Miami Heat basketball player Dwyane Wade met Saturday with the family of a 17-year-old fan who was killed in last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, after which he vowed to continue to “shine the light” on the victims and their cause.
The NBA star presented the parents and sister of Joaquin Oliver with a custom pair of sneakers featuring the teen’s name and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s eagle logo during Saturday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
Wade also gave them a rare, commemorative jersey that Oliver’s father said his son had longed for before the Feb. 14 attack. Joaquin, who was one of 17 killed in the shooting, was buried in a similar jersey bearing Wade’s name and number.
“I’m thankful they came to the game, thankful I got a chance just to talk to them and tell them my appreciation, to let them know we will continue to use our voice, to continue to shine the light on what they’re talking about and what they’re going through and what they’re dealing with,” Wade told the Sun Sentinel after the game. “Because it’s not just happening to them, it’s happening to all of us and it could be anyone of us.”
Joaquin’s sister, Andrea Ghersi, also stood with the basketball player during the national anthem ahead of the game.
“They were telling me stories about what he said when I came back, kind of the things he used to say about me,” Wade said of his time with Joaquin’s family. “Just for a moment, to give them that positive memory of their son, was great.”
The family’s appearance came a week after Wade spoke out against the school shooting during a pregame tribute to the victims and survivors. Wade has also dedicated the rest of his 15th NBA season to Joaquin by writing the teen’s name on his sneakers for every game.
“We applaud the fearless students that are fighting for their lives,” Wade said during the memorial. “We will also make sure that their voices are heard around gun safety. You are our nation’s inspiration. We salute you and we support you.”
Speaking to the Sentinel on Saturday, Wade said he is taking his vow seriously.
“As a figure in this state, as one of the top figures, it’s my duty to make sure I continue to let my voice be heard,” he said.
Wade’s sister Tragil and his mother Jolinda, who is a pastor in Chicago, also met with Joaquin’s family last week after hearing about the teen’s loyalty.
“My mom appreciated Joaquin’s family respecting me the way they have. I think it meant a lot to my mom,” Wade told the Miami Herald. “She wanted to go, understanding the family is grieving right now to give them some form of something, whatever it was, words, or anything. I thought it was great.”
Wade added that his family is hoping to help out the families of the other 16 people who were killed.