Miami Heat players began wearing the patches on their uniforms Friday night they plan to wear the rest of this season to honor the 17 students and teachers who lost their lives on Feb. 14 in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
The patch was a black stripe with the letters “MSD” placed near their left shoulders.
The Heat is also planning a tribute to Douglas prior to its home game on Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I mean it's an absolute on honor for us to wear these patches and players will be wearing them on their jerseys as well,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I know I speak for everybody in that locker room and everybody in the organization, we are so very inspired by the leadership and courage and absolute fearlessness of the kids and young men and women at Stoneman Douglas. It's such a tragic event, but we hear their voices, loud and clear. And we are behind them and this is only the start.”
Spoelstra and other members of the Heat’s coaching staff wore pins with the name Stoneman Douglas and the school’s Eagles logo.
The tribute is one of numerous gestures of support shown by teams of all levels nationwide.
Major League Baseball teams wearing Stoneman Douglas caps and shirts during their Spring Training openers on Friday.
The Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals hosted the Douglas High baseball and softball teams at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter on Friday as well.
The Heat’s show of support meant a lot to guard Wayne Ellington, whose father fell victim to gun violence in November 2014 when he was shot and killed in Ellington’s hometown in Philadelphia.
"I’m glad the organization decided for us to do that,” said Ellington on Friday afternoon. “It just speaks volumes about the organization and shows we’re here for those victims of that traumatic situation that happened. We’re going to wear that patch with pride just to let the world know we’re here and they’re not by themselves. I speak for myself, but I’m sure all my teammates feel like we’ll do whatever we can to help."
Ellington has been very outspoken against gun violence over the past few years.
Ellington said Friday he’s glad that the dialogue around the country in regards to finding a solution to the growing number of incidents like the one that occurred at Douglas has picked up in the past two weeks.
"It’s so upsetting that something like this has to happen for that dialogue to pick up," Ellington said. "But I am very happy, and it’s been great now that it seems like everybody wants to come together to make a stand and try to figure out something to make a change somewhere."