“I remember walking to the school. And I remember hearing absolutely nothing,” Wade said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’ve never heard this kind of silence before in my life.’ ”
Wade said he was initially unsure of how he could help the students and teachers that had been affected by tragedy.
“What started going through my mind was, ‘How do I dare come here and act like I know what you guys have been going through?' ” he added. “How narcissistic of me to think that I can come here and make a difference because I’m good at my sport?”
That March 7 visit caused a stir at the school, and at one point Wade addressed a crowded hallway of students and staff.
“I just wanted to come here today and hopefully for a moment, for a second, bring a little bit of this,” he said. “Bring a little excitement, bring a little joy. What you guys have been going through and how resilient you have been has been amazing from afar. I just wanted to come and say I’m inspired by you. As someone out here in the public eye, I’m proud to say I’m from this state, because of you guys, because of the future of this world, because of you guys.”
One of the Parkland victims, 17-year old Joaquin Oliver, was particularly fond of the NBA star and was buried in a Wade jersey. Two weeks after the shooting, in a Feb. 27 game against Philadelphia, Wade wrote Oliver’s name on his shoes and dedicated the rest of his season to his memory.
“Life is bigger than basketball,” Wade told the Miami Herald. “This is definitely bigger than the game. Even though the game has brought certain people to admire me, this definitely makes it bigger than that. [What they did burying their son in my jersey,] I don’t even know how to put it into words or thought at all. In a tough moment for a family, there’s so many decisions that you have to make. And for me to be a part of that — that he would have wanted to be buried in my jersey — that’s mind-boggling to me.”
Oliver’s sister later appeared in an emotional Budweiser commercial with Wade, giving him one of Joaquin’s youth basketball jerseys to add to the collection of uniforms he had amassed on his farewell tour.
Wade announced in September that the 2018-19 NBA season would be his last. He played his final NBA game on April 10.