Dwayne Wade got candid on Shannon Sharpe’s podcast, Club Shay Shay, about accepting daughter Zaya Wade’s transition and relinquishing his expectations of her following his footsteps to become a baller.
Sharpe’s sitdown with Wade premiered on YouTube on June 12, 2023. The sports commentator complimented the former Miami Heat basketball player on his skills as a baller, adding that his “greatest accomplishment” was embracing Zaya’s desire to transition.
Wade stated that he knew it wasn’t his life journey and couldn’t make it about himself. However, he did imagine Zaya becoming a basketball like her father, especially since he and Wade’s ex-wife, Siohvaugn Funches, had Zaya around the same time teammate LeBron and Savannah James welcomed son Bryce James and Carmelo Anthony welcomed Kiyan Carmelo Anthony.
“All our kids will grow up hooping together,” Wade thought. “Oh, we on! Boy, we gon’ have three, baby…You couldn’t tell me we weren’t going to be on the circuit right now.”
The 41-year-old retired baller’s idea of Zaya’s identity changed once he noticed her ways didn’t match his expectations of what a boy should do.
One of the signs for him was when Zaya expressed disinterest in sports like baseball or basketball.
“Hey, let’s play this. I have a child at home that’s like, ‘I don’t want that. Dad, I want to take dance lessons,'” Wade recalled, adding Zaya used to place shirts over her head to pretend she had long hair.
“When I come home, she got the shirt wrapped around her head like it’s long hair,” he said. “I’m watching [her] wear certain things that’s different than what I would buy for my son.”
Instead of the 41-year-old stopping his child, he and Gabrielle Union sat Zaya down at three years old to tell her they understood she wanted to wear girl clothes and didn’t mind her doing it in the house but told her the outside world wasn’t ready.
“I don’t even know if we were ready for that,” Wade admitted. “And, so, we slowly just let her be who she wanted to be in our home.
Wade didn’t grow up around the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, but instead of following those footsteps, he allowed Zaya to take the time to grow into who she is to become, a luxury he knows many Black families don’t have.
Wade and Zaya’s father-daughter relationship is different than most. They’re open and honest with each other. Wade, aware of the high suicide rates among transgender kids, prioritizes his child’s safety and emphasizes he’s going to accept her life’s journey.