"How The Sports World Remembered Newtown"
Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre, when a lone gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire. By the time he was done, he had killed 20 students, six members of the faculty, and himself, and the total number of deaths rose to 28 when police learned that he had killed his mother before going to the school.
Immediately after the tragedy, a number of athletes paid tribute to the victims on their uniforms or shoes during games. A year later, the sports world remembered the tragedy again.
Sports Illustrated‘s S.L. Price marked the anniversary by re-telling the story of Jack Pinto, a six-year-old who had taken a liking to sports and was excited to start playing football once he was old enough. Pinto was a die-hard New York Giants fan who idolized wide receiver Victor Cruz. He was, in fact, buried in a replica of the jersey Cruz wears each weekend:
That was the one problem with the Victor Cruz story and the way it spun out into the world. Somehow, in the blur of that first weekend, the fact that Jack would be buried in Cruz’s jersey got twisted into an odd sort of tribute to the NFL star. The matter was more basic. When it came time to pick out clothes for his son to wear in his casket, Dean Pinto couldn’t bear the idea of a suit or tie. That wasn’t Jack. Jack was the kid always tugging at his dad to throw a football. He wanted to play: He dressed to be ready. They threw forever in the driveway.
“Hours and hours and hours,” Dean says.
So it was that Jack was dressed for his funeral the following Monday in shorts, his favorite camouflage Crocs, his white Giants jersey, number 80.
Cruz wrote Pinto’s name on his shoes for the Giants’ next game and went and visited with Jack’s family. This Sunday, Cruz posted a picture of Pinto on Instagram and again wrote Pinto’s name on his shoes for New York’s game against Seattle:
Detroit Pistons forward Andre Drummond, who played his high school ball in Connecticut and played for UConn, also used his shoes to pay tribute. Drummond wrote the names of every Sandy Hook victim on the shoes he wore for Sunday’s game against Portland. According to this account, he plans to donate the shoes to charity:
— Uni Swag (@Uniformswag) December 16, 2013
UConn’s football team, meanwhile, wore helmet decals honoring the Sandy Hook victims for its game against Memphis on December 7 (the Huskies did not play this weekend):
Football will be wearing these special Sandy Hook tribute decals for today's game against Memphis. pic.twitter.com/9RR6chsZk5
— UConn Equipment (@UConnEquipment) December 7, 2013
And while the Newtown High School football team’s season ended on December 3 with a loss in the Connecticut state playoffs, the Nighthawks wore “26” decals on their helmets all season to honor the victims of the shooting.