Dwayne Wade is one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. Being a major basketball fan, I have followed Wade’s career since he was in college, starting during his legendary run of taking Marquette University on a Cinderella-run to the Final Four in 2003. But even following Wade’s legendary career and for him being one of the best players to ever step on the hardwood, Wade’s personal life was somewhat of a mystery to me. D. Wade: Life Unexpected gives us a front row seat into Wade’s life, from when he was a child to his final game as an NBA player and it is an interesting, emotional journey.
The format of Life Unexpected is pretty typical when it comes to a sports documentary, as it goes from the time Wade was born until his retirement from basketball. But what makes the film more fascinating is how open Wade and all the interviewees are to a lot of tough subjects. The film starts by looking at Wade’s life as a kid, growing up poor in a tough part of Chicago. Director Bob Metelus interviews Wade, along with family members like his mother, father, sister, and cousin to give us a picture of the life he grew up in. Wade and his family are very open and don’t sugarcoat how tough their life was growing up. His mother was addicted to drugs and in jail, his father had a drinking problem, and there were police raids all the time at his childhood home and everyone discusses the problems they had growing up and how it effected Wade’s life. It is eye-opening to see what Wade had to go through growing up and only makes his legendary career more impressive.
Metelus gives us some really in-depth, unseen footage of Wade and his journey. We see clips of him getting drafted by the Miami Heat, footage of him going through free agency, the formation of the Big Three with Lebron James and Chris Bosh and how they all went from beloved superstars to some of the most hated players in the NBA, his championships, when he left Miami and when he came back. We also see footage of his troubled divorce to his first wife, the custody battle with his kids, the blossoming relationship with his current wife, actress Gabrielle Union, and his relationship with his kids, which has and forever will be his top priority. Though this documentary is only an hour-and-a-half long and covering Wade’s entire life, we get a great understanding of who Wade was as a person or a player. His hard work, his determination, and his love for his family is all over the film.
The summer of 2010 was a big summer for NBA free agency and it was when Lebron James and Chris Bosh joined Wade in Miami, creating the Big Three and changing basketball forever. After their first season of the Big Three ended in them losing in NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, Wade sat down with Lebron James and told him that for Miami to win, he has to take over. Miami had been Wade’s team since he got there in 2003 and Wade passing the torch to James for the sake of championships perfectly symbolizes who Wade was as a player and as a person. Though given the nickname “Flash” by former teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Wade was not a flashy player for being one of the greatest players to ever play the superstar position. He was the humble superstar and Life Unexpected shows us how he became that. Life Unexpected is a perfect title for this documentary because after his tough up-bringing, Wade never expected any of this, but he is proof that with hard work, determination, and love for those around you, you can accomplish anything.
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