Jolinda Wade: 'He Can Bring You Through'
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
CBN.com - To some, this is just another boarded up building on Chicago’s south side. But to Jolinda Wade, mother of NBA superstar Dwayne Wade, this building was home for several years as she was hitting bottom as a homeless drug addict. Jolinda remembers, “I am staying in a building where there are rats the size of cats. Sometime you’re dope sick and you had to do what you had to do.”
Jolinda wade grew up in a rough neighborhood in Chicago. She excelled in school but desperately wanted to fit in with her peers. So she started drinking in 8th grade. She eventually started smoking marijuana. “I didn’t know at that particular time that this thing was going to become my crutch.”
By the time she was 18, Jolinda had already given birth to two children. That’s when she met Dwayne Wade’s father. In 1977, they married and had two children, including their now famous son. “When they brought me my precious baby, I looked at him and I was like, ‘Wow.’ And I heard Him say, ‘Blessing.’ So I didn’t know God was, I believe God was telling me to name him Blessing, but I just thought God was saying he was a blessing because he was my only son.”
When Dwayne was only 4 months old, the couple separated and later divorced. Jolinda and her children moved in with her mother in a very rough neighborhood. That’s when Jolinda started dealing drugs to support her growing drug habit. “Now I’m out here, and I’m meeting up with these people that are into these drugs and first time I see somebody that shot dope, it just like blew my mind.”
Jolinda even invited her drug using friends to get high in her home, while her kids were there. “I could look at them and I could be like, ‘I’m sorry.’ You know, I didn’t know how to say it out of my mouth, but I was saying it as I look at them, ‘I’m sorry that I’m this person. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to get out of this thing here.’”
Dwayne eventually went to live with his father in Robbins, Illinois. But he always loved coming to visit his mom. When they were together, she took Dwayne to play basketball with his friends.
Michelle Wilson, 700 Club Producer: “So this is the actual park where Dwayne would play basketball as a kid.”
Jolinda assures Michelle, “This is it. Right here. We are standing in the very spot.”
“I said, ‘Find you a game.’ And sure enough he would get over there and I would sit down there and I would be just so proud looking at my boy. You know and he would start playing his little ball and everything. And I would be over there clapping. I think I was his first cheerleader. I would be on the side, ‘Yeah.’”
Michelle asks, “Was he really good even as a kid?”
“He was really good when he was a kid. I felt he was. You know I’m a mother. I might been a little prejudiced. But I think he was.”
But as soon as her son left, Jolinda fell into her old drug habits. Mainline heroin and crack cocaine - and any other drugs she could find. She remembers the day she was shooting up – and nearly died. “I put a little in. And I heard the person say ‘Stop!’ And I was like ‘What?!!’ She said, ‘It ain’t dope.’ I said, ‘What have I just put in my arm? Call the ambulance now.’ I said, ‘I done put it in.’
“The affect of the tack didn’t happen to me until I was in the hospital and I started hallucinating while I was there. And the lady… there was a lady in there, she was such a good lady, and she started talking to me and said, ‘Baby, why are you doing this to yourself?’ And it was by the grace of God I came out of that.”
Jolinda’s drug addiction continued until 1994, when she was arrested for possessing crack cocaine with the intent to sell. She’ll never forget the look on young Dwayne when he came to visit her in jail. “I saw the look on his face. Like ‘Why is my momma behind there? What’s going on?’ He didn’t know what was going on. And I remember saying, ‘Momma loves you.’ I said, ‘Who’s your favorite girl?’ He said, ‘You are, momma.’ But he didn’t understand. He did not understand why I was behind that glass. And I was mad. I was so angry. And I went upstairs in my room and I fell on my knees and I asked God to please take care of him. And I asked God to forgive me for allowing… ‘cause I’m clean now. I’m in my right mind. ‘So forgive me, Father God, for bringing it to this point.’”
Four years later while on a work release program from jail, Jolinda decided to run. For the next several years she lived as a fugitive and a homeless drug addict. One day her daughter Deanna found her here.
Michelle: “Tell me the sights and the smells that you experienced as you walked in this abandoned building.”
Deanna, Jolinda’s Daughter: “Oh my God. Just abandonment. Oh some horrible smells. It was freezing cold in there. Ice sickles everywhere. The smell of poop, you know feces. You know it was abandoned building. Nothing working in there but they were finding a way to live.”
Michelle: “So as you were walking through this building were you angry? Were you upset?”
Deanna: “No, I was more or less in pain. I was just hurting for my mother. Being a child you know you just go through so much just thinking about where your mother is.”
Soon after that rescue, Jolinda says something prompted her to go to church. Over the next two months, a miracle happened. “I got weaned up off of heroin and alcohol in three days. It was over with in the month of October. He took cigarettes away from me in the month of November. And in the month of December, He came and He spoke to me and He said, ‘You’re going to turn yourself in.’”
Jolinda returned to prison to finish her sentence. That’s where she said she finally learned about God’s forgiveness when she received an encouraging letter from Dwayne. “He said, ‘You say I’m your hero,’ he said, ‘but you are my hero.’ Baby, I was ready to bid then. I said, “Come on with it. I’m going to do this here. Because when I leave here, it’s going to be all right. I’m going to get my family back.”
She became a Christian in jail and began to read and study the Bible. “He had me to confront all of the things I did. I cried like a baby and I kept telling him, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Forgive me Lord. I’m sorry.’ The cleansing just kept going and going and going until the healing took effect. And I looked in the mirror one day and I forgave me. I forgave me and how I knew was when He sent me out and I was able to look at my children and I didn’t feel that heavy weight no more. I really actually felt their love, because unforgiveness stopped the love from penetrating through.”
Jolinda was released from jail in March of 2003, and one of the first things she did was go to Milwaukee to see Dwayne lead his Marquette University basketball team to The Final Four.
“So I’m here and I’m looking at all these people and I’m looking at him and I’m just all excited. I’m like, ‘Man, look at my son! This is the one that God said call ‘Blessing.’ I said, ‘Look at him.’ I was so proud of him that day.”
And God was doing something in Jolinda too, preparing her to pastor her own church in the Southside of Chicago where she grew up.
She’s been drug and alcohol free for the past ten years! And she’s written a book of prayers she wrote to God while she was in jail. Her son Dwayne was so amazed by the changes he saw in his mom, he bought her a 2 million dollar church building, where he enjoys coming to hear his mom preach.
Dwayne: “I’ve seen her on the bottom. When people say rags to riches - not money rags to riches. She’s been from rags to riches in life. People think what I’ve done in life has been miraculous. No-no this is miraculous! Yes it is.”
Jolinda has reconciled with her children. And she makes sure she’s in the stands to cheer Dwayne on in everyone of his NBA games.
“You can believe the Bible is true. He has restored our relationship as a family, my grandchildren. I have seven grandkids now and one on the way. Oh my God, it’s just really mind blowing what’s going on in my life.”
“There’s a light that shines and if you follow that light it will take you through. You got to stand up and you got to rise and you got to believe by faith that He can bring you through just like He did me.”
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