Dwyane Wade surprised seniors graduating from Parkland, Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Sunday. The recently retired Miami Heat star gave a commencement speech to the departing graduates.
Wade has been connected with the school since a shooting there claimed the lives of 17 students last year. In his speech, Wade touched on the trauma suffered by the students and how he felt visiting the school in the days immediately after the shooting. He ultimately tied these stories together using themes of moving forward into an uncertain future and the value of perseverance.
"I've never experienced anything to the magnitude that you guys just experienced," he said before reflecting on his initial visit to the school. "I remember walking to the school, and I remember hearing absolutely nothing. I remember thinking to myself, 'I've never heard this kind of silence before in my life.'"
Wade led the students and their families through a chant that he used to perform with the Miami Heat. He said that they used it to psych themselves up before the 2013 NBA Finals.
"To the last man, to the last minute, to the last second, we fight, we fight, we fight!" he shouted along with the students.
Wade closed his speech with a nod to the slogan that cropped up around the school and its student body in the wake of the tragedy.
"MSD Strong," Wade said, to cheers from the students.
The school has been finding ways to try and move on in the year since the shooting, including bringing therapy dogs into the halls. The pups were such a hit among the students that they decided to give them their own page in this year's yearbook.