Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo traveled to Florida to mourn with family and friends after a deadly shooting at his former high school, and he spoke at a vigil honoring the victims Thursday.
Rizzo, who became emotional several times during the speech, told the crowd that “the entire country is grieving with you,” and offered powerful advice to the community after the horrific tragedy.
“Whatever support I can offer to our students, you’ll have it,” he said. “We have to be there for each other. We have to cope with our pain and we have to alleviate each other’s pain. We have to be the best possible version of ourselves.”
According to authorities, 17 people were gunned down Wednesday in one of the worst school shootings in American history. All but three of the victims were students, ranging in age from 14 to 18 years old.
The alleged gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, appeared in court Thursday and was ordered held without bond.
During the vigil, Rizzo said that citizens have to show children that “we care about their lives and about their future,” and called for action in the aftermath of the shootings.
“I’m a baseball player, but I’m also an American,” he said. “I may not have all the answers, but I know that something has to change before this is visited on another community.
“We get immune and move onto something else, and then it happens in our own school, or movie theatre, or nightclub, or church, and we realize it can happen to us. There’s a lot of communities out there that know exactly what we’re going through,” he added.
Rizzo was with his teammates in Arizona getting ready for spring training when news of the shooting broke. He left camp and traveled to Florida to be with family and friends, but plans on being back with the Cubs when players are scheduled to officially report next week.