MIAMI – The day Dwyane Wade returned to the Miami Heat, 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver called his parents and exclaimed: “He’s back!”
Confused, they asked “Who’s back?”
Joaquin then became emotional explaining to his mom, Patricia Padauy, and dad, Manuel Oliver, that his idol was returning to the Heat.
“They said he was crying,” said Wade’s mother, Jolinda Wade. “And, oh my God, he loved my son. He loved Dwyane. The father found out he was talking about Dwyane, Dwyane was back.
“Dwyane made some type of very deep impression on his life.”
Six days after Wade returned, on Valentine’s Day, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland and killed 17 people, including Joaquin. Knowing what the Heat star had meant to Joaquin, Patricia and Manuel buried their son in Wade’s jersey.
Jolinda said she had a calling to visit Joaquin’s parents and on Wednesday, Jolinda and her daughter, Tragil, met and spoke with Patricia and Manuel for more than two hours at their Coral Springs home.
“I didn’t know what I would say to her I didn’t know what would happen when we meet. All I know I was called to go and to see her, to hold her,” said Jolinda, who is a pastor at New Creation Church in Chicago. “I didn’t take it lightly that this family respected my son and loved him so that they would bury their son in his jersey. That was so powerful for me as a mother.
“I wanted to see her, just me and my daughter to go and to sit with the mother. She said she believed her son sent me to her. We sat there for about two, three hours and it was so relaxing and so peaceful, just mom to mom. Her sharing and me sharing and then my daughter sharing with the daughter. Everybody was lifting everybody else up. It was nothing planned. It was something I knew I had to do before I left Miami.”
The meeting came the day after Wade honored Joaquin by writing his name on his sneakers for Miami’s game against Philadelphia. Wade then scored his season high of 27 points, including the game-winning shot with 5.9 seconds remaining.
Soon after the final buzzer, Dwyane and Jolinda shared a hug before Dwyane left the court.
“I just had to take a step back and say ‘Wow!’ it’s really, really bigger than basketball,” Wade said about that moment he learned Joaquin was buried in his jersey.
“My mother always told me you never know it until it pops up and see it. It’s bigger than basketball. What his family did in burying him in my jersey I can’t even like … . It’s crazy.”
Patricia and Manual shared a video with Jolinda and Tragil of a much younger Joaquin playing basketball and acting as if he was Dwyane.
“It touched my heart,” Jolinda said. “Dwyane came back and it changed his whole world. He played basketball, he said his name was going to be big, he was going to be known as well and the good works he was going to do not knowing that his name did get known and he is doing good work as we speak.
“He touched my life. The family touched my life.”