Joaquin Oliver, a 17-year-old Venezuelan native who loved sports and R&B star Frank Ocean, was remembered at his funeral Saturday by hundreds who paid their respects to the student killed on Valentine’s Day at his Parkland high school.
At least 1,000 mourners filled the chapel at The Gardens of Boca Raton, some wearing black and others donning sports jerseys and blond hair in honor of Oliver’s love for Ocean, whose “Blonde” album inspired Oliver to dye his hair, according to friends.
Oliver was one of 17 students and teachers killed Wednesday at a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the worst high school shooting in U.S. history. Many of those attending the funeral wore jerseys with Oliver’s nickname, “Guac,” on the back. The jerseys ranged from Stoneman Douglas teams to professional basketball, football, baseball, soccer and hockey teams.
Oliver, who left Venezuela as a 3-year-old with his family and became a U.S. citizen last year, particularly loved basketball and Venezuela’s soccer team.
On Saturday, even the cars in the parking lots sported messages.
“Those who were lost will never be forgotten,” read the back window of a white Jeep parked at John Paul II Academy, where overflow traffic was diverted.
“Eagle pride,” read the hood of a red Lexus a few spots over.
The officiant leading Saturday’s service lauded Oliver as a saint and implored those in attendance to take the athlete’s cue and practice the “sport of love.”
He said Oliver, a passionate Miami Heat fan excited to see Dwyane Wade return to the team recently, was now playing on “God’s court.”
In printed cards distributed at the funeral, Oliver was described as an angel off to heaven.
“You were a precious gift, our joy, our dreams,” the card read. “You were a sparkle through the darkness; Our hope for a brighter tomorrow.”
As mourners inside the marble-walled chapel turned their heads upward, they could see little domes in the ceiling depicting a sunny sky full of cotton clouds.
“Long live Joaquin,” declared the officiant to a roaring applause and some tears.