Dwyane Wade returned to Marquette University over the weekend, where he received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and delivered a commencement speech to the graduating class.
“Today, we celebrate what you have accomplished as we should. Tomorrow, wake up to begin the next leg of your journey,” Wade, 40, said during his 15-minute speech, Sunday.
The three-time NBA champion, who attended Marquette from 2001 until 2003, emphasized “solitude, self-awareness, and the journey,” before revealing that a poor ACT test score almost kept him from playing basketball at the Milwaukee university.
Wade recalled the moment he received the results of his test. “Not to my surprise, I didn’t pass,” he revealed, despite hours of prep courses and night classes in preparation for the exam. “I immediately became frantic, nervous, and scared.”
He then called former Marquette coach Tom Crean, who had been recruiting Wade for the university. Wade said, “My first thought was to call coach. My voice was trembling on the phone when he picked up and through tears, I said, ‘Coach I didn’t pass.’ “
Crean’s confidence in young Wade during that time became a major inspiration for the next phase of his career, the former Miami Heat star recounted. “With a tremble in his voice, he said, ‘Dwyane, we will still proceed with our plan’ and he told me I’ll be attending Marquette University … In a couple of minutes, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. From one of the loneliest, most terrifying moments of my life to one of the most exhilarating,” Wade recalled.
“He wasn’t just recruiting me because of my basketball abilities, but because he believed that I wanted more for myself and for my family,” Wade said.
That moment of emotional whiplash is why Wade emphasizes solitude so strongly today.
“In these moments when I truly feel fear, I create space for solitude,” he explained to the graduates. “In solitude, I find understanding and I create solutions … In solitude there is nothing that would get in the way of creating the life that you want, except you.”
Wade also celebrated the honorary degree on Instagram, posing in his cap with his sister Tragil Wade-Johnson. He wrote, “Dr. Dwyane T Wade Jr has a nice ring to it.
Watch his full speech below.