But, when you
have it, money carries nowhere near the psychic weight that it does when you
don't. Sooner than he could imagine, Wade's amazement faded; in fact, in July
he signed a three-year contract extension that, including an option for a
fourth year, could pay him up to $62 million. (This season he's making $3.84
million with a pretax 10%, $384,000 going to his church in Chicago.) "God
has blessed me with so many great earthly things," Wade says. "It
seemed so dark for 21 years, and then I've come into this newfound money and
life and excitement. It's scary because once you get to the point where you're
so high? There's nowhere else for you to go but down. Will I fall? How hard is
that fall going to be? What is going to come with that fall?"
No one close to
Wade is nearly that worried about his future. For the last decade he has lived
by a strict code: His mother did drugs, drank and smoked; Dwyane doesn't do any
of that. His parents split up when he was a baby, leaving him without a father
during his formative years; Dwyane married Siohvaughn after she became pregnant
and spent part of his time in college raising a son. "A lot of times I'll
look at that and say, 'Was that a good idea though?'" Tragil says of
starting a family so young. "I tell him to think about it: You can't fix
what happened to us with your own life."
But damned if
Wade isn't going to try. He gave Zaire the middle name of Blessing, and
Siohvaughn is expecting their second child. Just as he believes in the
salvation of family, Wade is clear-sighted about the work it takes to keep the
family whole. For high school sweethearts, sharing a lifetime together is hard
enough without adding the explosive properties of fame, big money and a parade
of groupies. "I pray," Siohvaughn says. "I do a lot of
wasn't scared she wouldn't have feelings," Wade says. "If it was the
other way around, and she blew up famous? I'd be nervous. It's my job to keep
her not scared; I've got to let her know that I'm here for her just like she's
always been there for me. Hopefully it's forever. You take those vows, you say
forever, you want it to be forever. I know things happen. A lot of people say,
'Don't you wish, when you came in the league, that you were single in Miami?'
You know what? There's times in a young man's life when you want freedom, when
you want to be by yourself, but I also understand when times get hard--because
they do get hard--she's always there to back me up. She's always there to hug
me and say, 'It's going to be O.K.' Those are the moments I look at her and
know: It's all worth it."
But here's the
factor, more than any other, that may decide if Dwyane Wade can survive even
success: he likes difficulty. Ease makes him anxious. Perfect makes him squirm.
But set him up with an early childhood from hell? Put him in a two-game hole in
the Finals? He dares you to doubt him. Last month injuries to Shaq and Jason
Williams sent Miami into free fall. With Wade carrying the load alone, the Heat
went 7-9, lost to the lowly New York Knicks by 24 at home, gave no hint of a
champion's edge. Publicly, Wade pronounced himself frustrated. But he was far
"To me, it's
the bad moments that make a person," he says. "You're going to fall.
It's how you get up that defines you as a man. Anybody can be great in life
when things are going good. What about when things are going bad? This is what
I like because this is how I'll know what kind of team I have. This is how I
know what kind of player I am. How are we going to find a way to overcome this?
That's going to decide whether we're a championship team and whether I'm a good
player or great. I love it. It's my life."