10 22 2014
  8:27 am  
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(CNN) -- Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade says he felt numb as a child when he watched his mother inject herself with heroin.

"My mom didn't know I had seen her shoot up," he said.

Jolinda Wade managed to overcome her addiction. But her son's new book, "A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball," offers his perspective on her drug use for the first time.

His mother says that seeing the story through her son's eyes was emotional for her.

"My precious boy saw me with the needle in my arm," she said from Chicago. "There were a lot of things that we had not talked about that they had seen."

The book jumps from Wade's tumultuous childhood with his sister on the south side of Chicago to his more recent past, when the 30-year-old NBA star was awarded joint custody of his two sons after a bitter court battle with his ex-wife.

He credits his older sister, Tragil, with helping shield him from the trauma of his mother's addiction. She took 10-year-old Dwyane to live with his father, Dwyane Wade Sr., in Robbins, Illinois, away from the drug deals and police raids he had grown accustomed to.

"My father stepped up," Wade said. "I'm successful today because my father stepped up."

Wade's talent also helped him emerge from his turbulent early life to become one of professional basketball's most prominent players. After leading the Marquette University Golden Eagles to the Final Four, he entered the NBA as the No. 5 draft pick in 2003. Now a guard for the Miami Heat, he has helped his team win two NBA championships.

But his mother's transformation is arguably more remarkable than her son's. Jolinda Wade, 57, is now a pastor in Chicago -- and drug-free. She runs the church New Creation Binding and Loosing Ministries and the community center Barrier Breakdown Transformed, which caters to people in need.

The community center serves as a safe haven for children affected by Chicago's teacher strike.

"I'm able to give people hope," she said.

One of the most poignant parts of her son's book comes when he tells his mother that she's still his favorite girl -- even when she is in the throes of her addiction.

Now, Wade said, "We have a great relationship." She has eight grandchildren ranging in age from 1 to 21, including Wade's sons, Zaire, 10, and Zion, 5.

That mom appeal is helping diversify Wade's fan base. At a recent book signing at the public library in downtown Atlanta, there was a strong contingent of women amid a sea of young men and boys clad in Miami Heat jerseys.

Alice Doanes, who just celebrated her 71st birthday in August, was one of them. She is a mother, a grandmother, a retired teacher and an ardent Wade fan. She stood in the line that wrapped around the block, clutching her copy of "A Father First," hoping to get her picture taken with the NBA star. "I always admired him, because he looked like a clean-cut guy."

She had a long wait ahead of her: Fans said they had been standing in line for several hours.

Wade can count his favorite girl among the book's fans. Even with its candid account of his childhood, Jolinda Wade said, "I love the book."

 

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