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Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade talks about his cousin’s murder in Chicago

In ABC interview, he says he can forgive, but not forget

The loss of one life may provide a chance to save another one.

That’s how Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade is approaching life after the murder of his cousin Nykea Aldridge. The 32-year-old mother of four was shot in the head and arm while pushing her infant daughter in a stroller on Aug. 26 in Chicago. She was en route to register her three other children for school.

The timing was especially painful because only the day before, both Wade and his mother, Pastor Jolinda Wade, had delivered powerful remarks regarding the violence in their hometown during a town hall discussion in Chicago sponsored by The Undefeated.

A week later, Wade is still committed to the cause, but this time under the veil of grief and personal loss. He recognizes the power that his high profile can bring to the issue, he said during an exclusive interview with Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos. But he was still angered by the focus on him instead of on Aldridge.

“That hurt me, you know, to be the name that they talked about instead of talking about a mother of four and getting to know her and getting to know, you know, how amazing, how great she was as an individual,” Wade said. “And more so saying, this is Dwyane Wade’s cousin. That was her whole, that was the whole thing from her murder. That kind of hurt me and put me in a dark place for a few hours.”

Brothers Darwin Sorrells, 26, and Derren Sorrells, 22, were charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder on Aug. 28. Wade said he understands that Aldridge’s death is a microcosm of issues plaguing the community. A cycle of distrust separates black and brown residents of Chicago from the police sworn to protect them. Gang activity has been well documented. Both brothers were gang members out on parole for gun convictions, according to Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson. And the city has long struggled with its inability to get a handle on gun trafficking.

Even before the shooting, Wade said he understood that his return to his hometown was about much more than basketball. He wouldn’t necessarily be able to return the Bulls to their dominance of yester-decade, especially not when close friend LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers look to maintain their stranglehold on the Eastern Conference. And while basketball is his job, he said, he had a larger goal of embedding himself in the city and forcing uncomfortable conversations to take place about how Chicago is being torn apart by violence. What he didn’t foresee was being tossed into the presidential campaign.

Shortly after Aldridge’s death, Republican candidate Donald Trump took to Twitter, at first misspelling Wade’s first name, to address the shooting and the African-American vote.

“On one hand, I was grateful that it started a conversation. But on the other hand, it just left a bad taste in my mouth because of what my family is dealing with,” the three-time champion told Stephanopoulos. “And what our city of Chicago is dealing with and it looks like it’s being used as a political gain.”

Perhaps the hardest part about losing a loved one isn’t moving on. It’s moving on and finding the strength to forgive. Nykea Aldridge’s mother, Diann – Auntie Diann as Wade referred to her – has already forgiven the Sorrells brothers, even as her infant granddaughter Da’Kota will grow up will have no memories of the woman who lost her life while pushing her in a stroller on an otherwise normal August afternoon.

“If she can forgive, then I think anyone should forgive, but I don’t think we should forget,” Wade said. “Don’t just ride off in the sunset and say, ‘OK, she forgives, let’s move on.’ It’s something that we have to do. We don’t want another family or families down the line to keep going through the same hardships. The same hurt and pain. Once you’re immediately affected by something, it makes you want to do even more and we’re in that space.”

Justin Tinsley is a culture and sports writer for The Undefeated. He firmly believes “Cash Money Records takin’ ova for da ’99 and da 2000” is the single-most impactful statement of his generation.