were going up to Granny's place on the third floor, his aunt's on the second or
the apartment where Mom was sinking fast. Jolinda and Dwyane's father, Dwyane
Sr., had split up soon after the boy was born, and though his dad would show on
weekends and birthdays, Momma's new man was their fact of life. The man,
Jolinda says, was "like from hell itself"; Dwyane saw her cowed and
fearful and vowed to get him back someday. "I couldn't have him growing up
around this, no," Jolinda says. "But I was caught. I was
In the years they
had been together, Dwyane Sr. says, he and Jolinda "both had problems. Back
in the '70s a lot of people were doing drugs, different kinds of drugs and
smoking weed and stuff. We were too." But Jolinda spun out of control once
she had Dwyane and left his dad; their two kids, Tragil and Dwyane Jr., knew
enough to leave her alone when the bedroom door was closed and the music
blared. When their mother wasn't out late drinking, the two kids would rustle
up close to Jolinda to watch TV, Tragil staring at The Cosby Show and thinking,
I want that. want to be in that life; Jolinda closing her eyes and hearing the
voices of her children, sounding so far away. On other days Dwyane would have
special events at school--Momma, I'm having my first school picture
tomorrow!--but Jolinda was usually sleeping it off. Tragil got him dressed nice
for that one.
was heroin, cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes," Jolinda says. "Four of
them beating down on me."
In Englewood, as
in every mean pocket of urban America, this kind of story usually doesn't end
well. Gangs and drug dealers roamed the blocks; gunshots popped day and night;
Tragil saw one of Dwyane's kindergarten classmates running bags of white
powder. Dwyane Sr. had by then moved across town into an apartment with his
fianc�e, Bessie McDaniel, and her three boys. He offered to take Dwyane, so one
Friday in 1988 Tragil packed a weekend's worth of clothes and escorted her
brother on a 15-minute bus ride, dropped him off, told him to call if anyone
mistreated him and promised to pick him up. But she didn't. Jolinda can't
remember a thing about the day her only son left home forever. For Dwyane it
now stands as the last in a line of noble acts his sister performed to save
him, but as a boy he called Tragil to say, "You lied to me. You said you'd
come back and you didn't."
"At the time
you feel relief that he's going to be in good hands," Tragil says.
"Protected with Daddy. Later on it hit me that's my best friend. I missed
year Dwyane Sr. moved his son and the McDaniel clan to the somewhat safer
environs of Robbins, in Chicago's south suburbs. Soon Tragil left her mother,
then another daughter, Keisha, bolted, leaving only the oldest, Deanna, behind.
"When I lost my kids? It seemed I lost the willingness to live,"
Jolinda says. "I just started surviving because I didn't see a way of
getting them back." Three years later, in September 1992, she was arrested
for the first time and pleaded guilty to possession of crack cocaine with the
intent to sell. Dwyane Sr. took his 10-year-old son to see Jolinda while she
was incarcerated at the Cook County jail. "I never went back again,"
Wade says. "I didn't want to see my mother locked up. I just couldn't."
The following February she was sentenced to 14 months' probation.
But one week
after her sentencing, Jolinda was arrested again and later convicted for trying
to sell crack to an undercover police officer. "I'm trying to sell drugs to
make ends meet to get money to do this and that; then it just came to the point
I just sold drugs so I could keep my sick off," she says.
Jolinda spent 16
months in prison, then, on Oct. 29, 1995, was arrested for selling crack.
Sentenced to four years in a state penitentiary, she served seven months before
failing to report for a work-release program. In March 1997 a warrant was
issued. "They called it an escape," she says. "I didn't go back: My
addiction called me; I answered the call ... and there you go."
One evening last
month Wade was sitting in Miami's American Airlines Arena after wrapping a
photo shoot: D-Wade, Superstar, doing layups in a fine gray suit. The place was
all but empty, just a half-dozen people checking Blackberries. "Seeing
it," he said. "Seeing my mother on drugs was the darkest for me. People
on drugs don't have the same comprehension; you talk to them, and they fall
asleep. That hurts. And you know it."
talking about his father, the discipline he instilled, when Tragil walked over.
For a while Dwyane had sent her Mother's Day cards. Then last spring Tragil,
29, moved to the Miami area to help manage her brother's life; who better to do
that? She bent down and kissed Dwyane four times on the cheek and neck. Dwyane
Sr. was coming to town. "Call me about Daddy," she said, and walked