Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade, 38, recently retired from the NBA after 16 seasons. Known by some as Mr. 305, he holds the Miami Heat franchise records in points, assists and steals, among several other categories. And as this writer’s favorite player, I may or may not have shed a tear when I saw him live in Los Angeles for his final game against his good friend LeBron James.
But despite Wade’s deep ties to the Sunshine State and his hometown of Chicago, where his Wade’s World Foundation focuses on at-risk youth, he’ll likely be an interesting philanthropist in the City of Angels. Wade has made a quick transition to the broadcast side of sports, joining “Inside the NBA” on TNT. What’s more, his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, has long been involved in Hollywood, starring in movies like “Bring it On” and shows like “Being Mary Jane.” The family currently lives in the Los Angeles area, and it’s become a potential site of growing giving.
The Wades are yet another wealthy Hollywood couple to watch going forward, with the duo sitting on a some $220 million, per some estimates. Wade’s World Foundation currently focuses on community-based organizations that promote education, health and social skills for children in at-risk situations. And now that Flash—yes, Wade has many nicknames—has moved on to a new stage in life, their giving may start to ramp up sooner rather than later.
Perhaps a sign of things to come, Wade and Union recently made five donations to organizations supporting healthcare for the LGBTQ community during the COVID-19 pandemic. These organizations are the Los Angeles LGBT Center, One World Community Health Centers in Nebraska, Care Resource in Florida, Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago, and Vivent Health, with offices in Wisconsin, Missouri and Colorado.
The CAA Foundation (the philanthropic branch of the talent agency that represents the couple) stated that the Wades chose these nonprofits “based on cities they have called home.” Though she grew up in California and attended UCLA, Gabrielle Union was born in Omaha. And D-Wade led the Marquette Golden Eagles to the Final Four before being drafted by the Heat in 2003.
Besides regional ties, though, what got the couple interested in LGBTQ causes?
Well, Zaya, the couple’s 12-year old daughter, came out as transgender recently. And in a sports environment that is sometimes criticized for its locker room talk, Wade has stepped into a role of leadership and advocacy. On “Ellen” earlier this year, Wade said, “Me and my wife Gabrielle Union are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community. And we are proud allies, as well. We take our roles and our responsibility as parents very seriously.”
Union later added in an Instagram post, “Meet Zaya. She’s compassionate, loving, whip-smart and we are so proud of her. It’s OK to listen to, love and respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light, good people.”
In recent years, IP has tracked the rising giving in the LGBTQ space. However, LGBTQ issues remain underfunded by philanthropy overall. In 2018, for every $100 given by U.S. foundations, 28 cents was specifically dedicated to LGBTQ issues. And now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, even more of these organizations are at at risk for shutdowns. This makes the Wades’ gift that much more timely.
For example, their support for Vivent Health, a nonprofit that provides medical and social services to people with HIV, will help fund the gap on its Radical Response to COVID-19, making sure HIV patients and clients are able to get the treatment they need while remaining safe from a circulating virus.