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Dwyane Wade recalls moment his 12-year-old came out as transgender

The proud father and retired NBA great says his daughter is “a leader.”
Ellen DeGeneres
Dwyane Wade opened up about his 12-year-old daughter Zaya in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, and the proud dad called her "a leader."Michael Rozman / Warner Bros.
/ Source: TODAY

Dwyane Wade was a 13-time NBA All-Star and, by the time he hung up his jersey last year, he was counted among the best shooting guards to play the game.

Now he’s focused on his most important job off-court, as a dad. The father of four visited “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday and opened up about the moment one of his kids came out as transgender and how that transformed him as a parent.

“Zaya, our 12-year-old, came home — I don’t know if everyone knows, originally named Zion; Zion, born as a boy — came home and said, ‘Hey, so I want to talk to you guys. I think going forward, I’m ready to live my truth. And I want to be referenced as she and her. I’d love for you guys to call me Zaya,’” Wade recalled.

The new name was the easy part. Wade said he and wife Gabrielle Union then set out to educate themselves about the other aspects of supporting Zaya in whatever way she needed.

“That was our job, to go out and get information, to reach out to every relationship that we have. My wife reached out to everybody on the cast of 'Pose,'" Wade said, referring to the FX series about New York City's ball culture in the 1980s and '90s. "We just tried to figure out as much information as we can to make sure we give our child the best opportunity to be her best self.”

“Once Zion came home and said, ‘Call me Zaya,’ and ‘I’m ready to take on this,’ I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. It’s our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,’” the 38-year-old explained. “Right now, it’s through us, because she’s 12 years old, but eventually, it will be through her.”

DeGeneres applauded Wade’s process, telling him, “What every parent should be is what you’re being now — which is unconditionally loving your child and supporting your child in whoever they are.”

Wade told her that came naturally to him and Union.

“We are proud parents of a child in the LGBTQ+ community, and we are proud allies as well,” he said. “We take our roles and responsibility as parents very seriously. So when a 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 we can, the best feedback we can. And that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it.”

Union on Tuesday expressed how proud she is of Zaya by sharing a video on Twitter in which Zaya offers advice to those who worry they will be judged for who they are.

"Be true to yourself. What's the point of being on this Earth if you're going to try to be someone you're not? It's, like, you're not even living as yourself," Zaya says.

"Meet Zaya. She's compassionate, loving, whip smart and we are so proud of her. It’s Ok to listen to, love & respect your children exactly as they are. Love and light good people," Union captioned the video.