9/11 is one of those moments when we all remember where we were, the sporting world included. From Jeff Van Gundy losing a best friend in the Twin Towers to Kevin Durant hearing American Flight 77 slamming into the Pentagon, here are first-person accounts of that day from athletes, coaches and commissioners from across the sporting world.

9/11: The Sporting World Remembers Slideshow


9/11: The Sporting World Remembers

Athletes, coaches and executives look back at that day.


Derek Jeter

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was at his Manhattan apartment on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001:

"I had a message from Jorge [Posada] when I woke up. He said to let him know if I had heard anything about our game being canceled because something had happened at the World Trade Center. I turned on the TV and that's when I was made aware of it. Later that day I went outside for some food and the streets were so quiet. It was an eerie feeling."

A few days after the attacks, several Yankees visited a gathering place for rescue workers and families of victims. "It was uncomfortable. That's the best way to put it. Because we're baseball players, people always look at us as being heroes and to have an opportunity to meet those families and firefighters and EMS workers. They were the true heroes at the time. We were visiting families and people who lost loved ones. What do you say to them? "It probably benefited us probably even more than the families themselves, because we had an opportunity to hear how much we meant to them, that we give them something to cheer about for three hours a day. It was an experience I'll always remember, but it was uncomfortable." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports senior editor Steve Henson


Mark Jackson

Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson is a native of New York and was a point guard for the Knicks preparing for the NBA season on Sept. 11, 2001. "I was living in Saddle River, N.J. I remember my wife calling me down to the kitchen to watch the TV. As soon as I went into the kitchen we were basically speechless. We basically sat there frozen in the kitchen. We couldn't believe. We were thinking a plane accidentally ran into the towers. We were physically speechless with all the details continuing to come and then watching the second plane and watching the towers fall. "Being from New York City, there is no way in the world that you think that could happen. You can't even put it into words. You grow up and think that the towers would be there forever and nothing like this could ever happen. And to witness it ... and to know people that were impacted by it whether loss in lives or family members or friends ... to this day we still fill the sting of it. "I visited Ground Zero, the fire department, the police stations just to see the hard work and the people that were impacted. You remember that the rest of your life." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NBA reporter Marc J. Spears


Bud Selig

Bud Selig was in his fourth season as commissioner of Major League Baseball on Sept. 11, 2001:
“I still have the poem, the one Jack Buck composed on loose-leaf pages, held in trembling hands and read that night in St. Louis, when we would play ball again. I'm not ashamed to tell you I broke down listening to Jack, wondering about the world and the nation and our game's place in them. When he'd looked up into the people's faces, the signs honoring the innocent, the flags, he'd said, "I don't know about you, but as for me, the question has already been answered: Should we be here? Yes!" The crowd cheered its agreement. That did it for me. I'd watched the towers fall from Milwaukee, from the saddle of my exercise bike. Sue, my wife, had rushed into the room and cried, "What the heck is going on?" I told her I didn't know. Something awful. We'd have to shut down baseball for a while, gather ourselves, try to help. We'd play again when it was right, when the country was ready for it again, when we were ready. I was worried. Nervous. I wanted baseball to assist the healing, no matter how small. I didn't know if it could. Six days later, we opened the gates. On the same television, I turned from channel to channel, game to game, seeking comfort in the decision to resume the season. I came upon Jack in his Cardinal-red sport coat and damp eyes, and watched the people lean into his words. I knew we'd done the right thing. It was time to play. The games in New York would come later, when hope mingled with grief so raw. But I knew we'd done right by the people, as best we could. Jack picked up the phone the next morning with a gravely hello. "I can't tell you how much your poem meant," I told him. "To me. To everybody." "I appreciate that," he said. "Would you like it? I wrote it out." Weakened by lung cancer and worse, Buck sent me those wrinkled pages, apologizing, "I hope you can read my writing." Jack passed away not a year later. His words remain. I have them right here." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports MLB reporter Tim Brown


Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant was in class as a 12-year-old seventh grader at Walker Mill Middle School in Capitol Heights, Md., just 12 miles from the Pentagon when terrorists crashed American Airlines Flight 77 on Sept. 11, 2001. "I heard a big boom and I saw some smoke and I was like, 'What?' They let us out of school early, and they said the Pentagon got hit. My mom said [on the phone] she could see the smoke from her job, so I was worried about her. My grandma came and picked me up and we heard planes flying over. Everyone was scared. It was crazy. It was like something out of movie. "It was tough for our neighborhood for something to hit so close. Something so important got destroyed and so many people died from it. It was crazy. All I could see was smoke. The Pentagon was 10 minutes away from where I lived. You jump on the highway and you can be right there. "It affected us a little bit by us being so cautious about everything. I was paranoid about stuff. The first time I got on a plane was a year after that. I was scared. It was me and my mom together, and we were both scared. It was tough. That's the world we live in; people are going to do stuff like that. But it brought us together as a country. We got to continue to lean on each other." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NBA reporter Marc J. Spears.


Brian Stann

UFC light heavyweight Brian Stann was a third year at the Naval Academy, where he played football: "On that particular day, I went to the barber shop to get a haircut after class. The barber shop was closed down and everyone was called to a room. I went to my company area. We went to a room and we saw a replay of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. I thought it was a bad Nicholas Cage movie. Then the guys were telling me it really happened, the guys who had not been in class and had seen the news. So that day our classes were immediately canceled and everyone was put on watch. "They updated everyone at Stand 2 in the Hall. We had to watch every entrance because the Naval Academy was close to the Pentagon and we were thought to be a possible target. The most interesting thing that evening was at chow. The commandant who is now a General in charge of all forces in Afghanistan, General Allen, said that we will not allow these terrorists to disrupt our training. All classes and training will start back tomorrow and nothing else will change. We were scheduled to play Northwestern at home that week, but because of 9/11, that game was canceled and we had a week off." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports UFC reporter Dave Meltzer


Jay Fiedler

When the first plane struck Tower 1 on September 11, 2001, Jay Fiedler, then quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, thought immediately of one of his best friends from college. "That day was really rough for me because one of my best friends, Darius Kirksey, worked for the Cantor Fitzgerald investment firm in the Twin Towers. Darius and I played together and roomed together in college and he had worked for Cantor Fitzgerald practically from the time he got out of school. The firm had five floors of employees at the top of Tower 1. More than 600 people from the firm died in the attacks. For hours, I couldn’t get a hold of Darius. … Finally, before I talked to him, some friends let me know that he was OK. "When we finally came back to play, it was great to feel like you were part of the healing for the whole country. To run out on the field carrying the flag, to see the patriotism, the flyover … the national anthem was really special to hear that day. Once the game started, it was back to normal." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NFL reporter Jason Cole


Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson was in his fourth year in NASCAR's Nationwide Series on Sept. 11, 2001: "I'll always in the morning pop the Today show on and watch, and when the first plane hit I was at my house getting ready to leave for the gym and saw it and was left with the impression as I was walking out the door, there was confusion, so I was left with the impression that it was accidental plane crash and they were looking into it and really didn't know what was going on at that point. "So I hopped in my truck, drove over to the gym and walked into the lobby of the gym and as I walked in I'm walking by the televisions at the check-in desk and people are gathered around and literally watched the second plane strike live on TV. At that point, clearly knew – everybody I think watching knew that it was more than an accidental plane crash. My heart sunk and fear ran through my veins at that point not knowing what's going on, what to expect, but under the impression that it clearly was a terrorist attack, and stood there in the lobby for – I don't think I even worked out – I just stood there in total shock for an hour or more with the other members of the gym and just watched things unfold on TV." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NASCAR editor Jay Hart


