UT Alumnus Joins MTV Reality Show

Published: Nov 3, 2008
University of Tampa alumnus Larry Wade ’05 has obtained a UT degree, a successful career and a spot on MTV’s new reality show all by following his motto:

“Dream big. Think big. Work hard.”

On Nov. 6, Wade will be among 14 cast members appearing in “50 Cent: The Money and the Power,” a TV series in which contestants compete in business and sales competitions in a quest for the grand prize of $100,000, courtesy of the show’s host, rapper 50 Cent. The business-oriented show pits the contestants against each other in situations where they must rely on both business sense and street smarts to win.

Wade first learned about the show from a radio advertisement. At the encouragement of some friends, he auditioned and was later invited to attend further cast screenings. In a leap of faith, he left his job as a regional credit analyst with Tech Data, a Fortune 500 company in Clearwater, FL, in the hopes that he could win on the show and further advance his career.

“Life is not a dress rehearsal; it’s live,” Wade said. “I felt I had to go for it.”

Before he left for the show, Wade managed $20 million dollars and 4,000 customers as a regional credit analyst for Tech Data.

His success was hard-earned. The show details the troubles of Wade’s early life, which included the death of his father at age four.

Wade said his upbringing was typical for somebody “from the hood.” As a young teen, Wade says he was “on the wrong track,” before he moved to a private high school and began to turn his life around.

“I knew that I needed to change my environment drastically if I was going to better my life,” Wade said. “I told my mother that if she could find a way to pay for private school, I would get accepted and go to college.”

He credits his mother, who worked 16 hours-a-day as an LPN nurse, for pushing him through school and toward a better life.

Wade came to UT on a basketball scholarship, but was forced to put his education on hiatus after a collapsed lung prohibited him from playing. He later returned and obtained a degree in marketing in 2005.

Now, even with a promising business career, Wade continues to focus on his future. He is training to become a police officer and also has plans to earn an MBA and a J.D. to practice corporate law.

“I want to show everybody that you can use your mind to get anywhere,” Wade said. “I want to let people know not to be afraid to take calculated risks.”

While his role on “50 Cent: The Money and the Power” has already concluded, Wade offers no hints as to how he fared in the competition. The show premiers Thursday, Nov. 6, at 10 p.m. on MTV.