Hoots and hollers rang out Wednesday in the back of the Meijer store in Rolling Meadows: D-Wade was in the building.
More than 150 fans lined up hours ahead of time to meet NBA champion Dwyane Wade and get him to autograph his new book, “A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball.”
“He’s an amazing player,” said Mark Urban of Arlington Heights. “I was at the finals when (the Miami Heat) won their first championship. I’m a Bulls fan at heart, but he’s incredibly talented.”
Katrina Dixon of Naperville and her 13-year-old daughter, Jasmine Fielder, were the first in line and had waited four hours for the chance to meet Wade.
“I’ve been a fan for 10 years,” Dixon said. “I’m a huge fan, plus he’s a committed father, and in the African-American community, that’s rare.”
Wade started his book tour last week in New York. He made stops in Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta last week before appearing at Marquette University on Tuesday and in Chicago and Rolling Meadows on Wednesday.
Despite the grinding schedule, Wade appeared to enjoy meeting the fans and seemed to take particular interest in youngsters who made their way up to the table.
With each, he smiled and shook the child’s hand, patiently posed for pictures and often asked if the youngster played basketball.
Many wore Heat jerseys or Marquette uniforms, where Wade played in college. But Wade chided those wearing DePaul T-shirts — a former conference rival — and even suggested they burn them.
“You’re not a DePaul fan, are you,” he teased one young fan.
A pair of teens from Prospect Heights, Diego Garcia and Rafal Sterkowice, passed the time in line debating whether Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose was better than Wade. But when they finally met the superstar, they were awe-struck.
“He’s from Chicago,” Garcia said. “He’s one of the greatest players ever.”
Standing in front of them was Sarah LaPorte of Mount Prospect, with her mother, Betty. La Porte plays basketball in Special Olympics and said she idolizes Wade.
‘He’s good at defense and offense,” LaPorte said. “And he beats the Bulls.”
Meijer officials said Wade was the latest sports celebrity they hosted in the store for a book signing.
“We look for family type entertainment,” said Becky McConnell, local events coordinator at Meijer. “We’re always looking to give our customers added value, and our customers are families.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.