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The day after Dwyane Wade was reacquired by the Miami Heat, the most iconic player in franchise history stepped on the court for the first time in a neon pink and electric blue Vice jersey.
While watching the game from his home in Coral Springs, 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, who had become emotional when he learned Wade was returning, decided he needed that jersey to add to his collection.
On Saturday, 17 days after Oliver and 16 others were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, that wish was granted for Joaquin’s parents.
Wade presented Patricia Padauy and Manuel Oliver with a Vice jersey and custom-made sneakers following Miami’s 105-96 victory against the Detroit Pistons, Patricia, Manuel and their daughter, Andrea, were guests of Wade’s, who was touched when they recently revealed their son was buried wearing Wade’s Heat jersey.
The sneakers were in Stoneman Douglas colors and included the school’s logo. Joaquin’s name was printed on a black band at the top of the shoes.
“It’s a tough time for their family, it’s a tough time for a lot of families in Parkland,” Wade said. “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.”
Patricia, Manuel and Andrea attended the game and sat opposite the Heat bench. Andrea stood on the court by Wade during the national anthem.
The family was invited to the game and to meet Wade last week when Wade’s mother, Jolinda, and his sister, Tragil, visited them for more than two hours at their Coral Springs home. Jolinda and Tragil learned how much Joaquin idolized Wade. They watched a video of him pretending to be Wade while playing basketball as a child and Joaquin’s parents shared how emotional Joaquin got when Wade was traded to the Heat on Feb. 8.
“Dwyane made some type of very deep impression on his life when he was here,” Jolinda said.
Wade said he hopes he was able to, at least for a moment, take them away from the heartbreak and tragedy that has entered their life.
“They’re strong,” he said. “It’s a tough time for them, definitely. Just having a quick moment with them, to see a smile on their face, to hear stories and see them light up about their son -- you just take them out of it for a minute.
“They were telling me stories about what he said when I came back. … things he said about me. Just for a moment to give them that positive memory of their son was great.”
Wade was touched by those stories about the impact he had on Joaquin’s life. And the meeting reminded Wade how his contribution to South Florida and his impact on the community is far-reaching and perhaps even more important off the court.
“It’s bigger than basketball,” he said. “Obviously, I’m back here to do a job on the court, in this locker room with this team. But the timing was perfect for me to come back here for this city and the state. It’s like we both needed each other. I’m thankful I could come back and be able to be a leader and a voice in the community more so than even coming back here and scoring any baskets. That’s more important. The timing was right.”