shooting that left 58 people dead.
Zimmerman’s parents already planned to be at Sunday’s game. What should have been a happy reunion for the Lakers hopeful will instead be a somber return to his city.
“That’s something that’s going to affect Las Vegas forever,” he said. “We just want to keep it in our minds and let people know what’s going on to help make a difference.”
Word of the shooting first reached Zimmerman on […]