MIAMI: Rodney McGruder went home for Memorial Day weekend, for reasons that didn’t include barbecues and beach time.

He paid tribute to people he never met.

The Miami Heat guard was part of an NBA contingent that volunteered to spend time in the Washington area with about 500 children who are part of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors — TAPS, for short — over the solemn holiday weekend, trying to help continue the support for families who lost loved ones serving in the military.

The itinerary included tours of the Pentagon, a Jr. NBA clinic, roundtable discussions, mentoring sessions, grief counseling and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to meet some of the service members who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier around the clock. Those guards walk 21 steps in one direction, turn and face the tomb for 21 seconds, and then walk 21 steps in the other direction and repeat the process.

“We learned so much about the 21 steps, protecting the Unknown Soldier tomb, so just being there and seeing the detail that they have at their job, much respect to them,” said McGruder.

New York Knicks guard Jarrett Jack — a military kid growing up — also helped represent the NBA during the weekend events, along with Dallas assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, Sacramento assistant Bryan Gates, Portland assistant David Vanterpool and retired WNBA player Iciss Tillis.