Miami Heat player Dwayne Wade appears nude on the cover of ESPN’s Body Issue. In an essay accompanying his photo, the 34-year-old said he felt like he was 28 last season and believes he has “some good years. See the photos after the cut…
Wade told the magazine that from 2012 through 2014, during the Big Three era, “those years were so hard for me. I felt like my body was betraying me — out of nowhere, there was so much pain in my knee. Anytime I made a move, and I mean like a step or a walk, any move was painful. I remember just thinking at one point, ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ This is something that’s very important to my sport, my career and my future. And it got to a point where I was thinking, ‘Man, do I want to continue to feel all this pain?’
“I felt like my body was betraying me. It was every game, it was every day, literally. During drills in practice one day, I thought, ‘Nobody in this gym knows how much pain I’m in right now.’ It hurt to run, stop, plant, and it’s killing me. But I didn’t let people know. I didn’t use no excuse. I just tried to do my therapy to fight through it.”
But after working with a new trainer and changing the focus of his training last offseason, Wade missed only seven games due to injury, down from 20 the previous season.
“I’d say I probably felt like I was 28 this season,” he said. “There were times when I did certain things and was like, ‘Man! That was like young me!’ And then there were other times when I played my old-school game and played at my own pace.”
He said he “never envisioned that I would be playing this long. I think I always told myself that my body would tell me, ‘Hey, I gave you enough, it’s time.’ So whenever my body tells me that, I’ll listen to it and then I’ll make that decision. But nah, I’m not there yet. I’ve got some good years left.”
He said appearing in ESPN’s Body Issue “is bigger than looking at an athlete’s body. It’s more about the story we are telling of overcoming my fear of doing this. I had a fear of being naked in front of others and a fear of being judged. When I was young, my belly button was an outie, and I never even wanted to take my shirt off when we were at the swimming pool or outside during water fights. The only people who went into the pool with their shirts on were the kids who were overweight — and me. I knew that I was different…. I was just never comfortable until about four years ago, when I started feeling comfortable with my body overall.”
The body issue will be available on line on July 6 and in newsstands July 8. Besides Wade, 18 other athletes are photographed in the issue, include former UM and NFL star Vince Wilfork, former Olympic diver Greg Louganis, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown