South Florida superstar, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, responded to the overwhelmingly emotional news that Parkland massacre victim, Joaquin Oliver, 17, was buried in his Miami Heat basketball jersey.
First on Twitter, then to cameras, Wade shared his heartbreak at the untimely loss of the young immigrant from Venezuela, affectionately known to his Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School friends as “Guac” — along with 13 other teens and three teachers in the mass shooting in Florida less than two weeks ago.
However, the famed player also shared the bittersweet emotion he feels knowing that he brought young Mr. Oliver joy while he lived to the point that his family buried him in Wade’s jersey.
Yesterday, on the Univision talk show Al Punto Joaquin’s family broke the touching news about the attire in which they laid their beloved son to rest.
Wow, Joaquin Oliver's parents just said on @AlPunto that he was buried in a @DwyaneWade jersey
— rhetoric (@rhetoric2) February 25, 2018
When Wade saw the announcement, he immediately took to Twitter to share his heartfelt response — especially keen since he lost his own cousin to gun violence in 2016.
You’re about to make me cry this afternoon https://t.co/rWFsQcxlYc
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) February 25, 2018
Add your name to demand Trump & Congress act to prevent gun violence. THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE NOT ENOUGH!
“You really can’t put that in words,” Wade told reporters after the Heat’s practice today.
You hurt for the family and if you’re able to get an opportunity to speak to them, you just try to hope that the time where he was alive, that you was able to bring some form of joy to his life and something memorable, a story that you guys can talk about. I don’t even know the word for it. Like I retweeted on Twitter, I said, ‘You’re going to make me cry.’ It’s emotional even thinking about that, that his parents felt that burying him in my jersey is something that he wanted. I take a lot of pride in what I’ve done in this state and what I’ve meant for the youth, so I appreciate that.
As a new American, the teen cultivated a love for Wade’s basketball virtuosity that reflects the impact the NBA star has had on South Florida over the past 15 years, helping to lead the Heat to three NBA championships and supporting underserved youth with his Wade’s World Foundation.
As Wade puts it:
I definitely always said my life has always been bigger than basketball. Playing here and being able to do some of the things I’ve done on the court, and I think off the court just as equally has helped that for sure. My mom always told me that my life was bigger than basketball. And I always carry that around by the way I try to treat people. I treat them the way that I want to be treated or the way I want my kids to be treated. I also understand the position that I’m in. God has given me this unbelievable opportunity to play at this level, and I understand what comes with that from a role model standpoint.
Over the weekend, the Heat played the Memphis Grizzles at Miami’s AmericanAirlines arena. Both teams held a flag from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School while a video paid homage to the victims.
Introducing the tribute, Wade made a strong statement in support of Joaquin’s surviving classmates who have launched the #NeverAgain movement to establish sensible gun laws that will prevent further mass shootings:
Tonight we honor the 17 lives that were tragically lost in Parkland . . . We applaud the fearless students that are fighting for their lives. We also make sure that their voices are heard around gun safety. You are our nation’s inspiration. We salute you and we support you.
In the wake of the 59th shooting at or near a school in 2018 alone, the Parkland survivors have cornered the Russia-backed National Rifle Association in a defensive crouch.
Donald Trump, who last year signed an executive order overturning an Obama-era bill that helped prevent mentally ill people from accessing firearms, continues to shill for the NRA, even opposing an assault weapons ban, which is statistically proven to reduce mass shootings.
Instead of preventing kids, domestic abusers, terrorists and the mentally ill from accessing weapons of war like the AR-15 used in Parkland and most other mass shootings, Trump wants to increase the number of guns, by arming teachers.
The loving encouragement of role models like Wade billows the sales of the young activists and their supporters around the country. May we all take heart from his deeply felt words and join the fight.
To join or donate to the March for our Lives, that Parkland students are leading in Washington, D.C. and satellite cities around the country on March 24, click here.
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Follow Lucia Brawley on Twitter and at luciabrawley.com.