Maddon lauds Rizzo for speech at prayer vigil

Cubs manager: 'I could not be more proud of him'

February 16th, 2018

MESA, Ariz. -- It was important for to return home to to Parkland, Fla., to speak to friends and family after a horrific shooting at the Cubs first baseman's alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, manager Joe Maddon said Friday.

"I could not be more proud of him," Maddon said. "What he said and how he said it and the manner in which he said it was really impressive."

In his speech, Rizzo offered support to his hometown, still reeling from Wednesday's shooting in which 17 people were killed.

"It's upsetting and you don't want to see anything like that happen," teammate said Friday about the shooting. "Unfortunately, this happened in his hometown. For him to go back and give to his community and try to uplift them and bring them together shows what kind of person he is. He's a great person, a great human being. We're there for him all the way so whenever he gets back here, we'll be here to embrace him."

Rizzo spoke at a candlelight prayer vigil Thursday night, which was held at the same park where he has hosted a charity walk for six years.

"When he speaks, he knows what to say," said of Rizzo. "It's hard to go through and I can't imagine what it's like to be a graduate of that high school and people in that community [and have that happen]. I couldn't imagine that happening in my hometown."

Maddon said it was a "growth moment" for Rizzo, but added that it came under horrible circumstances.

"I texted him immediately because I wanted him to know how impressive it was, what he did, and I wanted him to know how important his presence was to the people there, his hometown, his former teachers, his friends, his family," Maddon said. "They had to be impressed with him taking time to get there and speaking the words he did and how he did it. I told him, 'I could never be more proud of you than I am at this moment.'"