Published by William Morrow on September 4, 2012
Genres: Non-Fiction, Biography, Sports
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Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat is one of the superstars of the NBA—and a Gold Medal winner at the Bejing Olympics—but he’s A Father First. In this moving and triumphant memoir, Wade shares his inspiring thoughts about fathers and sons, writing poignantly about the gratifying responsibilities of being a single dad to his two sons, Zaire and Zion, while recounting his own growing up years and his memorable rise to the top echelon of professional basketball.
I’ve recently begun listening to audiobooks in my downtime, and have chosen memoirs and biographies as a good audiobook format. Non-fiction, I found to be too technical and uninteresting in audio format. Fiction was too slow. Biography and memoir—especially when read by the author—comes across as a conversation.
One of my initial forays into audiobooks was A Father First by Dwyane Wade. Despite the title, the major emphasis on the book is Wade’s childhood and path to the NBA. Wade’s story is absolutely incredible, and yet all too common. Most of those with Wade’s upbringing never have the chance to write about their home life. They never escape the cycle.
Without being judgmental, Wade’s straightforward telling gives readers insight into the damaging effects of poverty, drug addiction, and police violence. He highlights both sides of growing up in the ghetto: the safety provided by being related to high-ranking gang members and the ever-present danger of those same streets. He speaks lovingly of his grandmother—the God-fearing family matriarch—whose children have alternately fallen into gang violence and drug use.
In one poignant episode, he speaks of the police raiding his apartment on the suspicion that his mom was dealing drugs. An eight year old Wade hides under the bed, only to be forced out at gunpoint by police and told to get his mom to open the bathroom door. With a gun to the back of his head, Wade asks his mom to unlock the door so he can come in. No drugs are found. Mrs. Wade is not arrested.
That would not always be the case. Mama Wade’s drug habit put her in and out of prison, culminating in being a fugitive for many years after walking away from a work-release program. She would eventually give her life to Christ, turn herself in, and begin a ministry while behind bars. She is currently an ordained pastor at a church she began. I almost wanted to hear her story over Dwyane’s!
When Wade hits college, things shift a bit and focus more on basketball. Unfortunately, a lot of the basketball content reads like a stat sheet. It comes off as informative, sure, but not personally compelling. Everything is mechanical and devoid of emotion. It was definitely not written by Wade.
The last fourth or so of the book is both critical and difficult. Wade details his messy divorce and custody battle with his ex-wife. In some ways, I suspect that a big reason for the timing of this book was to generate positive PR after all the negative press that his divorce drama brought. It does well to bring us into the present day of the book (2012).
I chose to listen to this book because Wade retired at the end of the season. It’s a new chapter for him and I wanted to know and understand the previous chapters. He’s been a force on and off the court and I look forward to a new and future edition that finishes the story of his career.
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