In light of the horrible tragedy that shook the small town of Newtown, Connecticut, one NFL player is paying respect to a fallen victim who was one of his biggest fans.
New York Giants wide receiver, Victor Cruz, wrote messages on his cleats and gloves to honor 6-year-old Jack Pinto, one of the 20 young victims gunned down at Sandy Hook elementary last Friday.
Pinto’s family said that the young Giants fan idolized Cruz so much, that they decided to bury his body in Cruz’s No. 80 jersey.
“There are no words that can describe the type of feeling you get when a kid idolizes you so much that, you know, unfortunately they put him in a casket with your jersey on,” the wide receiver said on Sunday.
When word spread on Twitter that Cruz was one of Pinto’s favorite football stars, the NFL player immediately reached out to the boy’s family on the phone to offer his condolences and to do something special for the fallen fan.
“I was in the hotel and as I was talking to [his family], I was fighting back tears. You could hear everybody in the background crying as well. It was tough to listen to,” Cruz told the New York Daily News.
Cruz tweeted, “Today’s game is for you Jack.” along with a photo of his cleats and gloves before yesterday night’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. The gloves had the words “JACK PINTO” and “This one is 4 u!” His right cleat donned the words, “JACK PINTO” “MY HERO” and the other, “R.I.P. JACK PINTO.
The 6-year-old football fan’s obituary reads, “Jack was an avid participant in a wide variety of activities including flag football, baseball, basketball, wrestling and snow skiing. Jack was an incredibly loving and vivacious young boy, appreciated by all who knew him for his lively and giving spirit and steely determination. In life and in death, Jack will forever be remembered for the immeasurable joy he brought to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, a joy whose wide reach belied his six short years.”
All NFL teams will be observing moment of silence before their games tonight, and the New York Giants and New England Patriots are also having special tributes to the victims on their uniforms.
While Cruz probably played one of his worst games to date, losing 34-0 against the Falcons, last night, he probably played one of the most important and meaningful games of his career. Cruz plans to visit the boy’s family later this week to give them the memorialized gloves and the cleats.
“It felt good to honor a family that was going through so much,” Cruz told ESPN. “Messages can go out to these athletes, and some athletes just brush them off. So it felt good to be one of these athletes that really listened to that family, and really did something to pay tribute to them.”
Pinto’s funeral takes place today at 1:00pm and his body will be laid to rest at the Newtown Village Cemetary.
Follow Brittany Tom on Twitter @brittanyrtom