No one moved or said a word as a tribute video of the late Wayde Sims played on the video board in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Somber music echoed as the hundreds who remained in the PMAC watched the tribute showing the brightest moments of Sims life as a son, a friend and a teammate. Sims was set to begin his junior season on LSU's basketball team before he was tragically shot and killed near Southern University's campus in late September.
LSU coach Will Wade addressed the crowd before the video played as LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva and Tiger Athletic Fund President Rick Perry presented Sims’ parents, Wayne and Fay, the flag that hung in the PMAC from 2005-2018. Wade said it was the first time ever TAF had given away a stadium flag, and he also gave the Sims family the game ball from LSU’s 94-63 win over Southeastern in the home opener on Tuesday.
Wade stood together with Wayne, a LSU basketball player himself from 1987-1991, and Fay as they watched the video once again.
“It was tough,” Wade said after the game. “I’ve seen it a bunch, and it doesn’t get any easier. I went by his parents’ house on Sunday and showed it to his parents to make sure they were good with it. Then we showed it to the team Thursday afternoon after practice. It’s touching. It was certainly tough to show it to the team, it was tough to see it on the video board, but hopefully Fay and Wayne will have a good memory of the video. I thought it was very well done. He’s going to be with us and we’re going to keep fighting for him.”
The Tigers have added patches to their jerseys to honor Wayde, who was set to play an integral part for team off the bench as a forward this season.
For junior guard Skylar Mays the patch is something he said he takes serious pride in. Mays and Sims were teammates at University Lab High School in Baton Rouge, and Mays described Sims as a lifelong friend and a brother.
Mays and fellow LSU teammate Marshall Graves, a walk-on and also a U-High graduate, were locked together as highlights of the three playing high school basketball were shown in the video.
“[We] shared a bond,” said Mays, who called the day a blur. “We won state championships together and that’s a moment nobody can take from us. We feel the same pain. Just a rough moment for us. An emotional roller coaster. Just a tough time.
“I knew how weird it was going to be just going out there and competing with him not being there physically. Obviously, he’s there with us. He’s our sixth man for sure. We’re just going to continue to try to honor him in everything we do, and he’ll for sure be remembered, I’ll make sure of that and all of us will.”
“We can’t do anything to bring him back – which is what we all want – so the best we can do is honor him,” Wade said. “His parents are going to be with us all year, and as long as we’re here, they are going to stay involved in our program, and we’re going to keep honoring him and try to move forward as best we can.”