During the COVID 19 Lockdown I read the biography A Father First, How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball by retired NBA star Dwyane Wade. The book was published in 2012. It tells the story of Dwyane’s life while focussing on his relationship with his boys. He is the father of two sons and he also raised his nephew who needed a home.
For the most part I enjoyed A Father First. The book is a bit slow moving in parts but it was interesting and touching at other times. I am an NBA fan and I followed Dwyane’s career for year but I didn’t know much about him personally. Dwyane lived with his three sisters, two of which were from his mother’s previous relationships, his mom and his dad. He was the baby of the family.
Wade stated that his family was far from wealthy but when his parents were together his life had stability and the family had what they needed even thought their lives were modest. His parents, Dwyane and Jolinda, divorced when Wade was a young boy. His mother admitted that the split was due to her controlling ways. Everything changed for Dwyane and his sisters after the break up.
Dwyane didn’t see his father often. His two older sister went to live with friends or other relatives. Dwyane and his younger sister remained with his mother who developed a serious drug habit. She had abusive relationships with men after her divorce. His mother’s boyfriends were involved with drug trafficking and Chicago PD raided his home. Young Dwyane Wade often went hungry. His childhood trials made him decide as a young boy that if he became a father that he would be devoted, responsible and loyal.
Dwyane’s grandmother was the matriarch of his large extended family. Dwyane had a lot of respect for his grandmother and she was always available to offer help. He and his sister didn’t always seek her help because they didn’t want anyone to know about their mother’s struggle.
Wade went to live with his father, stepmother and brothers when he was in upper elementary school and his life improved. His sister who he was closest with was not taken in by the dad. His father and stepmother had another baby, a girl. While living with his dad sports became a big part of Dwyane’s life. His dad was his first coach and his brothers were his competitors.
He had a growth spurt in high school and it got the attention of coaches and recruiters. Dwyane later went to Marquette University. While he was a student he married his high school sweetheart and became a first time father. He and his wife had a rocky marriage and later a terribly dramatic divorce after being drafted into the NBA by the Miami Heat and having another baby.
Jolinda had a religious epiphany while she was a fugitive of the law. She turned herself in to serve her time. While she was in prison she became free of her drug habit and studied her Bible. She started a storefront church once she was a free woman and her son later bought her a church with his NBA fortune. The other details of the book were about his college and NBA career. I skimmed through those pages because neither were very interesting to me.
I would recommend the book if you’re an NBA fan. The book can be a bit dry but it kind of mirrors Dwyane’s personality. He’s never come across as very dramatic or talkative. Jolinda’s story is inspiring even though I resented her for the way her children suffered due to her shortcoming. Dwyane’s decision to be a committed family man at a young age is also inspirational. It’s a good read if you have the time.