One of the more touching moments of Sunday's Sandy Hook-related news from the NFL was the story of New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. After learning that Jack Pinto, one of the young victims of the Newtown tragedy, was a fan of his, Cruz wrote Jack's name on his shoes and gloves. After his game with the Falcons, Cruz pledged to visit Pinto's family this week.
On Tuesday, Cruz carried through on his promise. He visited with the Pinto family in Connecticut and several other families at the Pinto home. Children in attendance at the house played football in the yard and left with signed Giants balls and jerseys. Cruz spent several hours at the family's home behind closed doors.
"Much love to the entire Pinto family," Cruz later wrote on Twitter. "Great people with huge hearts. I'm sorry again for your loss. Looking at life through a different lens." As are most of us.
On Monday, Jack Pinto was laid to rest wearing a replica Victor Cruz jersey.
"It leaves you kind of blank," Cruz said on Wednesday of that. "But I'm definitely honored by it. I'm definitely humbled by it, and it was definitely an unfortunate but humbling experience for me."
Cruz gave his cleats and gloves to Pinto's older brother, Ben.
"He was still pretty emotional," Cruz said. "The family was outside and they were still pretty emotional, crying and stuff like that. I saw how affected they were by just my presence alone.
"There were instances where we would take some time and talk football, or talk just life in general, where you would just talk about normal things back and forth. But those instances lasted about a couple seconds before you could revert back to saying something about Jack or something about the family or something about the nearby family that also suffered a loss and things like that. It was tough."
On Wednesday, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin paused to reflect on what Cruz did.
"Incredibly proud," Coughlin said. "That family will remember that all their days. Hopefully, at least some of their grief may temporarily be spent in being able to embrace Victor Cruz. The fact that he went and did that speaks volumes about what he has in him, inside."
IN the end, for Cruz, it was a harrowing reminder of how precious life can be.
"How short life can be, how much you have to cherish every moment, how much you have to cherish every opportunity," he said, discussing what he took away from the experience. "Every chance you get with your family, never take anything for granted because just a day at school can change all that."
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