The world of sports is littered with incredible stories. In fact, these days it seems like every professional athlete has a story worth telling. That’s where ESPN comes in. Former NBA star Dwayne Wade has lived an unbelievable life and now the worldwide leader in sports is telling his story.
D. Wade: Life Unexpected follows the basketball star’s life from childhood all the way up to his retirement from the sport he loves. The new documentary gives us a glimpse into Wade’s world at every step along the way.
The documentary opens with a video Wade shot of himself the morning after his final NBA game. It’s an emotional beginning that allows us to see just how passionate Wade is about the game of basketball before we ever even get introduced to him (assuming you aren’t already familiar with him as a player) or see him play a game.
We then get a brief overview of Wade’s career and life before going back to start from the beginning with a look at his childhood. The most interesting thing to me about this documentary is that there isn’t really one story to tell about Dwayne Wade. Most athletes with a memorable story are known for one thing, with that one thing typically being negative. For Wade, there’s a lot of ups and downs and a variety of different stories to tell, so the doc never stays in one place too long.
We get a quick look at his childhood which doesn’t take long to progress into his love of basketball. That then quickly transitions into his time playing in college for Marquette University and before you know it, he’s being drafted into the NBA.
Interestingly, my one complaint about the recent 30 for 30 documentary “Vick” was that it spent a bit too much time in his childhood and moved a bit too slowly. D. Wade: Life Unexpected actually move a bit too quickly for me. I would have liked to spend a little more time on each of these interesting stories from Wade’s life. Of course, comparing the two isn’t really fair because of the vast difference in runtimes (roughly an hour and a half for D. Wade: Life Unexpected and nearly four hours for “Vick”).
With that being said, I really enjoyed the stories we do get to see. The one I found particularly interesting was the behind-the-scenes look at Miami’s big three coming together. LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining Wade in Miami was one of the biggest stories in sports in the past 20+ years, so it’s been dissected from every possible angle. Still, it was a lot of fun to watch from the perspective of one of those big three, especially when he was unsure of whether or not it was actually going to happen.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this documentary was the overall positive light it shed on Wade’s career and life as a whole. As I mentioned, athletes with memorable stories are typically the ones that have done something wrong. We remember Vick for the dogfighting, Bonds for the steroids and so on. Those are the stories typical sports documentaries focus on. That’s not the case here.
Sure, it points out some of Wade’s mistakes. It highlights his divorce and complicated legal battle, his temporary lapse in his relationship with Gabrielle Union and some other errors, but it never dwells on them. Instead, it shows a professional athlete with the courage and intelligence to admit to his mistakes and make them right. It never stays down for too long before coming right back up.
There are a lot of interesting stories to be told in the life and career of Dwayne Wade. Personally, I feel that D. Wade: Life Unexpected could have taken a bit more time in telling some of those stories, but I definitely enjoyed what I saw. In other words, my only complaint about this new documentary is that I wish there was more of it.
D. Wade: Life Unexpected will premiere on ESPN on February 23.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”