Dwyane Wade Reflects on Kobe Bryant's Wish to Inspire Others in Jersey Retirement Speech


Dwyane Wade reiterated a message near and dear to Kobe Bryant’s heart at his jersey retirement ceremony.

As his Miami Heat jersey was retired during the middle of the home team’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, Wade paid tribute to the late NBA star in a powerful speech.

“Kobe said the most important thing is to try to inspire others so they can be great in whatever they choose to do. I hope I’ve inspired all of you,” he said. “Thank you for making me a part of your legacy. Please know you are a huge part of mine. God bless you all. Heat Nation, I love you, thank you.”

Afterward, Wade, 38, continued to open up about the profound impact Bryant’s Jan. 26 death has had on him.

“The impact that the passing of Kobe has done on myself and so many others is it’s made us sit down and stop. Life goes so fast. We move at a rapid pace. It’s made me enjoy the moment more,” he said, according to ESPN. “It’s made me want to create more memories. It definitely put a lot of things in perspective. As athletes, we’re looked at as superheroes. We looked at Kobe as a superhero. That moment has touched all of us and will continue to.”

Wade added, “Kobe was leading the way — he retired and showed us in his next act after retirement that you can master that, as well. He mastered basketball, he mastered being an amazing father, he mastered being a husband, he mastered being a creator. He was showing us the way, and now we don’t have that. So I do have a responsibility to be that guy and show the way for the next generation.”

In addition to cheering on Wade throughout the ceremony, Gabrielle Union and their daughter Kaavia James also helped raise a flag with his No. 3 jersey on it.

A video posted by the Miami heat shows Union, 47, with a big smile on her face as she holds their daughter in one hand while hoisting the flag into the air with the other.

“The No. 3 will hang forever,” the team captioned the post. “Congratulations on a #L3GENDARY career, @dwyanewade!”

Ahead of the ceremony, as the Heat kicked off a weekend-long celebration of Wade, former teammate and pal LeBron James also paid tribute to the retired NBA player.

“D. Wade, I just want to say congratulations to you, man, on getting your jersey retired,” James said in a pre-recorded video on Friday. “Am I really sitting here congratulating you on something that we both knew was going to happen when we were sitting there pre-draft in Chicago? I feel like, as soon as the Miami Heat drafted you, and said, ‘Dwyane Wade out of Marquette,’ that the name and the jersey was going up in the rafters? I think it was inevitable.

Wade began his career with the Heat in 2003, playing with the team until 2016. After briefly playing for the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers, he returned to Miami to finish out his career, retiring in April 2019.

Union also supported Wade throughout the weekend, posting a photograph of the pair cuddled up together during Friday’s L3GACY Celebration.

“Thighs, Guys, & Rides,” she captioned the snaps from the night out for “Mom & Dad”

Wade recently sat down with PEOPLE and spoke about how Bryant’s legacy was so much more than just his storied career in the NBA.

“His legacy is what he was in the process of building that we all got a chance to watch, right?” says Wade, 38. “We’ve seen what he did for basketball. We’ve seen that legacy.”

“But the legacy he was building outside of there was being there for the players, being a voice for the next generation,” he added. Working them out, being on the court with them, being there in his kids’ lives, being a real all-star, superstar parent. Being an amazing husband.”

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