In an interview with ESPN, Wade said "I've seen the needles laying around the house. I've seen a lot of things my mother didn't even know I'd seen as a kid." At the age of 6, he recalls police – with guns drawn – raiding his home as they searched for his mother.When Wade turned 8 years old, his older sister, Tragil, tricked him – by telling him they were going to the movies – into living with his father, a former Army sergeant, and stepmother in a nearby neighborhood. A year later, his father moved the family to Robbins, Illinois.
After a successful college career at Marquette, Wade was drafted fifth overall in the 2003 NBA draft by Miami.
He cites one of his older sisters, Tragil, as the individual most responsible for his childhood upbringing and for steering him in the proper direction. Wade was recruited by only three college basketball teams (Marquette University, Illinois State, and De Paul University) due to academic problems.
During most of Wade's time at Marquette, his mother was either eluding the law or serving time in jail for selling crack cocaine.
Wade stated that "[his] mom was on drugs and [his] family was in the gang environment, so it was a rough childhood." At a very young age, Wade already witnessed police raids and found dead bodies several times in a nearby garbage can.
When he was only 4 months old, his parents separated – and would later divorce.