After 16 years in the NBA, Dwyane Wade is focused these days on his off-the-court role as the father of a transgender child.
Appearing on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday, Wade recalled the moment when his 12-year-old child came out to him as trans and said she wanted to be called Zaya and addressed by the pronouns “she” and “her.” Describing himself and wife Gabrielle Union as “proud allies,” he said the discussion left him determined to give Zaya “the best opportunity to be her best self.”
“We take our roles and our responsibility as parents very seriously,” said Wade, who is also dad to Zaire Blessing Dwyane, 18, Xavier Zechariah, 6, and Kaavia James, 15 months. “When our child comes home with a question, when a child comes home with an issue, when a child comes home with anything, it’s our job as parents to listen to that, to give them the best information that we can, to give them the best feedback that we can.”
Watch the full interview below:
Union and Wade faced criticism after the couple posted photos of Zaya attending an LGBTQ Pride parade in Miami last summer. Wade, however, remained unperturbed by the online backlash.
“I think as a family, we should support each other,” he told Variety at the time. “My job as a father is to facilitate their lives and to support them and be behind them in whatever they want to do.”
Wade ― who is the subject of a new ESPN documentary, “D. Wade: Life Unexpected” ― doubled down on that stance in his “Ellen” chat on Tuesday. Thus far, he said, he and Union have been actively “reaching out” to cast members of the FX series “Pose” and others in an effort to “figure out as much information as we can to make sure that we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”
“Once Zaya came home and said, ‘I want you to call me Zaya and I’m ready to take on this,’ I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. And this is our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,’” the proud father recalled. “Right now it’s through us, because she’s 12 years old, but eventually it will be through her.”
“He was the first superstar that really embraced different generations, really embraced us,” Wade said. “He really put his arms around us as competitors, and the rest of the world.”