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In honor of last night’s conclusion of the NBA Finals (Go Mavs!), it seems appropriate to call attention to a great op-ed piece last Friday in the Chicago Tribune by Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who grew up in Chicago. Over the last few years, Wade has gone through a bitter, ugly divorce (he married his high school girlfriend) and briefly lost custody of his two sons, Zaire and Zion. This March, he was awarded full custody of the two boys, ages 8 and 4.
From what I’ve heard of the NBA, it doesn’t always seem like a particularly family-friendly environment, so it was encouraging to read about Wade’s commitment to being a good dad:
I was seriously motivated to be a full-time parent for my sons. My mother and father weren’t together when I was a kid growing up in Chicago, and early on my mother fell victim to drug abuse. At 9 years old, I moved in with my father because my mother could no longer care for me. Looking back, I now see so many similarities between my own childhood and that of my sons….All children need their fathers, but boys especially need fathers to teach them how to be men. I remember wanting that so badly before I went to live with my dad.
His passion for his kids doesn’t always seem to have been well-received by his Miami teammates:
I could say I was surprised at the criticism I received for traveling from Miami to Chicago so often during the regular season for my custody court cases, but nothing really surprises me anymore. I had a duty to fight to be with my kids, and I did it.
But he felt the hard work on behalf of his kids was worth the struggle, Wade says:
I just want people — men, and men of color in particular — to hear my story and know that their children need them and that it’s their responsibility to be there for them. We have to step up as men and do our part. There are no excuses.
Love that. I’m glad the Dallas Mavericks beat him last night, but I wish Dwyane Wade the best. Hope he enjoys the off-season with his boys.