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Utah Jazz notebook: Al Jefferson shows compassion for tornado victims

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19 2013 12:06 a.m. MST

Utah Jazz's Al Jefferson is shown in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 in Minneapolis.

Jim Mone, Associated Press

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SALT LAKE CITY — When asked what he did over the All-Star break, Jazz forward Al Jefferson said, “I got a little rest — had a chance to sleep in and didn’t have to worry about getting up early.’’

But he did a lot more than that.

Jefferson is from Prentiss, Miss., and while he was in his home state over the weekend, he visited Hattiesburg, which received the brunt of the tornado last week.

“I didn’t realize how bad the tornado was,’’ Jefferson said. “I went down there and looked at the neighborhood that it hit and it really touched my heart. I walked down there where people lost a lot and I had to do what I had to do and help somebody that really needed it.’’

Jefferson said he was really impressed about the way the afflicted families handled the devastation.

“Something like that happens . . . you walk in the living room and the whole wall is gone and they had the best attitude you can have,’’ he said. “They were more thankful and happy that nobody got hurt and nobody got killed. I would have been devastated if I’d have lost everything, but they had a great attitude about it. That type of attitude warmed me up to the point about how there’s bigger things in life.’’

Jefferson also bought a new car for a young woman who lost hers in the tornado.

“I wanted to go down and lend a helping hand,’’ he said. “She lost her car, a tree fell on it and smashed it . . . it gave her one less thing to worry about.’’

HAYWARD MAY PLAY: Gordon Hayward has missed 10 consecutive games after spraining his shoulder late in a win over Indiana in January.

But he may finally be back for Tuesday’s game against Golden State.

“I’m optimistic,’’ he said right before Monday night’s practice at the Zion’s Bank Center. “We’ll see how it goes. I’ll get out and run and get some contact and go from there tomorrow.’’

Hayward said the injury has been frustrating for him and that he’d never missed more than one game in his life.

Meanwhile, Mo Williams is getting closer to returning to play for the Jazz, but will still be out for several more games. He participated in Monday’s Jazz practice with a splint on his right thumb to keep it from getting re-injured.

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