Wow, what a ride! I’ve been reflecting on my time in this great city and want to thank you for being a constant during a period of change in my life. I’ve experienced a few finals appearances, a couple of championships, several weddings (including my own), the birth of four kids, bonding with an entire community and a ton of ups and downs along the way.
It was scary leaving Toronto, a place where people really loved and supported me, and I wasn’t sure if that great feeling would follow me. When I arrived in Miami, I was just hoping for glory and mention amongst the immortals of basketball. What I got was so much more.MY FAMILY
Since coming to Miami, I’ve become a husband and then a father for the second, third, fourth, and fifth time. I still vividly remember the day my son Jackson was born. We were in the playoffs against New York and we had just landed in the Big Apple late that afternoon. I got the call and immediately made a mad dash back to the plane. I arrived at the hospital with 30 minutes to spare and got to see my baby boy come to this earth.
The next day, I made it to the game right as Spo was giving his pre-game address. The guys all saw me come in and started clapping while they gathered around and hugged me. Spo had just told them he wasn’t sure if I’d make it and I did. It felt like a scene out of a movie. The guys in that locker room always made me feel special. We helped each other through life because we were more than just teammates. We later won our first championship and I was able to bring my baby boy out on the court with me to celebrate. That was one of the happiest days of my life. Accomplishing personal and professional dreams that I never thought would be possible, all in the same summer—it was amazing.
For my daughter Dylan’s birth, I was actually in town so I was able to stay close and not panic. We later won another championship against one of the greatest teams of all time, and to get there, I can say that I took part in one of the most competitive finals to ever take place. Man, luck must’ve been on my side. But I also have to think that my family helped me get there too.
My wife and kids have been so strong for me in moments when I was not. My wife has picked me up off the ground more times than you know and I am so thankful to have such a great support system. She’s a lot like you, Miami—nice and mellow with that special touch of Latin passion and fire. Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve a woman who loves me unconditionally and has my back through everything.
This community has welcomed me with open arms from day one. The city’s rich tradition and culture is unique and you can feel it from the moment you land in Miami. The fans have always greeted my family with positivity, just trying to put smiles on the kids’ faces. That’s the thing I love about the community. You all have shown appreciation every time we were out for events or just walking through the streets. I’ve met people who have had lifetime season tickets, and I can see the pride in their eyes when they tell me. I’ve also picked up a great deal of Spanish and now have a tool for life to help me communicate with more people around the world. Learning how to order a cafe con leche o ropa vieja on Calle Ocho has become natural to me. That’s amazing!
Thanks for coming to the games and cheering us on to win. Making you proud was a priority every time we stepped out on the court. It felt so good to share that championship feeling with you. While we grabbed the trophy, you grabbed your pots and pans and celebrated like no one else in the world can. Warm home games are a luxury in the league. Being able to stay with you and actually win a couple games made everything that much better.
THE UPS and DOWNS
Man, losing in the finals is one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in my life. It was definitely a huge lesson in humility. Losing to the team from my hometown and then experiencing a postponed season the next year was very difficult. I was so embarrassed, I was reluctant to go out in public. It was so hard to face everyone.
Coming out of that time, I learned about perseverance. You never really know its true meaning until you have to go—and grow—through tough times. But you stayed positive, Miami. You stayed with us and supported us and reinforced that belief that we could do it—and we did! That’s what makes those moments so special. I saw my teammates, my friends and brothers, shine brightest in the darkest moments of their lives. It wasn’t about coming through with a great play or winning a crucial game on the road. It was the fact that these guys did it with so much on the line. We beat the odds so many times.
And then came not being able to play the game I love, the game that I’ve spent a lifetime working to master and evolve with and find success in. I was very upset for a long time. They say you just have to play the cards that you’re dealt and that’s another lesson I truly understand now. Learning that information about my health during All-Star Weekend was extremely tough, especially during a time of celebrating the league and its great players and fulfilling dreams. While I’ll never take those things for granted, I learned not to take other things for granted—like being in the hospital.
I was in there for six days and had surgery on my left lung. I sat in a room that whole time with tubes sticking out of my ribs and started to pity myself. But then I realized there are so many people dealing with things much worse, and once again, I was humbled. To all those who think it’s not going to get better and are feeling those walls close in on you, keep fighting! Envision yourself walking out of that place on your own two feet and work every day to achieve that goal. My short six-day hospital stint felt like a lifetime, so I can’t begin to imagine the strength of those who are there for much longer.
That Toronto weekend was so special to me, not only because I was back where I’d played and lived, but also because I was going to do things I had never done before, like participate in the Three-Point Contest. It felt like my reintroduction to basketball as a different player, being able to evolve into something else and still be successful. I have yet to fulfill that part but that’s to be continued.
I’ve learned how to dream again. I’ve learned how to appreciate the game of basketball and all the things I’ve experienced even more now. People will always see the trophies and banners and think that’s the whole story. But it’s only a piece, only a moment in time. I’ve learned that no matter what happens on the court, the game continues. Even when things changed for me and I couldn’t play, people still supported me and let me know what basketball in Miami meant for them. I truly cherish those encounters. Those good-luck chants or someone simply caring enough to ask about my health—they might seem like small gestures but they are some of my fondest memories.
We went through life together, Miami. You showed me how to stay strong and push through in the toughest moments. And although I didn’t like it at the time, it made all the difference in the long run. It made me a better man, the person I am today. Thank you.
Thank you to everyone—here in Miami, across the nation and around the world—who has been a part of #TeamBosh. I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey, wherever that leads me.