Dwyane Wade abandoned dream of Zaya becoming an NBA player and ‘got to meet his child’

Dwyane Wade and his daughter Zaya Wade.

NBA legend Dwyane Wade has spoken about the dreams he once had of his daughter Zaya following in his footsteps and becoming a basketball player.

Before Zaya, who is now 16, came out as transgender at age 12, Wade says he couldn’t imagine a world where they wouldn’t be “hooping” together. 

But by letting Zaya make her own choices and grow into the person she wants to be, he got something better: to “meet his child.”

Zaya Wade
Zaya came out to her dad Dwyane as transgender when she was 12 years old. (Getty/ Emma McIntyre)

Wade was speaking to the Club Shay Shay podcast when he recalled the life he had planned for his daughter before she was even born, as he and fellow players LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony started building their families.

“I have Zaya. LeBron has Bryce. Melo has Kiyan. All within a 2-3 week span,” Wade said, explaining his thought process at the time. “All our kids gonna grow up hooping together. ‘Oh, we on! Boy, we gonna have 3 babies! We on!’”

But, 12 years later, Zaya came out to her family as transgender, putting Wade’s imagined future in jeopardy. 

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“See what happens when you start making plans for other people’s lives?” he joked.

As Wade has proven time and time again, though, he is a true ally and was more than happy to let that dream go if it meant his daughter would be happy.

“Then, I got to meet my child. And a lot of people like to talk about Zaya’s transition, but to me, Zaya hasn’t transitioned into anything,” he said.

“She’s but a kid, and now becoming a young adult. I’ve watched her go through life. There hasn’t been any transition for us.

“There’s been a transition for the world, but for us, I see the same kid that I’ve seen since May 29, 2007. Nothing has changed.”

Zaya is one of two children whom Wade shares with his ex-wife Siohbaughn Funches-Wade, along with his 21-year-old son Zaire.

Wade also has a son Xavier, 9, with Aja Metoyer, and a daughter Kaavia, 4, with Gabrielle Union.

Wade has spoken extensively about his support of Zaya and, alongside his wife Union, has taken strong, public stands against bigots and transphobes.

In an interview earlier this summer, the former NBA player explained that his allyship and acceptance came from unpacking his relationship with masculinity when he realised that Zaya was “afraid” to talk to him while coming out.

“I came home and I just remember my child being scared to talk to me,” he continued, “like hiding in my wife’s arm in a chair. I think I’m this dad that’s like, ‘Hey, come and tell me anything, I’m a cool dad’. And it was fear in my child’s face to tell me, so I had to check myself,” he told a Creative artists Agency Amplify event in June.

“I had to go look [at] myself in the mirror and ask: ‘Why was my child scared? Scared to tell me something about herself?’”

He shared that, after that, “I became all kinds of things because I support my child and being who she is… I think the hardest part about it is shutting out the world and the people [who] are not in [our] circle. But they have opinions and we are [a] public-facing family.”

Wade and Union have been the ultimate allies to Zaya and gone to great lengths to protect her from anti-trans rhetoric, from moving out of Florida to speaking out against “hateful” political figures like Ron DeSantis.

Thanks to their love and support, Zaya has been able to thrive as a young woman, making her runway debut at Paris Fashion Week, modelling for Tiffany & Co., and starring in a Puma campaign.

Not too shabby for a 16-year-old.