President Obama was abandoned by his father when he was two. Fortunately for him, he had two grandparents who, in his words, “poured everything they had into helping my mother raise my sister and me.” In the Father’s Day edition of Parade Magazine this past week, Obama adds, “I still felt the weight of his absence throughout my childhood. In many ways, I came to understand the importance of fatherhood through its absence in my life and in the lives of others. I came to understand the hole a man leaves when he abandons his responsibility to his children is one that no government can fill.”
On his first Father’s Day as President, Obama not only published an article on the subject, he invited a number of famous men to travel to inner city community halls and high schools for mentoring sessions with local fathers and D.C. youth. The President and his star-studded entourage then came together for a town hall meeting to again talk about the importance of fatherhood and personal responsibility. The goal, according to the White House, was to help those with whom they met to “strengthen their families and their communities”.
So the question is: why was a lowlife like Miami Heat superstar Dwayne Wade invited to participate in these Father’s Day celebrations? And how could the President expect young black men to take his message of personal responsibility seriously when he sends Dwayne Wade into their midst parading around as a role model for young people? Is the President so enamored with the rich and famous that he would turn his Father’s Day events into a meaningless shame just so he can shoot the breeze with the NBA superstar?
The kids deserve better from you, Mr. President — you claimed you understood the “hole” left by fathers who abandon their children. What about the “holes” your buddy Dwayne left in the hearts of his two young sons when he abandoned them to hook-up with women other than their mom? In court documents associated with the divorce proceedings filed in 2007, Dwayne’s wife alleged that Dwayne “abandoned his children [and] committed adultery…” In January of this year she is quoted as saying Dwayne has not seen his sons in months and that “his failure to spend time with them …has resulted in the children at times being afraid of him. In fact, Zion…does not recognize or know Dwayne.”
Nine years ago, Dwayne Wade married his high school sweetheart, Siohvaughn Funches. He fathered two boys, Zaire and Zion. He was honored as family man of the year in 2007 by the National Father’s Day Committee. He was marketed as a superstar athlete with impeccable humanitarian, family, and personal credentials. He promotes or has promoted Converse, Gatorade, T-Mobil, Lincoln-Mercury, Staples, Pepperidge Farms, Topps, and Miami Heat ticket sales. He is handsomely compensated. Wade’s chronicle then turns ugly.
With a little light googling, the decadent personal life of this NBA superstar comes in bright and clear, photos and all. It is a tawdry, trashy picture that strips from the mind any remnant of the wholesome family man Wade sold himself to be.
A few years back, Wade committed to using his celebrity status to help at risk kids. He signed an agreement to serve as a role model and spokesman for Mavericks High Schools, a chain of chartered schools in Florida which are specifically designed for high school dropouts. But Wade failed to meet his obligations to promote the schools and was fired this year. According to Mavericks’ CEO Mark Thimmig, they were now searching for another celebrity pitchman, “one with strong family values.” As Thimmig clearly understands, kids in trouble desperately need male role models whose lives exemplify what is it is to be a man. Wade doesn’t qualify.
The sordid wreck Wade has made of his personal life by abandoning his two children, wife, and at risk kids should not be paraded around on some stage as worthy of respect. No amount of success on the court can make up for Wade’s failure as a husband, father and mentor to the young people who idolize him.
Almost 70 percent of black kids are growing up in single parent homes today, and that parent is almost always Mom. Obama knows the damage being done to the black community by men who, like Wade, can’t find it in themselves to sacrifice their own interests for that of their families. Obama’s tacit endorsement of the morally decrepit Wade for his ball playing, fame, and riches is done at the expense of the kids.
The President’s message to young black men is a great one: “Just because your own father wasn’t there for you, that’s not an excuse for you to be absent also. It’s all the more reason for you to be present.” But he turned that into a nothing more than an empty campaign slogan when he sent Dwayne Wade into inner city D.C. on Father’s Day to deliver it.