HARLEM — Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade says fatherhood helped him to win his second NBA championship last season.
Being a father matured him enough to be able to tame his ego so that he could play with fellow stars Lebron James and Chris Bosh, Wade told 250 people at My Image Studios in Harlem Wednesday.
"The success of winning is more important than the amount of dollars," said Wade, who was visiting Harlem to promote his new book "A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball."
In the memoir, Wade, 30, recounts being a single father to his two sons, Zaire, 10 and Zion, 5. He was awarded primary custody of his children in 2011 after a bitter battle with his ex-wife. Wade said he also raises his 10-year-old nephew.
"I love that they see me get up every morning and go to work," Wade said. "It shows that it takes hard work to be successful."
The event, part of Wade's multi-city book tour, was produced by Hue-Man Bookstore, which recently shuttered its physical location for an online presence, and the soon-to-be-opened My Image Studios (MIST), a $21 million film screening, performance space and restaurant dedicated to African and Latino culture.
Roland Laird, MIST's CEO, said Wade's book signing was the perfect pre-opening event for the space.
"(Wade) defines himself as a father first, not a basketball player, and that's what MIST is about, how we define ourselves," Laird said.
Defining himself as a father first was important for Wade, who discussed how he balances parenting with his busy schedule of travel and appearances.
"You have to be creative if you are trying to be a professional career dad," Wade told DNAinfo.com New York in an interview. "When I'm around, I give them my undivided attention and I do a lot of things with them. When I'm not around I still find ways to be incorporated into their lives. It's hard work, but something you should want to do."
Wade said he had to mold his life around that of his children and nephew.
"The biggest transition is the things I decide to do. They were my kids, but they lived with their mom so I could get up and go whenever I pleased," Wade said. "Now whenever I make a move, a decision, they come first and I've got to think about their needs first. It changes everything about the way you are used to living."
Audience members said they enjoyed the talk. Josh Weinberg, 35, an entrepreneur, has three kids from ages 1 to 12.
"He's doing the right things for his kids," Weinberg said. "I like how he talked about being around as much as possible and spending time with children. Being a father is the biggest thing you can do."
Jamari Wheeler, 11, a basketball player with his leg in a cast, said he came to the event because he likes the way Wade plays basketball, but still felt he learned about trying your hardest to excel.
Hue-Man CEO and co-owner Marva Allen said the event is the reason she thinks Hue-Man can be successful without a physical space.
"I've been selling books for 10 years and I've never seen so many young men in the audience. That is big because it shows kids will read if you give them something they want," Allen said. "I saw in the audience all my customers for the next 20 years."
Wade said this wasn't his first visit to Harlem. He visited Marcus Samuelsson's Red Rooster Restaurant last summer and said he enjoys the neighborhood.
"It's Harlem. It's not many places in the world you can go to that have a brand worldwide," he said.
On the basketball front, Wade said it's not going to be easy to win another championship.
As for the Knicks' prospects this year:
"Hopefully for the city of New York they do well," Wade said, "but not too well."