At a Tuesday night candlelight vigil for slain LSU basketball player Wayde Sims, coach Will Wade recalled Sims' passions and committed that the team will play for Sims this season.
"We're going to be playing for Wayde all season long," Wade said. "Other teams got five guys, but we got six. ... We want to honor him every day and not just on game day."
Hundreds of school officials, students and friends wiped tears as they heard about the life of slain LSU basketball player Wayde Sims at a vigil Tuesday night in front of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Sims played there for the Tigers the last two seasons before he was fatally shot on Friday morning.
Sims' father, Wayne, spoke too, asking for prayers for him and his family and thanking everyone for their support.
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They passed out 44 balloons, significant of Sim's jersey number, to student athletes, who then released them as a pastor led the group in prayer.
LSU President F. King Alexander pleaded with the students there to look out for their classmates, as Sims always did for his teammates.
"Take care of each other," Alexander said. "Think of Wayde when you have an opportunity to help a fellow student. ... Take care of each other so this doesn't happen again, so we don't lose another student."
Sims's long-time friend and teammates Skylar Mays talked about how Sims was always smiling. Wade shared how Sims would hang back in running drills, even though he could win every sprint, just to make sure that none of his teammates had to run again alone.
"He never let his own problems affect how he treated people and how he made them feel," Mays said. "Wayde had a great impact on my life and he'll probably have an even bigger impact on how I lead my life every day. It was an honor to lace up with him every day."
Specifically, Mays asked everyone there to tell people how they feel about them, because you don't expect people to die so soon.
LSU basketball's Skylar Mays had known his friend Wayde Sims since they were kids. So when Mays spoke at Sims' candlelight vigil Tuesday night…
"If you love somebody, tell them you love them," Mays said. "Don't be afraid to let people know how you feel. ... None of us ever thought that Wayde would be gone this soon."
A guest speaker recently asked the team to write down three to five of their passions, Wade recalled. He was sitting close to Sims and could see what he wrote: music, fashion, and family and friends. The coach expounded on how he has seen Sims's passions come through, especially recently.
"It was unbelievable the support system that I've been able to witness with (the Sims family) the last four of five days in the toughest of times," Wade said.
Funeral services for Sims will be held Saturday at noon at Healing Place Church. Visitation will begin at 9 a.m.
Baton Rouge police arrested Dyteon Simpson on Saturday in Sims's death. Investigators said they connected Simpson to the fatal shooting through multiple tips and DNA evidence from a pair of glasses left on the scene. Simpson confessed after his arrest, police said.
Below is an edited transcript of coach Will Wade's address at the vigil:
One of the last team activities we did about a week-to-10 days ago ... the way we sit in our film room -- I sit in the third row and Wayde sits right in front of me to the right, so I can basically see everything he does ... you always have to keep an eye on him. We had a guy come in. His message was about branding, but that didn't matter. He asked our guys ... to write down three-to-five of their passions in life. All of our guys did it and because of where I sit I could see what he wrote. I'll give you three of them ... the first thing that came up was that he had a passion for music. And I take some solace in the fact that he was at a concert the night that all this happened. So he was at least living out one of his passions when this happened.
Early in the morning after we left the hospital I was looking and scrolling back through my text messages with Wayde to see just kind of see what our last conversations were. About a week before we had a conversation on music, and he was getting me to try and change some of my musical taste. He was educating me on YoungBoy a little bit and try to get me to get with the times. I was taken back by how that was one of his passions and how that tied together.
The second thing was family and friends. I think this is a perfect example of what great family, what a supportive he has. It was unbelievable the support system I've been able to witness the last four or five days in the toughest of times. And his friends, this is a testament to the friends he made -- with his smile, with his personality, with the way he carried himself. I had a friend of mine who's been to one LSU basketball game. He's one of my closest friends. I didn't even know this; he brought his son to one of the games over Christmas last year. The one picture he got was with Wayde after the game in the hallway. And as soon as this happened he texted me the picture of his son with Wayde. And this guy lives in Georgia. So he's made an impact and friends all over the country and all over the place. This is a testament to what a strong family system he had and what a strong group of friends he was able to cultivate with his personality.
The last (passion) is something I know nothing about -- but clothing and fashion -- were a big passion of his. Everyday before practice know -- they say I'm boring; I say I'm routine-oriented -- but I wear the same stuff to practice every day. The same boring shoes; the only thing that changes is a white windbreaker or a purple windbreaker. Without hesitation, every day, Wayde would come out and critique my clothes and tell me he was going to buy me some Js and buy me some much better shoes to spruce me up for practice. He says, "You can't go on the court looking so raggedy like that, coach." He was always joking with me and playing with me with about my style. On the flip side he had very good style and very good taste. I've spoken to Wayne (Sims), and Wayne spoke tonight, about our team honoring Wayde this season. There's no doubt we're going to be playing for Wayde all season. Other teams are going to have five guys; we've got six. So that's going to be a big advantage for us with him out there.
I spoke to our team on Monday, we want to honor him every day, not just one game day, because how he lived his life every day is how all of us can take things from how he lived his life every day ... we've had a lot of one-on-one conversations with the players; we've had a lot of group sessions with the players. There's a couple themes that have come out how Wayde was with our team and how he handled our team. One thing that came out was ... how Wayde was able to push people through conditioning. He would run extra so that someone else wouldn't have to run. He would drag other people along with him. He could win every sprint this year ... that's how good of shape he was in. He would hang back with the other guys at the end to make sure nobody had to run again. Just did a phenomenal job pushing people through in conditioning.
I think that's something we can all do. When people need help, we've got to go help people and help them push through things and be like Wayde. That's something we can all do every day.
The second thing that came up -- I had two or three people say they loved being his partner in the weight room. Nobody really likes the weight room. But Wayde made it fun. The reason they loved being his partner is because they say he'd never let them cheat a rep. If we did 10 reps, he'd make you do 10 reps. Everybody wants to take the shortcut sometimes, but Wayde would never let you take the shortcut. I think that says a lot about him that he would always want to do everything to the fullest. He lived his life to the fullest. He didn't want anybody to take any shortcuts. To honor him everyday in the weight room we do a "Sims set" at the end... We do 44 of whatever our last activity is.
The third piece is sacrifice. Everybody talked about what a great teammate he was and how he was willing -- this year we were going to try to move him positions and change positions -- and he was sacrificing for the good of our team. He was doing what we needed to have our done for our team to have the most success. And that hit home with a lot of our players that he was changing positions so that other guys could maybe play a little more and other guys could have success. Who knows how it would've worked out. He was willing to do that. He didn't ask any questions. When I told him, "Hey, we're thinking about doing this," he said, "I got you, coach. Whatever you need, man. I got you." I think that says a lot about him.
We can't bring back his smile. We can't bring back the jokes and his impersonations of me, which were spot-on. We can't bring that back. But we can honor him every day by living a life where we push people and help people get through things and sacrifice for the greater good and where we do everything to the fullest, where we do every rep and do everything we can to be successful and to push other people to be successful. And that's what I want Wayde to be remembered as -- passionate about life, passionate about basketball, passionate about LSU, passionate about this community and everybody being here tonight and all the lives that he's touched are a great reminder of that.
Know that we're going to honor Wayde everyday. We're going to honor him on gamedays. And we're going to play our hearts out for him.