On Sunday, May 18, ESPN’s Outside the Lines (9 a.m. ET) and SportsCenter (10 a.m.) will air an “#SCFeatured” story about an iconic photo that was seen around the world one year ago. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, recently named NBA MVP, narrates the piece (see video trailer below).
The photo, taken by Paul Hellstern of the Daily Oklahoman newspaper, shows a man, Jim Routon, and a child, Hezekiah Darbon, embracing amid the devastation of the May 20, 2013, tornado that ravaged Moore, Okla. Routon, Hezekiah’s neighbor and friend, was hugging the child after Hezekiah emerged from his elementary school that had been hit by the EF-5 tornado.
“After we learned the back stories of the two people involved in the photo, we just thought it might be a unique way to tell a story about a tragic event – a different take on a survivor story,” said Scott Harves, producer of the piece for ESPN’s Features Unit. “We learned that they were neighbors whose families had bonded over their love of football.”
Harves said that Hezekiah’s family, which moved from Louisiana, loves LSU football, while Routon, a native Oklahoman, prefers the Oklahoma Sooners.
“There’s probably more trash talking between Hezekiah’s dad and Jim than anything, and Jim is now trying to convert Hezekiah into an Oklahoma fan as well,” Harves said. “We also learned that each family has stories involving tragedies in their past, so it was almost fate that Jim was there to help out Hezekiah in that situation.”
Hellstern, who has covered many tornadoes during his career, also is a central part of the feature. In addition to his photo upon which the feature is based, the piece includes video Hellstern shot that day.
“As the photographer who took the picture, he’s the one who puts us there, not only his photos but his video,” Harves said. “He happened to be in that place at that time.”
For Harves, the parent of two children, the piece hits home.
“If you can’t be there when your children need you most, it’s nice to know you have a neighbor you can count on because that’s really what it was about,” he said. “To me, it’s a story of friendship, and one of the greatest examples of getting to know your neighbor and the kind of people who would do anything for each other.”