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Dwyane Wade: An Underdog’s Life

Last Updated: September 29, 2022
The future Hall of Famer joins the premiere episode of “Boardroom Book Club” to discuss his new photo-driven memoir DWYANE, becoming a NBA co-owner, and living life as an underdog.

Being a Miami Heat legend ought to be enough. A two-time NBA champion? A sweet bonus. A future Basketball Hall of Famer? Absolute gravy.

But all that was never going to be enough for Dwyane Wade, the man who faced long odds and legions of doubters since even before he became a household name as a two-way guard with a penchant for taking over basketball games with a Chicago-tuned tenacity that would not be denied.

Upon the release of his new photography-driven memoir, DWYANE, the chip on the shoulder of the kid Shaquille O’Neal dubbed Flash is as prominent as ever.

And as he told us in the premiere episode of “Boardroom Book Club,” it’s precisely the thing that continues to propel him — whether to the world of crypto technology, the Utah Jazz owners’ box, or all points beyond.

SAM DUNN: What contributed to the decision to make this a photo-driven memoir?

DWYANE WADE: I’ve seen so many different memoirs or biographies, and I kinda wanted to do it in my own way a little bit. I didn’t reinvent anything, but I was just trying to add my own special touch to it. And so the fact that I had photos that was already stocked, that I’ve been taking for the last 11 years with my photographer, Bob Metelus. That was a good place to start, and we just kind of started saying, listen, what are we never have known what we’re gonna do with all of these photos, but now’s maybe the time. And for me, I was trying to wrap up my career and I had different things that I wanted to do at the end.

The first thing was the “One Last Dance” tour. When I did that dramatic video deciding to tell everyone I was coming back, the next one was, I wanted to do jersey swaps on the court — to bring that to the NBA and make that continue. I wanted to do a documentary, something that I was able to accomplish.

And then, there was this book. We were able to put it together and I’m super excited about it.

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SD: How did Bob Metelus enter this story?

As organically as possible. Bob and my business manager, Lisa Joseph, met and started dating. And what’s crazy about it is I told Lisa like two years before Bob even came around, these things, the NBA, these moments are going by so fast. I’m gonna miss them, and I would love to have somebody around to capture these moments, because one day, I want to brag to my kids and my grandkids and be like, look, your pops was a bad boy.

It started off as that. Bob came around and he had a background in photography; Lisa told him, ‘bro, bring your camera.’ And he eventually brought his camera on the trip and took a couple of photos. I fell in love with the moments that he captured that wasn’t. So, you know, I wasn’t posing. I was just kind of in moments and he was catching captured on moments and I was like, that’s what I want to do. And so that’s kind of how it started.

SD: Does this type of presentation allow you able to view some of these moments differently than when you lived them?

DW: Even though I was a part of creating his work, [it] allowed me to go back and see them — even myself — through a different lens. Even the Parkland portion, we lived through that in Florida, but to go back and look at those photos and look at a community that really came together and how we were there for each other, it’s special. It’s very special.

So I give Bob so much credit for capturing those moments. I tell people all the time is what you guys see as a snapshot takes five to six hours to find that perfect moment sometimes. He has the innate ability to find it, so I’m just so happy to be able to partner with a friend — someone who has turned into family — on this project.

SD: You have this rare opportunity now to step back and evaluate your life and career. In that big-picture view, are your proudest accomplishments?

DW: I think if there’s an answer in this moment for me, it’s that I did not give up. It’s that I did not quit.

I try to tell my son as much as possible, but you can’t tell them — you’ve got to experience it. It’s so many incidents, so many instances in my life where I could have quit [from] how hard it was, and it’s not just practicing hard. It’s hard when your mom goes to jail when you’re nine. It’s hard when you don’t pass your ACT and you got to go to college and sit out a year. It’s hard when you have a kid at 19 years old in college.

[With] all these things that could have stopped me, what I’m most proud of is that I did not quit. I did not give up on a dream that I had as a kid. And I was able to experience it and live it out in front of the entire world. And it was amazing.

SD: Do you still feel like an underdog now?

DW: I will always feel like an underdog. It’s the community that I come from. It’s the place where I was born and raised. It’s a mentality, and it’s reality at the same time.

I’m always on the hustle. I’m always trying to better myself no matter what I accomplish, it never is never enough, you know?

I’m always pushing myself to experience more, do more, want more, and, and that starts with listening. It starts with keeping your eyes open and watching where elders are doing, what’s going on in the world. That chip on the shoulder is always there.

SD: How did you get involved with NFTs, and what made you decide to tie them into the book release?

DW: As you get older, you, you try not to get left behind. There’s so many things going on in the world right now — we’re in the epicenter of change, a world evolving, and it’s going fast.

My son’s out here a lot, and I’ll be like, ‘yo, I’m gonna need you to learn about NFTs and crypto and all that.’ You know, I’m focused on so many things and I can’t focus on it all, so I’ve tasked Zaire with it. But when it comes to getting involved with Dapper Labs and NBA Top Shot, that was something that was enticing to me because of the opportunity to do something different than maybe they had been doing that time.

I’m excited about being the first to do it the way we’ve done it. We kind of set a bar and I’m about to watch all these other guys jump over it, but that was an opportunity I had because I asked the NBA to give me my [image and likeness] rights and I was able to kind of go off and do that deal. And when it comes to the NFT with the book, I just thought it was an amazing opportunity to be able to give everyone who’s supporting us another way to be able to experience this art. I’m excited about it.

SD: How are you settling into this next chapter as a co-owner of the Utah Jazz? How is the experience of working alongside Ryan Smith?

I think what made this move probably very enticing to me was Ryan Smith. Getting to know and continue to get to know the person. The man. And you cannot have a conversation with Ryan and not walk away with a feeling that he just wants to do it right when it comes to Utah, how he wants to build it and bring all the beauty out of it.

I was drawn to him as a 42-year-old man; I’m turning 40, [and] I was like, you know what? This is someone that I want to grow with as a friend, someone I want to grow with as a business partner. And the first thing we’re doing together is the Utah Jazz.

That’s a very big thing to do, but this won’t be the last.

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About The Author
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn is the Managing Editor of Boardroom. Before joining the team, he was an editor and multimedia talent for several sports and culture verticals at Minute Media and an editor, reporter, and site manager at SB Nation. A specialist in content strategy, copywriting, and SEO, he has additionally worked as a digital consultant in the corporate services, retail, and tech industries. He cannot be expected to be impartial on any matter regarding the Florida Gators or Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter @RealFakeSamDunn.