By Ray Monell
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Jack Pinto, one of 20 children and 27 people overall killed last Friday by gunman Adam Lanza, was so big a fan of Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, that Pinto’s parents are considering burying the 6-year-old in Cruz’s No. 80 jersey.
Cruz wrote messages honoring Pinto on the cleats and gloves he wore during Sunday’s Giants-Falcons game at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta, which New York lost 34-0.
Once Cruz was made aware of how much Pinto looked up to him, the third-year Giant contacted Pinto’s family.
“It was very humbling to hear how big of a fan he was and how they were thinking about putting my jersey on him for the services,” Cruz said. “It was an emotional time. It really shows you what type of effect that athletes have on kids. Not just seeing you on TV. They want to be you. They idolize you. They wear your jersey everywhere. It really showed me how real it is to be a role model. It was definitely humbling for sure.”
Cruz, himself a dad, hopes to personally hand over the cleats and gloves he wore in Atlanta on Sunday to Pinto’s parents some time this week.
“When a family is facing that much tragedy, you want to be someone that inspires them and can put a smile on their face in a time where it’s tough to do that,” he said.
Armed with two handguns and a semi-automatic M-16 assault rifle (i.e., an AR-15), Adam Lanza is reported to have killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their Newtown, Conn. home, before driving her car over to Sandy Hook Elementary School, carrying out the mass shooting and committing suicide. In addition to Pinto and 19 other children, the attack also claimed the lives of four teachers, the principal and the school psychologist.