Who Is Dwyane Wade?
Born in 1982 in Chicago, Illinois, Dwyane Wade starred at Marquette University before joining the NBA's Miami Heat in 2003. Known as "D-Wade" or "Flash," he became one of pro basketball's elite guards, leading the Heat to championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013. Following late-career stints with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, Wade returned to Miami and retired in 2019 as the team's all-time leader in numerous categories.
Former professional basketball player Dwyane Tryone Wade Jr., known as "D-Wade" or "Flash," was born on January 17, 1982, in Chicago, Illinois. Shortly after his birth, Wade's parents separated, and his mother, Jolinda, was given custody of the two younger children, Wade and his 5-year-old sister, Tragil. The family struggled financially and was eventually forced to go on welfare.
Wade's life took a turn for the better when, at 8 years old, he was tricked by his sister; Tragil told him they were going to the movies, but they instead went to a different South Side neighborhood. Tragil then returned home, and left Wade to stay with his father, who had re-married. The move changed the course of Wade's life, leading him away from the crime-ridden surroundings of his early years.
A year later, Wade's father moved the family to Robbins, Illinois—a south Chicago suburb. Wade's new environment allowed him to play basketball outside with his stepbrothers, new friends and father, who coached part-time at a local recreational center. It was here that Wade attended Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, where his older stepbrother Demetrius had already made a name for himself as the star of the basketball team.
Although he initially found more success as a wide receiver on the football team, Wade worked hard to earn regular time on the varsity basketball court during his junior year. After improving his ball-handling skills and outside game, as well as shooting up by nearly four inches—to more than 6 feet tall—Wade emerged as the basketball team's new star. During his junior year, he averaged 20.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, making a name for himself throughout Chicago.
His success continued into his senior year—at that time, he was averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds per game. However, due to his poor grades, he was only recruited by three college basketball programs. Wade has stated that his high school coach, Jack Fitzgerald, was one of the most positive influences in his life during this time.
College Basketball Career
Wade chose to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although he was ineligible to play due to low academic scores, head coach Tom Crean took him on as a partial qualifier. This meant that although he had to sit out the 2000-01 season, Wade was still allowed to attend school and practice with the team. After taking the time to develop his skills even further, he emerged in his sophomore year with an average of 17.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. The team's record that season was 26-7.
As a junior, Wade led Marquette to the school's first Conference USA championship, as well as a berth in the NCAA tournament's Final Four for the first time since 1977. He averaged 21.5 points per game, as the team's lead scorer. In the 2003 NCAA Midwest Regional Final, Wade recorded the fourth triple-double in NCAA tournament history. His 29 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats were publicized by the national press. Wade was even chosen as the MVP of the Midwest Regional Final. Unfortunately, his success ended in the Final Four, with a 94-61 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks.
Due to his newfound fame and success, Wade decided to forgo his senior year and instead enter the 2003 NBA draft. He was selected by the Miami Heat with the fifth overall pick.
Wade's first year with the Heat was a notable one, as he averaged 16.2 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game to earn unanimous selection to the 2004 NBA All-Rookie team. After Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Heat, Wade's numbers increased further, with new averages of 24.1 points and 6.8 assists per game.
In 2006, Wade gave an impressive performance in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks. In the third game of the Finals, he scored 42 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, helping the Heat defeat the Mavericks for a close 98-96 win. His 36 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the clinching sixth game earned him the honor of the NBA Finals MVP.
After a series of operations to repair shoulder and knee injuries, Wade emerged for another strong season in 2008, arguably his best ever with the Heat. Averaging 30.2 points per game, he earned his first NBA scoring title.
The Big Three
In 2010, Wade became a free agent for the first time, but he re-signed with the Heat and returned to the court with two new All-Star teammates, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Known as the "Big Three," the superstar trio lived up to expectations and powered through the NBA's Eastern Conference, before losing to the Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.
In 2012, the Heat returned to the Finals, and this time they held off the Oklahoma City Thunder, led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, to claim the NBA championship. The following year, the Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs in a thrilling seven-game Finals to give the Big Three their second title together.
Hampered by nagging injuries in 2013-14, Wade played in just 54 regular-season games and saw his scoring average dip below 20 points per game for the first time since his rookie year. The Heat rallied to advance to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season, but with Wade noticeably less than full strength, they were blown out by the Spurs in five games.
James' return to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the start of the 2014-15 season brought an end to the Big Three era, and with Wade again limited by injuries, the team stumbled to a 37-45 record. The star guard bounced back the following season to appear in 74 games, his highest total in five years, and the Heat pushed the Toronto Raptors to the limit in the conference semifinals before falling in seven games.
Chicago, Cleveland and Back to Miami
Another era came to an end when Wade signed with his hometown Chicago Bulls in July 2016, after 13 seasons with the Heat. The 2016-17 campaign was a disappointing one, however, as Wade failed to garner an All-Star selection for the first time since his rookie year and the Bulls were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.
A trade to Cleveland before the start of 2017-18 reunited Wade with James, but the pair were unable to rekindle the old magic, and Wade was sent back to Miami halfway through the season. No longer a starter, he still helped the Heat finish with a solid 44-38 record and earn a postseason berth.
Wade enjoyed one final season in Miami, earning his 13th All-Star selection, before closing out his career with a triple-double in the 2018-19 regular-season finale for the Heat. He finished as the organization's all-time leader in numerous categories, including points, games, assists and steals.
Family and Personal Life
In 2002, Wade married his high school girlfriend, Siohvaughn Funches, with whom he had two sons, Zaire (born in 2001) and Zion (born in 2007). The couple divorced in 2010, with Wade obtaining full custody of Zaire and Zion the following year.
Wade began dating actress Gabrielle Union, but during a break in their relationship he fathered another son, Xavier. Wade and Union reconciled and married on August 30, 2014, in Miami. In November 2018, they had daughter Kaavia together.
Wade's memoir, A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball (2012), documents his life as a single dad navigating pro basketball fame.
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