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In life, it is easy to do the same thing over and over again. It is easy to follow the same routine everyday. It is easy to get comfortable when life no longer brings challenges. But taking risks is what makes life enjoyable. Willing to try new things, go to new places, meet new people…this is what makes me want to jump out of bed every morning. This is what drives me. When I meet other people with that same drive, I am inspired by them, because I have always believed in surrounding myself with people that will uplift me. One person who has impressed me with the way he’s gone about his career is NBA superstar Dwyane Wade.

When I heard that Dwyane decided to leave Brand Jordan and begin a new relationship with Li-Ning, a Chinese sneaker and apparel company, I thought, that’s got to take a lot of audacity. Jordan has always, and will always, be a hot brand. They built it the right way and have maintained a level of quality that makes it the envy of millions of young people around the world. D-Wade has certainly been an important part of the success of that brand. But from what I know about Dwyane, he is not afraid to take risks.

He is now given the opportunity to control his own destiny with Li-Ning by stepping away from the norm, the safe. Although it seems like this might be a risk, Dwyane is no stranger to being first. This is the same kind of leap that Dwyane did when he led bringing LeBron and Chris Bosh to Miami, ultimately winning a championship. This is the same kind of leadership shown by Dwyane when he was one of the first prominent athletes to speak out in favor of the justice movement for Trayvon Martin. This is the same kind of empowerment shown by Dwyane by being such an incredible father, not only fighting for custody of his children, but eventually winning full custody. He definitely has a gift on the court, but knows how to handle his business off the court as well.

He is doing something with Li-Ning that very few people of his stature have done. At the prime of his career, arguably the best point guard in the game, Dwyane isn’t staying comfortable. Isn’t just putting his ride in cruise-control. He is living life to the fullest and empowering his generation in ways that we may not understand until decades later. My man is a real shining example of a young black man who has blazed his own trail. We are just trying to follow in his footsteps. Keep on, D-Wade. Keep on.

~Russell Simmons

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