When most professional athletes retire there are sure to be both fanfare and tears, but as NBA superstar Dwyane Wade steps away from his career with the Miami Heat he leaves behind a legacy that’s “bigger than basketball.”
Even as his career blossomed on the court Dwyane has worked behind the scenes as a philanthropist. Over the years we’ve seen him handing out Target gift cards to underprivileged kids, setting up college scholarships for students without the means to pursue their goals, and reaching out to school shooting survivors and families just to see if there was anything he could do to ease their pain.
Dwyane is so highly respected both on and off the basketball court that Budweiser honored him with an emotional video tribute on the eve of his last game in Miami, Florida. Since the player has a habit of trading jerseys with other players, amassing a large collection which he displays on his wall, Budweiser decided to fill in the gaps on that jersey wall with a few special articles from some of the people whose lives he’s changed for the better.
As Dwyane stood in the empty Heat arena, one-by-one his special guests enter to speak with him. Each person holds an article of clothing that is important to them, and their heartfelt words of thanks to this superstar who manages to remain humble and helpful are sure to move you to tears.
The recipient of a college scholarship Dwyane set up to pay her college tuition in full offers him her college cap and gown, thanking him for helping her achieve her dream of higher education in spite of her family’s financial hardship.
A woman who lost her brother to the unspeakable violence of the Parkland shooting brought her brother’s own basketball jersey to trade, recalling how much it meant to their family to see that Dwyane had written her brother’s name on his shoe during a game after the tragedy.
A man from a poor neighborhood in Miami came to tell Dwyane how much he’d inspired him, offering up the shirt and jacket he wore to his first job interview. A woman who had lost everything in a house fire recalled the devastation they felt afterward, followed by the joy and shock of having Dwyane step up to pay for a shopping spree for her whole family.
But the most emotional part of the tribute was when Dwyane’s mother Jolinda appeared. Jolinda admits that even as her son’s star was rising she was screwing up her own life in terrible ways. She even spent time in prison, but as she worked to get her life back together she noticed that he was the one person who never wavered in his love and support for her. After she got sober and got out of jail Dwyane even bought her a church to encourage a spiritual lifestyle.
“I am more proud of the man you have become than the basketball player,” Jolinda told him. “You are bigger than basketball.”
As soon as the ad hit the internet there was an immediate reaction. Even people who knew about Dwayne’s generous nature and drive to help others were moved to tears by the tender message. Dwyane’s wife, actress Gabrielle Union was among the thousands who were moved to tears.
Goodbyes are always bittersweet, but something tells us that now that Dwyane has more free time on his hands he’ll continue to quietly do good deeds for others. This is simply not the sort of person who acts because it’s expected of him; he follows his heart and spreads around the success he’s achieved with others, which is possibly the greatest accomplishment we can hope to accomplish here on earth.
Grab a tissue and watch the incredibly moving Budweiser video below, and don’t forget to share.
— Budweiser (@budweiserusa) April 9, 2019
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