Dwyane Wade‘s focus is on more than basketball as he returns to Chicago to play for his hometown Bulls.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” that aired Friday morning, Wade said he hopes to help bring change to a city that has hit been hard by violence this year.
“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,” Wade said. “But I think my purpose at the end of the day hopefully is to come to Chicago and be a part, be a voice that can help bring people together.”
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Wade: Cousin victim of ‘senseless gun violence’
Dwyane Wade called the death of his cousin, who was killed in a shooting Friday afternoon in Chicago, “another act of senseless gun violence.”
The violence has hit close to home for Wade. His cousin Nykea Aldridge, 32, was killed when two men walked up and fired shots at a third man on Chicago’s South Side at about 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 26. Police say Aldridge, who was pushing a baby in a stroller, was not the intended target.
Wade, who returned to his hometown by signing last month with the Bulls, and his mother both were part of a series of panel discussions on gun violence hosted a day earlier by The Undefeated on ESPN. Wade grew up in a South Side Chicago house headed by his mother, who was then a drug dealer. Jolinda Wade gave up drugs and turned her life around after being released from prison in 2003.
“We’re coming off doing the town hall meeting, literally the night before, my mother’s on the panel, we’re using our voice, using our platform to shed some light on the city of Chicago for others to look in and see how we can all help and all come together, and hours later one of my family members is killed,” Wade said. “For me it’s tough. I want my family to grieve in private, but my name is attached to it.”
More than 2,700 people have been shot in Chicago this year, mainly on the South and West sides. With 449 murders as of Friday, Chicago is on pace to record its largest number of homicides since 1997, when 761 people were killed in the city. Its murder rate is higher than that of New York and Los Angeles — combined.
Chicago police have charged brothers Darwin and Derren Sorells with first-degree murder in Aldridge’s death.
Derren Sorells, 22, is a documented member of the Gangster Disciples and currently is on parole, according to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. Darwin Sorells, 26, also is on parole for a gun charge, according to Guglielmi.
Wade also talked about how the nationwide violence, which has included police-related shootings of African-Americans, has affected his sons, ages 14, 9 and 2.
“You try to tell them right from wrong, but then they come back to you and say ‘But dad, kids are being killed by police officers, I thought you said police officers are safe, that’s where we should feel comfortable,'” Wade said.
“My boys are afraid of police the same way I was growing up and not all police obviously but you know my boys hear everything that’s going on in the world and all the harassment, all the murders that’s going on and they pose the question back to me and what answer do I have for them?”
While Wade said doesn’t have all the answers on how to solve Chicago’s issues, he is willing to do what he can to help spark change.
“Now I’m back in the city of Chicago — I’m back for a reason,” Wade said. “I played 13 years in Miami. Now I’m back in the city, let me see what I can do as one person to help lend my voice and help shed light on the tragedy that’s going on and find a solution to start the process of making change.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.