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JC Exclusive: Former UCLA Baller J.R. Sakuragi (Henderson) On Surviving Japan Earthquake


On March 11th, 2011 an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit off the east coast of Japan, triggering a 23-foot tsunami that destroyed Japan’s coast, killing hundreds of people.

The quake was one of the largest ever recorded in human history, and dangerous aftershocks continue to cause damage to the island nation.

This tragedy hits home for us at Jerseychaser.com, as two of my dear friends are currently in Japan playing professional basketball.

After days of non-communication, I finally received an email from former UCLA teammate and NBA player J.R. Sakuragi(Henderson), informing me that he and another former teammate of mine – Charles O’Bannon – were okay, but the country and the people of Japan were facing a hardship unlike anything they have ever seen.

Here is J.R.’s account of the events of March 11th:

I was in Tokyo when it happened. On the 14th floor of a hotel that was swaying so much that when we ran down the hallway we were being thrown side to side.

I was getting treatment at the time so I had to run down 14 flights of stairs with no shoes and a sprained mcl. Maids and guest were following us….they were crying which made it worse. I had to usher one maid down the stairs who was about to lose it.

Me and two other Americans on my team stayed outside for about 8 hours cause aftershocks were coming every 20 mins it seemed like. All night. Hung out at the gym we were supposed to play at that night.

They gave us Internet access so we could skype our family who were in Kariya (near Nagoya). All phone lines were down so we couldn’t call them after the quake hit.

Slept in the lobby of the hotel that night on the floor by the entrance way so we could run out if anything happened. We were able to get out of there the next day. Trains were PACKED that night.

I’m far away from the bad area now. Charles is in Tokyo so he is feeling all the aftershocks. It’s def chaotic near Sendai.

It’s still pretty bad here so keep us in your prayers please.


Insightful. Opinionated. Handsome.


  1. Jennifer March 15, 2011

    Wow.. Prayers for the people in Japan

  2. 02 Bruin March 16, 2011

    Glad to hear JR, Charles, and Alfred Aboya are all ok in Japan. Prayers from their Bruin family.


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