Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade paid a surprise visit to students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, writing on Twitter that he is "looking forward to being more involved in the change that they will create" after a shooting at the school last month left 17 dead.
According to social-media posts from students, Wade arrived at the school during a lunch period and addressed a crowd in the cafeteria. Wednesday marked a return to normalcy at the Parkland, Fla., school, as it was the first full day with regular class schedules since the Feb. 14 mass shooting.
"I just wanted to come and say I'm inspired by all of you," Wade told the students as part of his remarks. "As someone out here in the public eye, I'm proud to say I'm from this state because of you guys, because of the future of this world because of you guys. So I just say thank you."
Wade later wrote on Twitter that he had a "great conversation" with students about "some important/impactful things that they have planned."
"Our conversation about bridging the gap between the students from Parkland, Florida and Chicago was really impressive," Wade wrote in a second tweet. "These young adults GET IT. They understand the power of their voices for the ones that often go unheard!"
The Heat was coming off games on back-to-back nights, including a 117-113 overtime road loss against the Washington Wizards, and had a day off Wednesday.
A 12-time NBA All-Star who was traded back to Miami on Feb. 8, Wade posed for pictures with faculty members and students, some of whom have used their platform in recent weeks to advocate for gun control legislation. Student survivors of the shooting have said they plan to participate in marches in Washington and cities around the country on March 24 to continue the conversation about gun violence issues.
The shooting has taken on a special significance in recent weeks for Wade, who has two children that go to school in Broward County. (Neither attends Stoneman Douglas.) The 36-year-old learned last month that one of the victims, a teenage fan named Joaquin Oliver, had been buried in his No. 3 replica jersey. Wade subsequently wrote Oliver's name on his shoes, met privately with Oliver's family and dedicated the remainder of the season to his memory.
"You hurt for the family," Wade told reporters late last month. "It’s emotional even thinking about that, that his parents felt that burying him in my jersey is something that he wanted."
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos also visited Stoneman Douglas High on Wednesday.
Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.