A mild left hamstring strain will keep Dwyane Wade off the court for the first time since his return to the Miami Heat last month, but nothing is stopping him from continuing to show support for the students and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the efforts being made nationwide to curb gun violence.
Over the weekend, Wade announced he and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, were donating $200,000 to help pay for students from his hometown of Chicago to join the gun control rally led by Douglas students March 24 in the nation’s capital.
Wade, who visited Douglas last week, said Monday he’s also decided to extend the “Parkland 17” art exhibit, which was on display inside a warehouse in Wynwood for 17 hours over the weekend, into this week so more people have the opportunity to pay homage to the victims and to reach out to state representatives in the fight for better gun control.
Wade, who met with many of the parents and family members of the 17 killed in the Valentine’s Day massacre at Douglas — including the parents of Joaquin Oliver, who was buried in his jersey, said he feels like the art exhibit has helped in the healing process.
“[Sunday] so many people showed up, it was a great response, so we wanted to extend it into this week,” Wade said Monday after shootaround at the Moda Center in Portland. “After Saturday’s [win over the Wizards] I got a chance to see all the kids that were there — all the kids I met with when I went to Parkland and a few others that are supporting and leading the charge of this march. Joaquin [Oliver’s] father and mother and his whole family were there. It was a good moment.
“It’s still tough, it’s still sad but it’s still a good moment to remember the kids, tell stories about them, have the students come and talk about them and just kind of find some joy in their stories and their lives and celebrating their lives. [It’s also about] getting a chance to write on the walls, saying something about them and having a call to action, call your representative and telling them how you feel. So a lot of different things like that, it was cool.”
When Wade announced the donation he and his wife were making Saturday night, he also challenged his NBA brethren to participate in supporting the movement. Oklahoma City’s Carmelo Anthony later announced on Twitter he was standing with Wade and donating $25,000 to help students from Baltimore in their efforts to march against gun violence. Anthony also said the NBA Players Association would match up to $25,000 for all player donations across the league.
“Sitting down talking to the kids at Stoneman I asked them what’s the best way for us to get involved,” Wade said of why he and his wife donated $200,000 to the cause. “They gave us a few different options. We had a few different things we wanted to do as well. We kind of felt this was the best way. We want to get a lot of people involved from the NBA standpoint and hopefully beyond that so I definitely wanted to get the ball rolling. They’re doing marches in each state, especially NBA cities. We’re trying to get individuals involved in those cities to be able to help kids go to those marches as well if they can’t go to D.C., to go to those marches. For us to be able to send kids to D.C., also to support kids in Chicago throughout this process is something that my wife and I wanted to do.”
Wade said he hasn’t given any thought to going to the march in D.C. himself. The Heat (36-31) play at Oklahoma City the night before the march and in Indianapolis they day after the march.
“As I told the [Douglas students], obviously most NBA players are in season,” Wade said. “We’re playing a game every other day. From that standpoint our presence may not be there, but we want to make sure the support is there even if we can’t be there in person.”
▪ Barring a last-minute surprise, the Heat is expected to let its $5.5 million injury exception for Dion Waiters to go unused when Tuesday’s midnight deadline passes.
General manager Andy Elisburg said the team had talked about using the exception if the right player became available via buyout. But after acquiring Wade and Luke Babbitt at the trade deadline the organization decided to move forward with its current roster.