Glen Mason

Glen Mason, then head football coach at the University of Minnesota, was watching film with his staff. "I walked down the hall to get a cup of coffee. My secretary wasn't at her desk and neither were any of the other secretaries. I looked in the players' lounge and they all were in their watching TV. I walked in and said, 'What the heck is going on here?' They said a plane just flew into the World Trade Center. I sat down to watch for a couple minutes. I sent one of our GAs [graduate assistants] to get our other coaches and we watched a while. One coach said they needed to get back to work, that we had practice. I said, 'Fellas, we aren't practicing today.' " – As told to Yahoo! Sports college football reporter Tom Dienhart


Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy lost his college roommate and longtime friend, Farrell Lynch, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald and died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Van Gundy resigned as coach of the Knicks several weeks later. "My only regret was that he was a better friend to me than I was in return. He started in construction, and went on to do great things at Cantor Fitzgerald, but he never got caught up where he was working. He'd stop down to see me at the Garden before a game, and always would say something to me before a game that would have a way of making you feel good, making you laugh. "In 1993, when the first bomb went off at the World Trade, he had taken that long walk down from the 104th floor, in the dark, and I'll never forget what he told me the next day. He joked that he was going to buy a parachute in case it happened again. And I still wonder now: What if? What if? "When asked about it, I made the mistake of bringing him up when I resigned from the Knicks. For that, I still feel badly. It wasn't something I wanted to go into. I don't know what part it played in my decision, really. I just remember landing back in New York after four games in five nights on the road, we had won the last three, I think, and not feeling that brief moment of accomplishment about what your team had just done. We had a bad day of practice, where I wasn't any good at all, and I just knew it was the right time. I was used to doing my job one way, with a complete laser-like focus, and that wasn't there. But the one mistake I made was bringing that into play, and I still regret it." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski


Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera has been a New York Yankees pitcher since 1995: "My mother-in-law was watching the news and I heard her screaming. I got up, and she said something happened with the towers. I looked out the window, and it was a beautiful day. I went up and washed my face, and when I came back down, I actually saw the second plane hit the tower – the second tower. I knew that wasn't just an accident, that it was something else. "What I remember of those days is that the whole country got together. That's a beautiful thing. I wish it was still like that, but it's not. Everybody helping everyone, it didn't matter what race or color you were. We were here for one nation and fighting and trying to move forward, and that's exactly what we did. "The way we won the games, we were able to give the city of New York time to forget about what happened for a little bit. Even though we lost the World Series, we did our best. I believe, to me, that was the best World Series ever played. We fell short, but at the same time, we did everything in our power to win and give New York what it deserved." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports senior editor Steve Henson


Curtis Strange

Curtis Strange, the captain of the U.S. squad in the Ryder Cup, which was moved from the fall of 2001 to the fall of 2002:

"I was walking to the golf shop at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to do an outing, and my phone rang. It was Julius Mason [from the PGA of America, which put on the Ryder Cup]. We were supposed to leave in about two weeks for the Ryder Cup. I stood there at the golf shop and watched the towers fall. We kind of meandered out to the practice tee and I was hitting a few balls. Somebody said, 'Does this mean anything to the Ryder Cup?' And it was the first time I thought it might affect us. You don't think about that. You think about the towers falling. You're trying to get home. "I started to drive Wednesday morning to St. Louis with an agent/friend. I had to get there because ABC [he was a broadcaster] was doing the World Golf Championship. I started to drive and about midday, they cancelled the event, so I kept driving all the way [home] to Williamsburg, Va. During that drive, which was 12 hours, I was on the phone constantly. In fact, we had to stop at WalMart to get more batteries for the phone, or we had to find chargers. I talked to every player. I talked to the PGA of America. I talked to [PGA Tour commissioner] Tim Finchem. I really didn't feel, in my heart of hearts, that we should play. It was the right thing [to postpone the competition], and I still believe that. "That first day, everything was so quiet; it was eerie. There wasn't a plane in the sky." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports Golf editor Michael Arkush


