Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade is a three-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star. And, according to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, he’s also an all-star dad.
In an Ellen interview posted Tuesday, Wade told DeGeneres that his child was “Zion, born as a boy.” But one day, the 12-year-old told parents Wade and Gabrielle Union that “I’d love for you guys to call me Zaya” and to use she/her pronouns to refer to her.
“We are proud parents of a child in the LBTQ+ community, and we are proud allies, as well,” Wade told DeGeneres. “And we take our roles and our responsibilities as parents very seriously. When our child comes home with a question, when our child comes home with an issue, when our child comes home with anything, it’s our job as parents to give them the best information we can, the best feedback that we can and that doesn’t change because sexuality is now involved in it.”
Wade said he and Union, an actress and activist, immediately turned to friends and people they know in the entertainment industry to help learn how they could further support their child. He said Union reached out to the cast and crew of Pose — an acclaimed FX show centered on gay and trans black and Latinx performers in New York — for education and advice.
Wade, who was on the talk show to promote his documentary D. Wade: Life Unexpected, won the support of DeGeneres. She famously came out as a lesbian in the ’90s, and her popular self-titled sitcom was canceled in the backlash. It took years for her career to recover.
“What every parent should be is what you’re being right now, which is unconditionally loving your child and supporting your child in whoever they are,” DeGeneres told Wade.
Wade began publicly using she/her pronouns when talking about his child as recently as December, but his Tuesday appearance was the first time he mentioned her name, Zaya.
On Tuesday afternoon, Union posted a video to instagram showing Zaya riding in a golf cart with her father as the two discuss the importance of “living your true self.”
“Meet Zaya,” Union wrote in the caption. “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.”
Wade said his first reaction when Zaya made the request was to tell her she was a leader and this was an opportunity for her to be a voice for the LGBTQ community. Since she’s 12, Wade said it’s up to him and Union to be conduits for Zaya’s voice until she ages.
DeGeneres said Wade and Union are setting a good example for parents in similar situations.
“There are a lot of people that don’t know what to do,” she told him. “You’re a great example.”