Dwyane Wade has made $180 million during his 15 year NBA career, and that’s just counting his basketball contracts. Wade has earned about $65 million in additional income just in the last five years, according to Forbes.
Yet Wade told CNBC Make It the fear of losing everything he has earned since signing his first contract with the Miami Heat in 2003 makes him “wake up out of my sleep some nights in a sweat, cold sweat.”
Wade, 36, left Marquette University after three seasons, joining the Heat five months after his 21st birthday. He grew up on Chicago’s South Side amidst violence, gangs and drugs and watched his family struggle during his youth. Money was foreign to him until he blossomed in college and became the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft.
“I’ve only had money since I’ve been 21 years old, even though I’m 36, so I went 20 years of my life where I didn’t have nothing,” Wade told Make It. “And so I still know what that struggle looks like, I still know what it feels like. It still makes me wake up out of my sleep some nights in a sweat, cold sweat, thinking I lost everything.
“For me, not growing up with money, my family not growing up with money, not knowing where your next meal will come from, those are things that drove me. Those (are) things that continue to live deep inside of me, that I just can’t get rid of, right? It’s the thing that makes me work at everything the way that I do.”
Wade went from having very little to making $2.6 million his rookie season and even though he had every intention to start saving his money then, he spent it on nice things, like cars.
“When I first came in, I remember looking at my contract, I remember thinking, ‘Oh, if I just save a million dollars a year, that’s good,’” Wade said. “And I didn’t do that. I wasn’t saving money, I was spending it as it was coming in.”
And what would he do then if he knew what he knows now?
“I would kind of stick to what I really know deep down inside, and deep down inside, it was like, I don’t ever want to struggle again,” Wade said. “I don’t ever want to feel that, what I felt before. So start putting money away now, and I would have did that.”
Wade has stuck to his plan after that initial spending spree and become a very successful businessman and activist. Wade has partnerships with Gatorade, Amazon Fashion, The Tie Bar and Away luggage. He’s the co-founder and CEO of sock company PKWY.
Wade recently told Joel Weber of Bloomberg Businessweek that one day he would like to be part of a group that owns an NBA team in Seattle. He believes Seattle is a great basketball town and would like to see the Sonics come back.
“I definitely want to be a part of ownership in the NBA,” he told Weber. “I’m not going to try to buy a team. I don’t have that kind of bread, but I definitely want to be a part of a great ownership group. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is all about players being involved in an ownership capacity. You’ve got players like Grant Hill involved in the Atlanta Hawks. Shaquille O’Neal is involved in the Sacramento Kings. It’s definitely something that I’ve talked about, some of my friends have talked about. But, first of all, I’d have to be retired.”
Wade returned to Miami in February after spending one season in Chicago and more than a half season in Cleveland. He has yet to decide if he will retire or return for a 16th season. If he does return he said it will be with the Heat. He has three sons and said he talks to them about being responsible with money.
“The fear of not having is a terrible feeling,” he said. “That never goes away. It’s something that I carry when I talk to my kids about money, when I talk to them about even the money I give them. It’s really trying to do something to them that I didn’t have, to have somebody really educate me on the importance of savings.”