Army veterans honored at Heat game
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Before the game Tuesday night, the Miami Heat got into the season of giving.
Some South Florida military families attending the Heat-Thunder game received special recognition from their favorite players.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, and who better to recognize than those who have served our country and their families.
It was all part of the Miami Heat Home Strong initiative. The program, started by former Heat Coach Pat Riley, recognizes our soldiers who have recently returned home from Afghanistan and Iraq. "Well, I think it's pretty good," said a soldier. "They don't have to do this. They just do it just because I think they appreciate what the service men and women are doing right now for our nation."
The 32 military families that attended Tuesday night's game were invited onto the court prior to tip-off.
For the first time this year, the opposing team joined the Heat in the ceremony.
The families met with players and coaches from the Heat and their opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder, for a gift exchange. "Well, it really does," said US Army Sergeant Will Trappier. "Like I said, we have a lot of honorable men and women giving their lives everyday, and it's just really great they appreciate the things that we do day-in and day-out for this country."
On the court, service members unfolded a 40-foot flag and turned the center of the arena into a tribute to America and those who have served her.
Coach Erik Spoelstra weighed in on what the night meant to the team during the pre-game presser. "Well, for us," said Spoelstra, "we always honor our soldiers because you know, it's important. We don't take it for granted: our freedom and what all the soldiers around the world sacrifice and serve for our country and for our freedom."
Also in remembrance that night, were the lives of those lost in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.
Players and coaches from both teams wore green ribbons honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
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