The tributes to Jack Pinto popped up in various places and from various people Sunday, each striking in their own way.
Victor Cruz, the New York Giants wide receiver whom Pinto idolized, wrote messages to Pinto on the cleats he wore during Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
"RIP Jack Pinto," read the message on one.
"Jack Pinto, my hero," read the other.
ESPN reported that Pinto, one of 20 students killed Friday in the mass shooting at a Newtown elementary school, was such a big Cruz fan that Pinto's family was considering laying him to rest in a Cruz jersey.
"It was emotional. I was fighting back tears to do it," Cruz said after Sunday's game. "It felt good to honor a family that was going through so much and perhaps to think that messages go out to these athletes -- and some athletes just brush them off. So, it felt good to be one of the athletes that listened to that family and did something to pay tribute to them. It felt special."
"It was emotional. I was fighting back tears to do it," Cruz said after the Giants game. "It felt good to honor a family that was going through so much and perhaps to think that messages go out to these athletes -- and some athletes just brush them off. So, it felt good to be one of the athletes that listened to that family and did something to pay tribute to them. It felt special."
Cruz said he struggled to find words when he spoke to the Pinto family Saturday night, including
"(I told them) to stay strong and understand that God has a plan, and things are unfortunate and things don't always go as planned -- to just stay strong," Cruz said. "They seem like a strong family. I also spoke to the (11-year-old) older brother, and he was distraught as well. I just told him to stay strong, and I'm going to do whatever I can to honor him."
Members of the George Mason University wrestling team in Fairfax, Va., who didn't know Pinto but had heard he was a wrestler, wrote his name on their headgear prior to their meet Sunday against Drexel at Madison Square Garden.
The most memorable tribute, though, may have come from Pinto's teammates at the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association, who wrestled in Pinto's honor Sunday at a meet in Little Falls, N.J., just two days after one of the team's youngest and smallest members was killed.
The wrestlers, as young as 6 and as old as 14, took part in the Hornets Wrestling Club 22nd annual Warm-Up Tournament.
According to a post on the wrestling association's Twitter account, the team went down to New Jersey with mixed emotions.
"Know what we found?" the association tweeted?" "Hugs and ham/egg/cheese sandwiches."
The Newtown wrestlers were grateful that the Hornets Wrestling Club and others in New Jersey were gracious and comforting. About a dozen Pinto's teammates wrestled in Sunday's meet.
Earlier Saturday morning, the association's account tweeted a message from head wrestling coach Christopher Bray, a Newtown resident, who said "we are a go. We'll all survive this, as hard as it is. It's who we are."
At the George Mason-Drexel meet in New York, George Mason's coaches and support staff wore black ribbons showcasing the word "Newtown" along with Friday's date.
"Although wrestling at Madison Square Garden was a privilege, we have to keep things in perspective," George Mason coach Tom Carr told the New Haven Register Sunday. "Knowing that one of the victims was a wrestler, we felt writing names and wearing ribbons was a way to support the Newtown community and the victims' families."