Houston Rockets playoff run helps lift grief-stricken Santa Fe

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The sea of Rockets, normally red, was dotted with specs of green Thursday night.

The Rockets worked to give Santa Fe High School students a different memory to end the school year.

"To think that these kids, their last week in high school had to remember that, so we're going to do whatever we can do to take that memory and make it more special," Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said.

Fertitta invited 350 students and school staff members, along with hundreds more first responders.

After a moment of silence for the 10 lives lost in the shooting, the Santa Fe High School choir sang the national anthem.

The school's principal, Rachel Blundell, got to take the first shot.

Other members of the Santa Fe community showed up to support the kids, like John Graham, who graduated last year.

"I'm a big Rockets fan. But I could care less if they win or lose tonight. It's really about being here to support the community live lives in my entire life," Graham said.

VIDEO: Santa Fe High School seniors prepare to head to Toyota Center
EMBED More News Videos

Santa Fe HS seniors set to head to Rockets game

A University of Houston professor said a game like Thursday night's could emotionally help people dealing with trauma.

He said it may allow people to think about something positive. Even if you don't like basketball, he said rooting for the Rockets could've make a psychological difference.

"I think that's the bigger picture. It's not necessarily what goes on on the field, or in the arena, but the fact that you have this whole community of individuals that are willing to stand around you and encourage you," said UH professor in health and human performance, Billy Hawkins.

Hawkins said sports teams should do more than honor victims one night. He says after the playoffs ends, players and coaches should reach out to grieving communities and offer support and resources.

A perfect example of that, he says, is J.J. Watt, a player who raised millions for Harvey survivors and is now offering to pay for the funerals of the Santa Fe victims.

RELATED: JJ Watt to pay for funerals of all Santa Fe High School victims

But Hawkins cautions the lift sports teams provide is temporary, which is why he encourages teams to do more after the game.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.