Dwyane Wade will play his final regular season home game Tuesday when the Miami Heat host the Philadelphia 76ers. And while the Heat still have a slight chance of slipping into the Eastern Conference playoffs, it’s likely that this game will be Wade’s last game in front of the Miami fans.
Needless to say, things will get pretty emotional at AmericanAirlines Arena, with a series of events planned before the game to honor the player Miami picked at No. 5 overall in the 2003 draft and went on to help the Heat win three NBA championships during his 16-season career.
Actually, things already got pretty emotional at the arena recently, with five people meeting with Wade at center court to thank him for contributions he’s made outside of basketball. Budweiser captured the moment in a touching commercial released Tuesday.
“You completely changed the course of my life,” said a woman who received a full-tuition scholarship through Wade.
“You cared,” said another woman, whose brother was one of the Parkland, Fla., shooting victims. Joaquin Oliver was buried in a Wade jersey, and the player honored him by writing his name on his sneakers.
“You became our hero,” said a woman whose family received a shopping spree from Wade after their house burned down days before Christmas.
One of Wade’s visitors needed no introduction. “How you doing, Mom?” Wade said to Jolinda Wade, a former drug user and seller who spent time in prison before turning her life around.
“Your mama went down a road, Dwyane, that I didn’t ever think I’d come back from,” she told her son. “But on that road, I noticed you kept showing up and you’d come see about me. And Dwyane, because you believed in me, when I got out of prison, I was a different woman.”
She added: “I am more proud of the man you have become than the basketball player. You are bigger than basketball.”