June 14, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) Liberty guard Shavonte Zellous said time nearly stood still as she called her younger sister Sunday, desperate for her to answer her phone.

Zellous was afraid as she dialed her sister's number that she had been among the victims at the Orlando nightclub where Saturday night's mass shooting took place.

Mina had been at Pulse the weekend before and Zellous wasn't sure if she had been there that night. Her mom had called early Sunday morning as Zellous was on her way back from San Antonio after the Liberty completed a three-game road trip. She didn't know where Mina was.

''She didn't answer,'' Zellous said before New York faced Dallas on Tuesday night. ''The second time she picked up. Thank God she's OK. By the grace of God she was saved. I could have been one of the family members getting those calls. It was crazy.''

Writing in The Players' Tribune , a story that ran Tuesday, Zellous said that her 24-year old sister was supposed to go to the club that night to meet three of her friends, but got a call on the drive there from her boss that she was needed at work early the next morning. So Mina went home instead. Her three friends she was supposed to meet didn't make it home. Two of them were among the 49 victims and the third is ''fighting for her life.''

The veteran guard grew up a few minutes away from Pulse and still couldn't believe a place she knew as a sanctuary was now a place of absolute horror.

''Gay clubs are more than places where people dance and drink,'' Zellous wrote in The Players' Tribune. ''They are sanctuaries. They are communities. Gay clubs are where many go to find themselves or be themselves or commune with others like themselves, away from the judgment of the world outside.''

Zellous had never been to the club, but knew it well having grown up in the area.

''It's sad right now, I talk to my sister almost every day and she said the city looks creepy right now. I don't think the city will be the same anymore,'' Zellous said. ''If we can't go somewhere where we'll be ourselves where can we go?''

Teams across the league tweeted their support for Zellous and the Liberty had a moment of silence for the Orlando victims before their game against Dallas.

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