Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo didn’t deliver his usual pregame speech on Wednesday night.
The game didn’t matter.
Izzo didn’t rile up a crowd of excited Spartan fans. He didn’t run out of the tunnel with his players at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.
He wasn’t in a celebratory mood.
Izzo stepped to the podium at Michigan State’s candlelight vigil not as a coach. Instead, he was a father whose heart was yearning for those lost after a mass shooting on campus.
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On Monday night, a gunman opened fire at two campus locations. Three students died and five others were injured in the tragedy. Izzo, whose daughter is a Michigan State alum and son, a current student, was shaken by the news. He offered a powerful speech that touched those in mourning.
“Our hearts are heavy,” Izzo said. “Our loss has been great. Our lives have been permanently changed. With a shared commitment to help each other and a promise to remember those we have lost, we will find joy again.”
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Michigan State canceled all campus activities in the wake of the shooting. Izzo mentioned how the shooting hit close to home. His son, Steven, was on campus Monday night and felt the aftermath of the tragedy.
“Steven was at one of the buildings two nights ago about 10 minutes after things happened,” Izzo said. “So sometimes we don’t understand because we haven’t been through it. That little moment brought me a little closer to understanding.”
Students hope the local government can take action. Around 100 students protested at the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan to express their claims to end gun violence. There was frustration and grief from those in attendance.
At the candlelight vigil, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and school president Teresa K. Woodruff were also on hand. They each spoke to alongside Izzo. The central theme was to offer support to the Michigan State community.
Izzo took it a step further by thanking the local law enforcement and first responders. He also was grateful that students remained sheltered in place.
However, he also shared his thoughts on gun violence. He called for everyone to use their platform to inspire change in the country.
“Gun violence is insane right now,” Izzo said. “We all have a platform. Some are small, some are high. But we all have a platform. I hope each and every one of you use your platform to help others so other families don’t have to go through what these families are going through right now.”
According to campus police, all five injured students are in critical condition. Some athletes will also wear special decals to honor the victims in the tragedy.
The school will continue to offer support as move forward in unity.
“Michigan State is my home,” Izzo said. … “Virtually all of my adult life, I have been a Spartan. I’ve seen some incredible highs and yes unfortunately there have been some devastating lows. But as a Spartan, we always get through it together. We are Spartan tough and Spartan strong.”
Story Credit: usatoday.com