James Farrior

Pittsburgh linebacker James Farrior was playing for the New York Jets on Sept. 11, 2001: "The thing you really understood better than ever after the attacks is how much of a sanctuary the football field is, even for the fans. When you're out on the field, you can escape all these other things that are going on in life. That was really important after those first couple of weeks of dealing with the attacks. It was traumatic. Everything in your life changed. "Those couple of days when we went to the facility, not knowing what was going on, it was really hard to adjust. Guys weren't at normal tempo, you couldn't really think about football with everything else going on, wondering if you were needed somewhere else to help or if you should be home with your family. When we finally did play, we went up to New England and we realized what our role was. We were there to help people get back to normal, get people's minds off the attacks and get them back to thinking about life, about healing and moving on, even if it was just for a minute. Once you started playing, it was pretty much a normal game and that was good. You forgot about the things going on around you. But I remember how special it was before the game, seeing [Patriots offensive lineman] Joe Andruzzi run out on the field carrying two American flags. He was from a family of New York firefighters, so that was something really emotional. The one thing I remember most was singing the national anthem and thinking what a great country we live in. I've played in a lot of big games, Super Bowls, playoff games and things like that. That ranks right up there with the biggest games I've played." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NFL reporter Jason Cole


Brian France

Brian France became chairman and CEO of NASCAR in 2003, a role his father held on Sept. 11, 2001: "We were scheduled to race at New Hampshire that next weekend. We got together as a group and first and foremost, we knew we had to show respect and memorialize those thousands of people who had lost their lives and the sacrifices made by the first responders and all of the law enforcement, fire and safety, military and emergency personnel that were so closely involved. "I recall my father recounting tragic events that had taken place over the course of his lifetime, such as Pearl Harbor and the JFK assassination, and how decisions were influenced by those events. We knew in our hearts the best decision was to postpone our race and reschedule it for a later date. The country needed some time to grieve and to heal. When we went back to racing the following week at Dover, there was a real sense of appreciation leading up to the event. We felt proud to have the opportunity to participate in our sport and I really believe the industry came together. We were all one voice in paying tribute to the victims and we celebrated our freedom of being Americans." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NASCAR editor Jay Hart


Jorge Posada

New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was at a hospital on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, tending to his son, who had a rare brain disease: "As my son was getting better, he wanted to watch some kind of show on videotape. So the TV came on and I saw the first plane go in the first tower. I didn't think anything of it. I thought it was a movie. I put the tape in, and he wanted me to rewind it so he could watch from the beginning. As I was rewinding the tape, I saw the second plane go in, and I was like, 'Something is going on.' I called home, I called Derek [Jeter] and I called my wife. I started hearing noises in the hallways. I thought the worst was coming." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports senior editor Steve Henson


Kemba Walker

Charlotte Bobcats rookie guard Kemba Walker was in his sixth-grade class in the Bronx when the airliners crashed into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. "I was in the class sitting. The teachers said that the towers just got knocked down. They didn't explain it. It was kind of confusing. I was like, 'Why?' My teacher told us that the airplanes crashed into them, but they didn't tell us about the [terrorists] or anything like that, or that they hijacked the plane. "A lot of the kids started to call their parents. My mom was at work and my dad was at work. I called them from a cell phone. Since my parents were at work, I just stayed there until after school. I went home, saw it on the news and said, 'Wow.' "I just remember a couple months before it happened we took a trip to the Towers and saw them. We were outside of them. When they got knocked down, it was crazy. I didn't know anyone who got hurt, but I'm a New York guy and I know the Towers were a special part of New York. It hit me pretty bad." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NBA reporter Marc J. Spears


Barry Alvarez

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez was the Badgers' head football coach on Sept. 11, 2001: "I can recall sitting in the office and one of my coaches talking about it. I walk into an assistant's office and he has a TV on. I can remember that second plane coming in and hitting the building. I just looked at him and said, 'We are at war.' I felt like we were at war. That shallow feeling you have when you see something like that. Then, how are you going to respond, how are you going to react? "We were concerned because a number of our players were from the East Coast. Fortunately, we didn't have anyone on the team directly impacted. No relative or families were hurt. We tried to address our players on what was going on and how it affected us. "We were supposed to play Western Kentucky. But our first game [after the attacks] was against Penn State. I remember the security and heightened awareness when we went there." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports college football reporter Tom Dienhart


Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky's best friend, Ace Bailey, was on United Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center: "I think about it every year. ... It was just ... It was just ... You stop. There's nothing to say or think. Like all the other victims and families and friends, it's just overwhelming -- not only for them but for North America. You just stop and ponder and think, 'Why? And how come? And why them? And why that time?' [Ace] did so many good things to so many people." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NHL reporter Nicholas J. Cotsonika


Ronde Barber

Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber was beginning the his fifth season in the NFL on Sept. 11, 2001: "You got a real sense of how the country changed by just getting on an airplane. Our first game back, we went to Minnesota to play. We fly charters, so it's still not like how your average person travels. Before 9/11, you would just show up at the plane, park and just roll on there. It was like our own little club kind of thing where we didn't have to worry about anything. Right after the attacks, everything changed. There was all this security, even for our charter flights, like someone was somehow going to take over a plane full of football players. It wasn't a big deal; it was just different. You just understood how different life was going to be going forward because of the attacks, because of the level of scrutiny and fear everyone was going to have to live with. To this day and probably for evermore, we’re going to be reminded of what happened just by the way we travel. "Playing [on Sept. 23] was important because it seemed to help people get back to some level of normalcy. It was OK for people to relax again for a minute, enjoy life. It was therapeutic for the nation to get back to living life as normal as possible. I think the NFL was that first significant sign to people that it was OK to have some fun for a little while. There was still plenty of work to do and a lot of very serious issues to unravel, but for a couple of hours or so, it was OK to take your mind off that and enjoy a game. As a football player, it meant a lot to be part of that little bit of healing for the nation." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NFL reporter Jason Cole


Todd Berry

Todd Berry was head football coach at Army on Sept. 11, 2001: "My first year there at Army, we took the field several times at opponents' venues, and there were several times where we got booed – not necessarily booing the Academy, maybe just booing the opponent. We came on the field for UAB [on Sept. 22, the first game after the attacks], and instead of getting booed, we got a standing ovation. "All the freshmen and sophomores, all their questions had to do with, 'What does [9/11] mean to me? How is this going to impact me?' All the upperclassmen were saying, 'What can we do?' "After 9/11, it was the opposite when we were recruiting. "A lot of the kids felt a patriotic obligation at that point of time. "They were basically giving up their college experience to do something patriotic and really noble. Unfortunately, it took an event like 9/11 to fully appreciate what kids like that do." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports college football reporter David Fox


Amy Alcott

Amy Alcott was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999: "I was at home in Los Angeles. It was early in the morning. I came downstairs and turned on the 'Today' show and then switched quickly to CNN . I was in shock as the second plane hit. The terrible loss of humanity. I felt a very dark energy even being on the other coast. I remember walking down to the beach and staring at the waves for a long time in the afternoon. I had a moment of spiritual connection with life and the sea. I repeated it the next day except I hit golf balls into the ocean at low tide [something I have always done]." -- As told to Yahoo! Sports golf editor Michael Arkush


Jeff Burton

Jeff Burton was in his eighth season in NASCAR’s Cup Series on Sept. 11, 2001: "I had taken my daughter to school and was listening to the radio as it came on. I went home and was at home when the towers fell. I was pissed. I wanted revenge right then and there. And then I wanted us to race. I didn't want them to cancel the [New Hampshire] race. I wanted to show the world that they couldn't keep us from doing what we were going to do, although I did understand why people didn't want to race. "It was an inspiring weekend [when racing returned at Dover] – the flyover, the National Anthem, the fans, the 'U-S-A.' We've not only lost touch [with that feeling], it seems like we've forgotten it. To see how divided our country is today is really disappointing and sad. We need to all have some accountability. We talk a lot about Washington, but we need to quit dividing. It's OK to disagree, that's what makes us a great country. But my God, do we have to be so ugly about it?" -- As told to Yahoo! Sports NASCAR blogger Jay Busbee

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Photos by Getty Images unless noted otherwise.

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