Joaquin Oliver, one of the 17 people killed in the Stoneman Douglas shooting on Feb. 14, was a big fan of the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade. The officiant who led the 17-year-old’s memorial service on Feb. 17 said Joaquin was excited for Wade’s return to the Heat, which happened a week earlier.
Joaquin’s connection to Wade will continue. His parents revealed Sunday on the Univision talk show Al Punto that their son was buried wearing his Dwyane Wade jersey.
Wade saw the news circulate on Twitter and responded Sunday afternoon by saying, “You’re about to make me cry.”
“You really can’t put that in words,” Wade said after practice Monday. “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.”
Wade also acknowledged that a tribute like this helps him realize how much he has impacted people’s lives during his 15-year NBA career in which he helped lift the Heat franchise to new heights and three NBA championships.
“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,” Wade responded. “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.”
On Saturday, Wade and the Miami Heat returned to AmericanAirlines Arena for their first home game since the shooting. Before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies, the team held a pre-game tribute at midcourt. Players and coaches of both teams held a Stoneman Douglas flag while the scoreboard above played a tribute video.
“Tonight we honor the 17 lives that were tragically lost in Parkland,” Wade said to open the tribute. “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.”
The Heat will also wear MSD patches on their jerseys for the remainder of the season.