New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz played Sundays game against the Atlanta Falcons with a heavy heart. Cruz found out shortly after the shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday that one of the victims, 6-year old Jack Pinto, idolized him.
According to the New York Daily News, Cruz became aware of Jack Pinto after his Twitter feed started to blow up with talk that the 6-year-old had been one of his biggest fans. He instructed his fiancée/publicist, Elaina Watley, to find the family. It took her 20 minutes. She asked the family members if they wanted to talk to Cruz. They did.
“I was in the hotel (in Atlanta) and as I was talking to them I was fighting back tears. You could hear everybody in the background crying as well. It was tough to listen to,” Cruz said.
Cruz also talked to Pinto's 11-year old brother.
“He could barely speak to me. I was just talking to him, telling him to stay strong, to stay positive and I’m going to help the family any way I can,’’ Cruz said.
Pinto was such a fan of the Giants player his family is considering burying him in Cruz's No. 80 jersey
"I told them I was honored," Cruz told ESPN. "I couldn't even express to them how great that made me feel, and how big of an honor that is. … No words describe the type of feeling you get when a kid idolizes you so much that they want to, you know, unfortunately, like put him in the casket with your jersey on."
Cruz honored Pinto during Sunday's game by writing his name on his shoes and gloves.
The Giants may have lost Sunday's game, but Cruz showed that athletes can be heroes off the field too.