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Dwyane Wade ready to 'start the process of making change' in Chicago

Dwyane Wade's focus is on more than basketball as he returns to Chicago to play for his hometown Bulls.

In an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" that aired Friday morning, Wade said he hopes to help bring change to a city that has been hit hard by violence this year.

"My purpose for being back in the city is bigger than basketball. Basketball is a big part of it, of course; it's what I do for a living," said Wade, who signed last month with the Bulls. "But I think my purpose at the end of the day hopefully is to come to Chicago and be a part, be a voice that can help bring people together."

The violence has hit close to home for Wade. His cousin Nykea Aldridge, 32, was killed when two men walked up and fired shots at a third man on Chicago's South Side at about 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 26. Police say Aldridge, who was pushing a baby in a stroller, was not the intended target.

Wade and his mother were part of a series of panel discussions on gun violence hosted a day earlier by The Undefeated on ESPN. Wade grew up in a South Side Chicago house headed by his mother, who was then a drug dealer. Jolinda Wade gave up drugs and turned her life around after being released from prison in 2003.

"We're coming off doing the town hall meeting, literally the night before. My mother's on the panel, we're using our voice, using our platform to shed some light on the city of Chicago for others to look in and see how we can all help and all come together, and hours later one of my family members is killed," Wade said. "For me it's tough. I want my family to grieve in private, but my name is attached to it."

More than 2,700 people have been shot in Chicago this year, mainly on the South and West sides. With 449 killings in 2016 as of the end of August, Chicago is on pace to record its largest number of homicides since 1997, when 761 people were killed in the city. Its homicide rate is higher than that of New York and Los Angeles -- combined.

Chicago Police have charged brothers Darwin and Derren Sorrells with first-degree murder in Aldridge's death.

Derren Sorrells, 22, is a documented member of the Gangster Disciples and currently is on parole, according to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. Darwin Sorrells, 26, also is on parole for a gun charge, according to Guglielmi.

Wade said tougher gun laws will actually help the police, and he continues to have partnerships with law enforcement.

On Sept. 17, Wade will hold an event in Miami to promote cycling safety and unity in the community -- and City of Miami Police officers plan to join Wade on the 6-mile bike ride to support the initiative.

"They are fighting a war," Wade said of Chicago police. "And they can do a lot better, but they can get more help, as well, to do better. There's other cities that have way tougher gun laws. We have weak gun laws."

The Chicago Police Department released a statement in response to Wade's call for tougher gun laws, saying officers are waging an "unwavering'' fight against criminals but need help.

The statement from Guglielmi says making the city safer will depend on strong partnerships with the community. He said the "fight against violent offenders who torment neighborhoods with gun violence is unwavering" and added that police "need help to ensure these individuals stay off our streets after repeated arrests for guns.''

Wade also talked about how nationwide violence, which has included police-related shootings of African-Americans, has affected his sons, ages 14, 9 and 2.

"You try to tell them right from wrong, but then they come back to you and say, 'But Dad, kids are being killed by police officers. I thought you said police officers are safe. That's where we should feel comfortable,'" Wade said.

"My boys are afraid of police the same way I was growing up, and not all police, obviously, but you know my boys hear everything that's going on in the world and all the harassment, all the murders that's going on and they pose the question back to me. And what answer do I have for them?"

While Wade said he doesn't have all the answers on how to solve Chicago's issues, he is willing to do what he can to help spark change.

"Now I'm back in the city of Chicago -- I'm back for a reason," Wade said. "I played 13 years in Miami. Now I'm back in the city, let me see what I can do as one person to help lend my voice and help shed light on the tragedy that's going on and find a solution to start the process of making change."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.