At 16, Dwyane Wade Watched Mom Shoot Up And “Slowly Kill Herself” Before she Was Arrested

Mriganka Chawla
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dwyane wade documentaryESPN

ESPN’s D. Wade: Life Unexpected is not a documentary you would expect when you think of the legendary career of former Miami Heat’s legendary Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr.

Don’t get me wrong, the documentary heavily talks about the basketball things. You know the kind of things you don’t understand if you don’t follow the game but that isn’t what stands out. Yeah, he retired after 16 seasons as a legend, won three rings, formed the Legendary Big Three but it’s the story of his life before he became all this and a bag of chips that is hard to shake off.

It was the heartbreaking childhood this NBA Hall of Fame superstar has had that tugged at my heartstrings and it is time we talk in-depth about it because we all need inspiration every now and then.

“When you grow up in the hood you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself… no one cares.”

Dwyane Wade’s parents, Jolinda and Dwyane Wade Sr. lived in Chicago. He was 4 months old when his parents broke up and Dwyane’s mother took him to live with his grandmother. The neighborhood he grew up in was more of a crime ghetto than the supportive fostering environment that fosters a child’s development.

Soon after Jolinda got involved in drugs and alcohol and their house became a hub for drug dealing and police raids. In the heartbreaking revelation during the documentary, Dwyane revealed that he knew what his mother was doing and in one of the conversations he brought it up with her, “Mom I watched you shoot up.” He went on to elaborate, “she was so in her addiction, she didn’t realize I was right there.” Their grandma took up the role of raising him and his sister, and her house became their safe place.


As per his sister, their house was opened up to the drug dealers and the police knew about what was going on.

About his mother and his childhood, he said, “I watched her slowly kill herself and that was tough… To compute as a young kid but for me, how I made it work for me was I would never experience nothing worse than that. So bring it on, what you got? No light? Cool. No food I am hungry? Cool.

Dwyane Wade on his childhood

“Like what you got because I will never experience something that will hurt my heart as much as me watching someone, the person that I love more than anything, you know die,” he added.

They had a plan to escape from their house on the first floor to the third floor where their grandmother lived when the cops came in through the front door.

As a Kid, Dwyane Wade Was Held At Gun Point

Normally Dwyane would get out before his sister but one time she got out before him and he had to stay down in the house. That is when the police came through the front door for a possible raid.

“All I remember was a silver gun, never seen one like that and then just coming through the door first and I remember trying to hide, to get under the bed and they pulled me up and I remember them putting a gun in front of my head and they said take me to your mother,” Dwyane said.

He will never forget the incident and even though it happened way back when he was a kid, it traumatized him. Jolinda was arrested. Although he went to live with his father after living with his grandmother for a bit after that, it was short-lived.

Even though he didn’t stay with his dad and his stepmother for long, at 16 he moved in with his then-girlfriend and the mother of his two children. His love for basketball was born in that house and he played with his stepbrothers in the yard outside their home. That is where he realized he wanted something better for him and his family.

Rest, as they say, is history.

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