When Dwyane Wade was told Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver was buried wearing his No. 3 Miami Heat jersey, it reduced the NBA legend to tears.
Oliver was one of 17 students and faculty killed during the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. The 17-year-old became a fan of Wade’s after moving to Miami from Venezuela at the age of 3.
Wade acknowledged that he was almost at a loss for words when he heard that Oliver’s family buried him in Wade’s jersey.
“You really can’t put that in words,” Wade told reporters Monday in a post-practice media session, a day after Oliver’s parents told his story and mentioned his admiration of Wade on a Univision talk show. “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 were 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,” Wade said. “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.”
Wade won three NBA championships with the Heat during his time with the team from 2003 to 2016. After a short stint with his hometown Chicago Bulls, he started this season with former Heat teammate LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A trade a couple of weeks ago brought Wade back to Miami. He was only a few days into his return when the massacre at the Parkland school occurred.
Wade has echoed the calls of survivors for stricter gun laws. Speaking to the crowd at American Airlines Arena before the Heat’s game Saturday night, Wade looked on as players from both teams held a Stoneman Douglas banner and said one of their goals was to “make sure that [the students’] voices are heard around gun safety.”
Later Monday, Wade offered a tribute to Oliver on Twitter and intensified his promise to continue to speak up in the face of people telling him and other athletes that they should not speak out on topics outside of the sports world.
Wade specifically referenced Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s sharp criticism of James speaking out against President Trump, telling James to “shut up and dribble.”
“Joaquin was one of many that I heard was excited about my return to Miami and yesterday was buried in my jersey,” Wade wrote in a tweet attached to a photo of Oliver. “This is why we will not just SHUT up and dribble!” In another tweet, Wade promised to continue speaking out and dedicated the rest of his season to Oliver.
During the Heat’s Tuesday night home game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wade made it clear that his dedication was no empty promise. Wearing shoes bearing Oliver’s name, Wade delivered a throwback performance. He scored 27 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter, and hit the game-winning jump shot with just six seconds left on the clock, lifting the Heat to a 102-101 victory.