HOUSTON - While Rockets red blanketed the Toyota Center on Thursday as the Houston Rockets took on the Golden State Warriors, there was also a special section of green and gold -- the school colors for Santa Fe High School.
The group of fans took center stage before the game.
Last week, a gunman went on a rampage at the school. Ten people were killed and 13 others were injured.
On Tuesday, Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Rockets and a Galveston County native, invited more than 300 students from Santa Fe’s senior class, as well as first responders, to watch the game for free.
Fertitta said although Game 5 is a big one for the team, the night was more about honoring the victims of Santa Fe High School.
"There's nothing like loss of life," Fertitta said. "And as important and as great as it would feel to win, I'd give up that win immediately to bring all those 10 lives back and erase whatever happened. There were 10 lives lost and they never get to enjoy great moments as adults and it's a sad situation."
"I have roots in Galveston County. Everybody knows that. I played on that football field before in Santa Fe," Fertitta said Tuesday. "We just wanted to step up, and I talked to Tad (Brown) and said, 'Hey, we need to find 300 tickets for the Santa Fe High School seniors on Thursday.'"
The school’s choir performed the national anthem, and the team’s typical First Shot for Charity and 50/50 raffle benefited the Santa Fe Strong Memorial Fund.
The Rockets wore a patch on their jerseys that read “Santa Fe HS” in the school’s green-and-yellow colors.
"To think that these kids ... their last week of school ... what they have to remember," Fertitta said. "So, we're going to do whatever we can do to take that memory and make it a little more special."
"You have got to remember, the freshmen, the sophomores, the juniors get to go back and have some decent times the rest of their high school career,” Fertitta said Tuesday. “For the seniors, this is their moment.”
In all, Fertitta said, more than 300 tickets were set aside for the group.
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