When Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade took the court Friday night against Toronto, he wrote a special message on his shoe: "Praying for Darin."
Darin Johnson, Wade's 20-year-old nephew, was shot in the leg when two gunmen opened fire in a South Side convenience store last Thursday. Five others were also hit and one of them died.
"Dwyane wrote on his shoe. He said, 'Praying for Darin,' " said Wade's sister, Tragil Wade. "It didn't say RIP. So we thought that was pretty good, another time to just reflect that he's still here."
The shooting is particularly troubling because Dwyane Wade's World Foundation has joined the Rev. Michael Pfleger fighting violence in the Gresham neighborhood. Police say they believe the shooting at the Bishop Golden store in the 1400 block of West 79th Street was gang-related.
"We've done marches, particularly with Father Pfleger on 76th Street," she said. "It kind of came full circle. . . This is definitely still letting us know that we're doing the right thing by coming into the neighborhoods and still doing what we are doing.
"Faith has kept us this far. If we weren't, we'd probably be hanging our heads. If anything we're just praising God for life and a second chance for Darin."
Wade's nephew was one of six people shot when two hooded men jumped out of an SUV, walked into the small store and opened fire, according to police. One of the people used a TEC-9 type gun. One man was dead at the scene and four others — ranging in age from 16 to 24 — were hospitalized.
Johnson was shot twice in the leg, Tragil Wade said, adding that he was released from the hospital on Sunday.
"He will be fine," she said. "He was actually shot two times, once in his ankle bone and that's where he had to go for surgery for that, and the other one he was shot in the leg and it came through his knee.
"He is now rehabbing, he's at home now," she continued. "He started his first day of rehabbing. . .We're really grateful that God saved his life."
Dwyane Wade said he learned of the shooting after Miami defeated Dallas on Thursday night. On Friday, Wade said he played “with a heavy heart” when the Heat visited Toronto. Wade scored 30 points in Miami's 113-101 victory, and afterward said he expected his nephew to recover.
“I played for him and with him in mind,” Wade said. “I was 9 years old when he was born. I was an uncle at 9 years old. A lot of thoughts go through your mind. … My prayers go out to all the families involved, especially the one family who lost a child. My prayers go out to them. It's tough."
He too voiced frustration.
“A lot of work that I do in the community in Chicago is about (gun violence) and to have a family member, my nephew, be involved in it, it's sad," Wade said. "It hurts your heart to think about not only your family but other families going through it. I'm just glad that he's fine and hopefully he recovers. … You never expect to get a call like that.”
Johnson is the son of one of Wade's other sisters. He lives in the south suburbs, but was visiting his father in the Gresham neighborhood. "Darin went to the store, he said he didn't know what made him go," Tragil Wade said.
"This is a store that's in a neighborhood that his father lives in," she said. "It's not a store that's unknown to him, he knows the neighborhood pretty well. He just went to the store and that's what happened."
Tragil Wade said the shooting is "hard to take in because we are the type of people that love and ultimately want the best for all kids."
"Every time we hear something in Chicago, we always think of it as, 'Oh my God, it's a sad situation period.' It hits home and at the same time it's causing us to keep more of our eye on even just our family. . .Right now we're just grateful, we're really grateful."
Twitter: @csadoviCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun