There are few things I love and loathe as much as an emotional ad based on real life. I love them because they make me feel things. I also hate them because they make me feel things.
This Budweiser ad honoring Dwyane Wade’s retirement just obliterated me.
[Go deeper: Here’s how Dwyane Wade engineered the ultimate NBA retirement tour]
The premise of the ad is simple enough: Wade has been collecting players’ jerseys all season during his farewell tour to decorate a wall of his house. Budweiser told Wade they had five more jerseys to finish his wall — inviting him to American Airlines Arena and being surprised at mid-court.
Those final five spots were filled by people whose lives were changed because of Wade’s actions off the court.
- The sister of a victim lost in the Parkland shooting. Joaquin Oliver’s favorite player was Wade, and the NBA superstar wrote the boy’s name on his shoes for a game to honor his memory.
- A woman whose house burned down before Christmas. Wade took them on a shopping spree.
- A man whose life was going down a dark path. Until Wade’s words inspired him to change everything.
- A woman who desperately wanted to go to college, but couldn’t afford it. Until Wade’s organization gave her a full-tuition scholarship.
- Wade’s own mother, Jolinda Wade — who struggled with addiction, went to prison, and turned her life around through the help of her son.
Wade’s mother closes the ad on the eve of Wade’s retirement with a statement that will reverberate for decades to come:
“I am more proud of the man you have become than the basketball player. You are bigger than basketball.”