D Wade turns tragedy into a voice for change

D Wade turns tragedy into a voice for change

MIAMI, FL – APRIL 13: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat during the game against the Orlando Magic on April 13, 2015 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dwyane Wade just lost his cousin to gun violence, so you might expect him to lay low, to be quiet and mourn privately, and for the most part, people would respect that privacy. But Wade understands the spotlight, he realizes the platform he has, and he wants to use that platform to confront the issues that he believes led to his cousin’s death.

The Bulls superstar blames weak gun laws for his cousin’s death, and he is demanding local officials act to make their city safer. Wade said his children are afraid of police officers in the same way he had been as a child…he added that prisons are failing to rehabilitate inmates.

When asked about Donald Trump’s tweets related to his cousin’s death, Wade said the communication left a “bad taste” in his mouth.

But the GOP nominee for POTUS is not where Wade wants people to focus. Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldridge was one of 90 people killed in Chicago in just the month of August alone. This is epidemic in a city often held up as having some of the toughest gun laws in the country. But that hasn’t stopped the violence, and Wade is not taking this failure without action.

D Wade turns tragedy into a voice for change

Wade’s outspokenness is intentional. The player returned to Chicago after 13 years with the Miami Heat. He came for a very specific reason: “My purpose for being back in the city is bigger than basketball… Basketball is a big part of it, of course. It’s what I do for a living. But I think my purpose at the end of the day is hopefully to come to Chicago and be a part and be the voice that can help bring people together…”

As part of his message, Wade is insisting the image of Chicago as tough on guns is misleading. He insists other cities have much tougher gun laws, but this is not the only prong of Wade’s message. He also says cops need more help: “They are fighting a war…they can do a lot better, but they can get more help as well to do better. There’s other cities that have way tougher gun laws. We have weak gun laws…”

Any time an athlete – particularly one of Wade’s caliber – brings himself into a political or social discussion, there are consequences. So far, Wade is not taking too much heat for making this stand. Too often, emotional responses stop communication before it happens. Wade has a rare opportunity to actually connect before people get too riled up.

Elie Hirschfeld is a real estate developer in NYC.