On Sunday, Parkland, Florida, mass shooting victim Joaquin Oliver‘s parents revealed they buried their 17-year-old son in his favorite Dwyane Wade basketball jersey.
Wade, who returned to the Miami Heat after playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this season, became emotional when he heard the news.
“It’s emotional even thinking about that, that his parents felt that burying him in my jersey is something that he wanted,” Wade told reporters on Monday. “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.”
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In turn, he dedicated the rest of the basketball season to the young fan and student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
It’s way BIGGER than basketball. We are the voices for the people that don’t get to be heard. Joaquin Oliver may you Rest In Peace and i dedicate my return and the rest of this Miami Heat season to you.
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) February 26, 2018
Oliver was a senior whose personality was larger than life, says family friend David Daboin.
“Everybody loved him,” says Daboin, who has known since he was about a year old. “He would always support people. He’d go to the games and cheer them on. He was a hype man. His personality could not be matched.”
Daboin said Oliver was like a guardian who was always willing to protect him if he ever needed it.
“He was only one call away,” he said.
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On Tuesday, Wade — a 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion — wrote Oliver’s name on his shoes for his first game at American Airlines Arena in Miami since returning to the team, according to several reports, including the Miami Herald.
“For me, it is just giving whatever I can to the people who believe in me,” Wade told reporters after his game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. “Especially the people who were happy about me coming back here and the people who embrace me the way that I could only dream of. I am just paying some due respect to him and his family.”
Wade scored 27 points Tuesday night — and gave the Heat a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers by hitting the game-winning shot.