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Dwyane Wade reveals his reaction to daughter Zaya telling him she was transgender

In his new book, Wade calls his daughter Zaya "one of the greatest teachers of my life."
Retired NBA star Dwayne Wade with his daughter, Zaya.
Retired NBA star Dwayne Wade with his daughter, Zaya.TODAY Illustration / Rich Fury / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Dwyane Wade describes his daughter Zaya, who came out as transgender when she was 12, as "one of the greatest teachers of my life."

In a wide-ranging Instagram Live interview on Thursday with TODAY contributor Jill Martin, the retired basketball star talked about his upbringing, his NBA career and his efforts to be the best possible parent to his kids. Wade covers those pivotal moments of his life in his new photographic memoir "Dwyane," which was released this week.

When Zaya first came out as transgender, Wade said he approached the news the same way he would if he needed to fix something in his basketball game. He asked for help.

"If I don't know something in this life, especially if it comes from my children, then it's my job to go and learn these things," he said.

In addition to Zaya, who is now 14, Wade is a father to two sons, Zaire, 19, and Xavier, 8, and a daughter, Kaavia, 3. He also helped raise his nephew, Dahveon Morris, 20.

Wade said he and Zaya's stepmother, Gabrielle Union, have helped the teenager celebrate being her authentic self and have been powerful allies to the LGBTQ community, especially since they know they are speaking for her.

While he's on his book tour, Wade said he has been sending his daughter videos so she knows what he is saying about her and making sure it lines up with her beliefs. As a father, he said he tells his daughter to "educate me and let me know."

"She said, 'I thank you and if there's anything that comes up, I'll definitely let you know,'" Wade said.

While he knows he can use his voice to speak up for people who aren't treated fairly, Wade said he doesn't always want the discussion to be about how he has a transgender daughter.

"Zaya is more than that," Wade told Martin. "Zaya is a 14-year-old amazing girl, who since she stepped into her classroom on day one has never gotten lower than A."

He described his daughter as "a young kid who is trying to fit in with other kids at school, trying to get to the point where she is trying to date."

The proud dad added: "She's my daughter. She's beautiful and she has so many other great qualities that she is tapping into that everyone is starting to see."