When the Heat selected Dwyane Wade with the fifth overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, Wade confided in his high school coach, Jack Fitzgerald, that he hoped to play at least 10 years in the NBA.
He retired with six more than he had hoped for, and he never has forgotten the humble beginnings that laid the groundwork for his Hall of Fame career.
‘‘I was a little kid running around here for a long time,’’ Wade said.
On Thursday, Wade kicked off NBA All-Star Weekend by returning to the place where it all began, Richards High School, for a debut screening of his ESPN film ‘‘D. Wade: Life Unexpected.’’ It will be shown at 9 p.m. Feb. 23 on ESPN.
‘‘I never got an opportunity to have an All-Star Game in Chicago while I was playing,’’ Wade said. ‘‘I wish I would have, but I’m happy to be a part of it and to be a part of it in a big way. Being able to release my documentary this week and to be able to do some other cool things and still be around the game.’’
As the film ended, Wade walked into Richards’ new auditorium to cheers that felt reminiscent of his playing days.
- Dwyane Wade’s feature documentary, D. Wade: Life Unexpected debuts on ESPN February 23 at 9 P.M. Annie Costabile/Sun-Times
- Dwyane Wade met Evanston native, Cassidy Hubbarth on stage at Richards High School to discuss his feature documentary. Annie Costabile/Sun-Times
- Dwyane Wade and Bob Metelus who directed and executive produced the feature documentary answered questions in front of students at Richards High School. Annie Costabile/Sun-Times
- Dwyane Wade told his high school basketball coach, Jack Fitzgerald he wanted to last 10 years in the NBA after being drafted by the Miami Heat in 2003. Annie Costabile/Sun-Times
- Dwyane Wade talked with students at Richards High School about his feature documentary, D.Wade: Life Unexpected. Annie Costabile/Sun-Times
‘‘Oh, my god, it’s D. Wade!’’
‘‘I knew he was going to come out!’’
‘‘Dwyane Wade is right there!’’
Echoes of those sentiments were shouted from every corner of the room as Wade met ESPN host and Chicago-area native Cassidy Hubbarth on the stage for a Q&A.
Directed and executive-produced by longtime Wade friend Bob Metelus, ‘‘Life Unexpected’’ took 10 years to film and offers a personal look into Wade’s life. It shares the three-time NBA champion’s experiences in the league and beyond, taking viewers all the way through his final season.
Intimate moments between Wade and daughter Zaya, as their family embraces her gender identity, are documented, too. The courage his daughter has displayed publicly and privately has helped Wade grow as a parent, he said.
‘‘My daughter is no different when it comes to just giving me the ability in life to see things differently, to understand life differently, to be a better person and to want to be a better person for her or for them,’’ Wade said.
As Chicago embraces All-Star Weekend, Wade is embracing his second act.
He never envisioned being an All-Star, but he played in the game 13 times. His work ethic allowed him to accomplish more than he ever dreamed of.
He said he’s approaching his second act the same way.
‘‘I just want to find the passions and the things that I’m excited about,’’ Wade said. ‘‘I think [late Lakers star] Kobe [Bryant] led the way in that.
‘‘That’s one of the things that a lot of us are going to miss: having him out in the forefront, leading the way and showing all of us that we can win an Emmy, we can win an Oscar, we can do these different things as athletes. I guess myself and other guys are out front now, and we have to lead the way for the next generation.’’