He’s known for his end zone salsa-dancing… But during his NFL game on Sunday Victor Cruz made headlines for his special tribute to one of the young victims of the heartbreaking Newtown, Connecticut school shooting…
The 26-year-old half-Puerto Rican New York Giants wide receiver wrote a personal message in honor of 6-year-old Jack Pinto, a fan of Cruz’s who was one of the victims of Friday’s shooting.
“It was emotional. I was fighting back tears to do it,” said Cruz. “It felt good to honor a family that was going through so much and perhaps to think that messages go out to these athletes — and some athletes just brush them off. So, it felt good to be one of the athletes that listened to that family and did something to pay tribute to them. It felt special.”
Writing something on cleats is usually a fineable offense. However, according to a person informed of the league’s stance in this case, Cruz will not be fined. The person spoke to USA Today Sports on condition of anonymity.
“RIP Jack Pinto,” Cruz wrote. “Jack Pinto, my hero. This one is 4 U!”
He became aware of Jack 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 publicist, Elaina Watley, to find the family, which took her about 20 minutes. She asked the family members if they wanted to talk to Cruz; and 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.
He spoke to Pinto’s 11-year-old brother, who was obviously distraught.
“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,’’ said Cruz.
Cruz was reportedly told by Jack’s parents that they were considering burying their son in a No. 80 Giants jersey.
He said after the game that he hoped to visit Jack’s family this week, “even if it’s just for an hour.” He added that he planned to bring the shoes and gloves with him as gifts.