By Jill Fox
An assist from Dwyane Wade brought the crowd to their feet at Sunday’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School graduation ceremony.
Wade delivered a surprise commencement address to the class of 2019 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise where he admitted to the audience he was nervous, even mentioning that he tried out the speech on his wife who gave him the okay but encouraged him to dig a little deeper.
Wade, who retired from the Miami Heat at the end of their season, has been involved with the Parkland high school since the massacre on February 14. In his speech, he reminisced about his initial visit to the school last fall on the students’ first day back.
“I remember walking into the school and hearing absolutely nothing and thinking to myself, I’ve never heard this kind of silence in my life,” said Wade, who remembers immediately feeling butterflies in his stomach.
Wade has been active with the students since the school shooting in numerous ways. Besides his visits to the school, he has reached out to families, met with students about their thoughts on how to prevent gun violence and donated money to March for our Lives.
One of the 17 victims of the school shooting was Coral Springs resident Joaquin Oliver, who was a huge fan of Wade and was even buried in his jersey. In a Tweet just weeks after the shooting, Wade wrote, “Joaquin Oliver may you rest In peace, and I dedicate my return and the rest of this Miami Heat season to you.”
In his commencement speech, Wade promised, “I’ll try to continue to be the leader and the fighter that Joaquin Oliver thought I was.”
He went on to compare the graduation to his recent retirement from basketball when he spoke about one chapter closing. He finished with a “We Fight” mantra and chanted MSD Strong, as the BB&T Center erupted in applause.
“What I loved and appreciated most is that you all became advocates. You became the faces and the voices for kids all around the world. I’m so proud to say the words MSD strong.”
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.