MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to console, comfort. He left inspired.
Speaking Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena, a day after he went to Parkland for the first day of school after the horrific Feb. 14 shootings that left 17 dead on campus, the Miami Heat guard said Wednesday's experience left him convinced about the future of the youths he visited with during the impromptu appearance.
"I went there with two things in mind," he said in the hours before his team played the Philadelphia 76ers. "One is to bring a moment of joy, knowing it was their first full day back at school, knowing it was going to be a tough day for a lot of the kids. And the second thing was to sit down with the leaders of the school and kind of talk to them about: What's the next steps, and what are they trying to accomplish and what are they trying to do? And, as an individual, how can I be involved to help them?
"So I got an opportunity to sit down and talk about a lot of great things they're doing, a lot of plans they have for the future that I'm excited about getting behind and supporting."
He said while many drew encouragement from his appearance, he drew inspiration from the discussion he had with students and school leaders about curbing school violence and addressing other social issues.
"They are well prepared and well aware of what they need to do and what they want to do and the change they want to see," he said. "And it's great. It's great to see that, because I come from a community in Chicago where our youth are getting killed daily and don't have the same voice, don't have the same light on them that Parkland has.
"And these kids understand what they have and they're taking other kids with 'em. So they've met with Chicago. They've met with the kids from the inner city of Chicago and trying to see how they can team up to do things. They're just on top of it. It was very impressive to be in a room, sitting there with these young future leaders. They definitely taught me some things that I didn't know. So they are very impressive."
Coach Erik Spoelstra and Heat players Kelly Olynyk, Justise Winslow and Udonis Haslem met with wounded students last week, but Spoelstra said Thursday he appreciated the magnitude of someone of Wade's celebrity status to lend his support and voice.
"It just gives you goose bumps," Spoelstra said.
"The resiliency of the kids up in Parkland really, truly is remarkable. It's inspiring. It's a call to action for all of us and we're honored to be just a small part of it, to support them and hopefully give them all a much bigger megaphone. We can help with that, but what bigger megaphone can you have than Dwyane Wade going down there and allowing their voices to be heard so many other places? That's powerful."