MIAMI, FL — Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade now has something more to play for when he takes the court. The newly returned Miami Heat player was so moved after learning that one of the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victims was buried in Wades’s #3 jersey that the basketball legend promptly dedicated the rest of his season to 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, who had been ecstatic over Wade’s return to Miami.
"You really can’t put that in words," Wade told reporters after Monday’s practice. "You hurt for the family. If you ever get the opportunity to speak to them, you just try to hope the time where he was alive that you were able to bring some type of joy to his life and something memorable. A story that his family and you guys can talk about."
On Sunday, the Stoneman Douglas hockey team improbably won the Florida state hockey championship and the entire team placed their medals on the 17 makeshift crosses and Jewish stars that adorn the growing memorial for their fallen classmates and faculty members.
While nothing can ease the pain of the Stoneman Douglas community after a lone gunman cut short the lives of so many before they had even gotten to taste life, such gestures have helped begin the healing process for the school’s 3,300 students, many of whom were apprehensive about this week’s phased return to the tree-lined campus.
"This wasn’t for us. This was for the 17 victims. We played for them," Joey Zenobi declared after his fourth-seeded Stoneman Douglas Eagles routed Tampa Jesuit 7-4 in the afternoon finals after upsetting top-ranked East Lake 3-1 earlier in the day at a minor-league hockey rink near Fort Myers.
When the Baltimore Orioles took the field against the Tampa Bay Rays for a spring training game last week, they were wearing Stoneman Douglas High School caps to honor the victims and give courage to the survivors.
The Rays were also wearing them. In fact, all 30 Major League Baseball teams have worn caps honoring the victims.
The Stoneman Douglas girls softball team and boys baseball teams each were welcomed by the Miami Marlins during their spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals. They also got to meet with players and new team owner Derek Jeter.
Before his death, 17-year-old Oliver was excited about Wade’s return to the Miami Heat.
Wade returned to the Heat about a week before the Valentine’s Day shooting. He responded to the news of Oliver being buried in a Wade jersey by tweeting, "You’re about to make me cry this afternoon."
After practice, Wade tweeted that he would dedicate the season and his return to Oliver.
The Germain Arena is also hosting Florida High School State Hockey Championships- Stoneman Douglas is scheduled to play their semi final there this morning. Incredibly sobering moment during an otherwise fantastic and fun game of hockey last night. Made it very real. Just kids. pic.twitter.com/olm1f8a8Br— Joel Neill (@joelneill) February 25, 2018
Before the Stoneman Douglas team took the ice in their semifinal against East Lake, they found a typed note addressed to Stoneman Douglas hockey players.
"Sending thoughts of peace and comfort to all of you, your families, friends and the Parkland community," the note read.
It was signed simply: "Your East Lake hockey family."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Anthony Santander #25 and Luis Sardinas #3 of the Baltimore Orioles pause for a moment of silence to honor the 17 victims at Stoneman Douglas High School prior to a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium on Feb. 23 in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)