The three American childhood friends had vacationed in Paris nearly three months ago, initially concerned about the wi-fi reception while sitting on a train. Soon enough, Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler became involved with foiling a terrorist attack on Aug. 21 after charging and subduing a gunman on a train.
The act rightfully earned them international praise, including a tribute from U.S. President Barack Obama. The latest entailed the Lakers honoring them in a brief ceremony during the Lakers’ eventual 97-85 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at Staples Center.
“Thank you for putting your lives at risk to save other lives,” Lakers president Jeanie Buss said.
The Lakers then presented Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler with Lakers jerseys with their last names and No. 1 emblazoned on the back. The three also met before and after the game with Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who said “it was awesome to see them.”
“We all would think in those type of situations, we would behave in the same way. But once you’re in that situation, it’s a completely different story,” Bryant said. “For those guys to unconsciously just react, not think about themselves and think about protecting others, it’s a story that should be sung every single day. Those are true role models. We want our kids to behave thinking about others and not thinking about themselves. In the moment when their life was on the line, they thought about others.”
Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler sounded humbled the Lakers thought of them.
“I’m starstruck,” Sadler said.
Sadler wore a Lakers T-shirt, the same one he wore shortly after stopping the attempted train attack in Paris. When he returned home to Sacramento in late August, city mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson honored Sadler with a Kings jersey before jokingly took offense he had worn the uniform of the team’s Pacific Division rival.
Sadley jokingly called himself a “traitor” before explaining he could not help himself cheering for Bryant growing up.
“I got ridiculed and stuff thrown at me,” Sadler said. “But it’s all good.”
That partly spurred Buss to honor the three Americans.
“A lot of people felt Anthony was a Lakers employee,” Buss said. “Lakers Nation felt very connected because wouldn’t be just like someone involved with the Lakers step out and be a leader. I heard so much from the fans that we had to do something special. Tonight we’re doing something special.”
The Lakers honored Sadler, Stone and Skarlatos between the first and second quarter. Sadler also took the half-court shot at the end of the third quarter, though both of his attempts did not come close toward hitting the rim. Still, Bryant high-fived Sadler, Stone and Skarlatos by their courtside seats shortly after the Lakers’ star hit a 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a 85-74 lead with 3:44 left.
“That was a great moment,” Bryant said. “They were encouraging me all night.”
The Lakers had scheduled this ceremony before the 2015-16 season. But this event coincided with terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 129 people, the most violent attack there since World War II.
“It makes me realize what could’ve happened if we didn’t do what we did that day,” Stone said. “Initially I was very angry. But I feel for the people of France. I feel very connected to them.”
All three then advised for everyone to live their lives as normal, while also staying on high alert for any potential terrorist activity.
“You have to be ready at all times,” Skarlatos said. “You never know when something life changing, for better or for worse, will happen.”
After boarding their first-class seats, they immediately noticed the gunman. So, Stone tackle the man, while Skarlatos and Sadler assisted.
“We’re not Superman. We’re not here saving people. But at the same time, it’s important not to be fearful and stand up to people,” Sadler said. “Otherwise the terrorists will win.”
Other events have transpired since Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler performed their heroic act.
Stone was stabbed multiple times amid in altercation while leaving a Sacramento bar.
“I almost feel 100% but I know I’m not. I watch it and take it easy,” Stone said. “I almost died twice in the 2 ½ months. It’s still reoccurring in my head.”
Skarltos is competing on “Dancing with the Stars,” prompting Buss to implore Lakers fans to vote for him.
But for one night, the three friends got together to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes.
“Having us all together again is rare these days,” Skarlatos said. “It’ll be great to watch some great basketball tonight. Hopefully the Lakers win.”
They all received their wish.