Dwyane Wade’s next chapter includes wanting what every parents wants: The best for his child. And he’s using a public voice he developed over years in the very public spotlight of an NBA star.
For the Miami Heat legend, that means describing how he’s changed as a father, embracing the LGBTQ community, calling out ignorance and talking publicly about his thoughts as a parent to 12-year-old Zion.
“I watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually come into,” Wade said about the 12-year-old on Showtime’s All The Smoke podcast on Wednesday. “And for me... nothing changes in my love. Nothing changes in my responsibilities. So, all I had to do now is get smarter educate myself more. And that’s my job.
Wade said Zion is an inspiration, as all his children are. He’s also the father to Kaavia James, 13 months, Xavier Zechariah, 6, and Zaire, 17. He’s also the guardian of his nephew Dahveon Morris, 18.
All of this meant some heart-to-heart discussions in the family.
“Me and my wife are having conversations about, you know, us noticing that, you know, (Zion) wasn’t on the boy vibe that Zaire was on,” he said. “And I had to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘What if your son comes home and tell you he’s gay? What are you going to do? How are you going to be? How are you going to act?’ It ain’t about him. He knows who he is. It’s about you. Who are you?’ “
For years, he knew on the basketball court. This is stepping into a new world, though. He was clear who he feels is bravest in this big public step.
“First of all, you want to talk about strength and courage, my 12-year-old has way more than I have,” Wade said on the podcast. “You can learn something from your kids.”
Wade recently reacted to some backlash against the family after a Thanksgiving photo on social media showed Zion dressed with painted nails.
Wade wrote on Twitter: “I’ve seen some post-thanksgiving hate on social about my family photo. Stupidity is apart of this world we live in – so I get it. But here’s the thing – I’ve been chosen to lead my family not y’all. So we will continue to be us and support each other with pride, love & a smile!” the retired NBA star wrote.
Wade said on the podcast he feels a responsibility to speak up for “a lot of people that don’t have the same voice that I have.”
“I’m speaking for so many others in the LGBTQ community,” Wade said. “All these people that’s out there saying these things, look at yourself. Understand that you’re the one that’s got the issues. You’re the one that’s got the problem,” he continued. “It’s not the kids, it’s not the ones who decide, ‘Yeah, you born a certain way, you gotta be that way.’ That’s not life, man.”
Wade credited his wife, actor Gabrielle Union, for helping him to look at the world differently than he had.
“I am the man I am from that standpoint because of being around someone who’s been so cultured,” he said. He added: “She led me. She gave me some different lenses to look through,” he said. “It changed my whole perspective; I grew up with the same perspective as a lot (who) were ‘ignorant.’ And you meet people along the way that help you take those glasses off and put on some different ones – look through life through a different lens – and so that’s what my wife has been able to do.”