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NBA great Dwyane Wade wraps up his career visually with new photographic memoir 'Dwyane'

Dwayne Wade. (Bob Metelus)
Dwayne Wade. (Bob Metelus)

Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade shares some of the secrets to his success in a new photographic memoir, “Dwyane.”

It’s a collection of never before seen photos of Wade and the stories behind them — from his days at Marquette University to his 16-year stint with the Miami Heat and everything in between. Wade incorporated his private photos to give fans more insight into his life than they get from five-minute interviews after games.

“It was all about wrapping up my career, but I wanted to do it visually. I didn’t want it to just be words,” Wade says. “I wanted you to be able to visually see what I’m talking about so you get a better understanding about moments.”

The seven chapters of the book — with names like “Pregame” and “First Quarter” — take readers behind the scenes of Wade’s training and highlight the importance of good coaching. He writes about his relationships with coaches like Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy, who allowed Wade to play his own way.

Van Gundy helped Wade grow on the court by allowing him to make mistakes. But the former coach was tough: Wade says he can still hear Van Gundy loudly screaming “let’s go” in his ear today.

The book includes a photo of Wade’s mother in the crowd watching his last conference game at Marquette and explains that she needed to get special permission to attend while on probation.

Jolinda Wade struggled with drug addiction for many years. In a letter from prison in 2002, she wrote that she couldn’t wait to meet her grandson and see her son play.

“She got a chance to see her son and hear his name and see the jerseys and feel proud as a mother for the first time,” Wade says. “And she got to see me go out there and do what she used to take me to do when we were kids.”

Wade remembers going to the park with his mother and playing basketball as a kid. On that day, Jolinda Wade watched her son play in front of the world for the first time and win a championship.

“My life before that moment felt in shambles, but at that moment,” he says, “that was the first time when my life started to feel like the pieces were coming together.”

As a young boy, Wade dreamed of buying his mother a big house one day and giving her a better life.

“I’ve worked so hard to be able to afford a life that my mother can live and live it fully and really tap into who Jolinda is,” he says, “because she lost herself along the way.”

Now at age 67, Jolinda Wade has the freedom to explore passions like writing, sewing and acting, her son says.

“I’m just a lucky little boy who was able to make some dreams come true,” Wade says.

Wade also breaks down his basketball strategies — the euro step, the alley-oop, the shot fake — in the book. He writes about throwing alley-oops to some notable targets like LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, noting that the one famous pass he threw to James in Milwaukee was actually a bounce pass.

And Wade also put rumors of a rivalry with James to bed in the book. People try to pit the two former players against each other, but Wade loves James like a brother.

“It’s a rivalry in sports as you compete against each other, trying to win a championship and trying to become the best player that you can become,” Wade says. “But this brotherhood is only a few of us. It’s a small fraternity.”

Wade, James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh all started their NBA careers in 2003 and built a unique bond — “something that we don’t have with other people,” Wade says.

The book also pays tribute to Miami, where Wade spent the majority of his 16-year career playing for the Heat. Off the page, he struggles to put what the city means to him into words.

From age 21 to 37, Wade says Miami fans protected his family and didn’t place blame when things went wrong.

“The love has always been strong. And so I just thank them for allowing me to make mistakes, allowing me to grow up,” he says. “Along the way, I tried to give them memories and moments that they would never forget because they gave me so many.”

Family played a big role in Wade’s decision to hang up his jersey. Wade’s youngest daughter, Kaavia, looks just like him — so much so it trips him up when she steals his facial expressions. Through the pandemic, he says Kaavia serves as the beacon of light for his family.

Actress Gabrielle Union, Wade’s wife, spoke recently with Here & Now about the couple’s struggles to conceive. Wade says they tried for more than five years to have a baby and ultimately decided to pursue surrogacy.

Once Wade learned his baby girl was on the way, he says he knew it was time to walk away from the game.

“I felt that I have nothing else to prove in the game of basketball anymore,” he says. “I really wanted to try to do this differently this time around. I missed so much of my kids’ lives.”

And basketball fans and bookworms rejoice: Wade has already written another book.

“If I continue to keep evolving, if I continue to keep having experiences that I feel others can learn from … ” he says, “I will continue to put these ideas and these thoughts and these experiences on hard copy.”


Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Chris BentleyAllison Hagan adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.