Sports | June 3, 2019 1:06 pm

Dwyane Wade Surprised Parkland, Florida Students With Graduation Speech

Wade said he was "so proud to say the words 'MSD strong'"

Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade has been a vocal supporter of the #MSDStrong movement. (Michael Reaves/ Getty)
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The seniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were surprised by Dwyane Wade on Sunday when the retired basketball star took the stage to give a commencement speech at their graduation.

The Miami-area NBA legend — who called it a career at the end of the regular season in April — is no stranger to the Parkland, Florida students who lost 17 of their classmates and faculty members in February 2018 to a school shooting. Wade showed up on their first day back after the tragedy last year and has been a vocal supporter of the gun control advocacy initiated by students ever since.

He reminisced on the moment he first walked the halls of the school in his speech, USA Today reported.

“I immediately started getting butterflies in my stomach,” Wade said. “I remember being so nervous to see and meet everybody. What would I say? I mean, I grew up in the inner city of Chicago, and I’ve experienced a lot of awful things. But I’ve never experienced anything to the magnitude that you guys had just experienced. I remember walking in and meeting the staff and actually being surprised that everyone was excited to see me.

” … I realized that at that moment, we all had a responsibility. A responsibility to be seen, to be heard, to stand up and stand tall, for the ones that no longer had a voice.”

Wade learned soon after the shooting that one of the victims, Joaquin Oliver, was an enormous fan of his, enough so that his family decided to bury him in his No. 3 Miami Heat jersey, prompting the star to meet with them privately and dedicate the rest of his season to him.

“Thank you for reminding me of my purpose,” Wade said Sunday. “I’ll try to continue to be a leader and a fighter that Joaquin Oliver thought I was. And I’ll keep reminding you of how the strength that was shown, the leadership that was shown — from the students, from the staff, from the parents, from this community — was powerful. And it is powerful. What I love most, and appreciated most, was 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.’”

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