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Russell Westbrook and the Thunder help give OKC children a merry Christmas

Russell Westbrook and the Thunder helped make the holidays brighter for Oklahoma City families on Monday. (Twitter/@okcthunder)

Russell Westbrook is a ferocious and emotional competitor on the court, and can be particularly prickly when dealing with the media. Away from the arena, though, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar has fashioned a lower-wattage profile as someone who relishes chances to connect with the Oklahoma community, and to help those in need.

It’s no surprise, then, that Westbrook was front and center when the Thunder participated in their annual Holiday Assist event on Monday, partnering with Sunbeam Family Services’ Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program to take local children on a Target shopping spree. OK, well: it was kind of a surprise to a little girl named Heaven, who didn’t know she was scheduled to be Russ’ shopping partner for the evening until he ran up to her.

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After her initial shock at teaming up with the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, she warmed up as they made their way around the store:



From Nick Gallo of Thunder.com:

Russell Westbrook was the first to scamper through the curtains to find his assigned kids James and Heaven and their cart, and he took them around the store with the exuberance of a rookie. While he was picking out dolls on one aisle, fellow veteran Nick Collison was making laps, scoping out the clothes aisles with his kid, who was getting all of their Christmas list and more fulfilled.

Paul George was busy in the electronics aisle, and showed off his skills with a Bop It to 9-year old Makhila and 8-year old Lebron, whose grandmothers Pauline and Terese were shopping with Thunder Girl Anna. Their living room television recently went out, so all four of them had been piling up in the bed to watch television together in the evening.

On Monday, not only did Makhila and Lebron get to pick out everything on their wish list, but so did their grandmothers. When Anna brought them to the register, Pauline started breaking down in tears of gratitude.

“The kids are just ecstatic because they weren’t really looking for much,” Pauline said. “They’re just precious.”

Reserve point guard Raymond Felton got into the act, too, taking care of both the children with whom he was paired up with and their grandmother:




Let it never be said that the Thunder’s point guards aren’t all about getting into the spirit of giving.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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