Dwyane Wade, Family Support 12-Year-Old Zaya Wade’s Gender Identity, Pronoun Change

Just because Dwyane Wade is retired from the NBA doesn’t mean he isn’t still in the running for awards. With his public support of 12-year-old Zaya Wade, who recently decided to change her name and start using she/her pronouns, the Miami Heat legend and three-time champion might soon be in the running for “Father of the Year.”

This week, Dwyane went on The Ellen Show to talk with Ellen DeGeneres about how his family has embraced Zaya—who was born male as Zion Wade—along her journey of gender identity. As Dwyane recounted, his child came home one day asking to be called with Zaya, and expressed an understanding of what she would be taking on for herself going forward.

“I looked at her and said, ‘You are a leader. You are a leader, and it’s our opportunity to allow you to be a voice,’” Dwyane shared. “Right now, it’s through us because she’s 12 years old, but eventually, it will be through her.”

This past December, the 38-year-old Chicago native spoke candidly on Showtime’s All The Smoke podcast with former NBA veterans Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson about his own path toward becoming an ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

"As we say in the hood, it's ignant," Dwyane said. "I grew up with the same perspective as a lot of these people out here that's a little ignant. I had to look myself in the mirror and say, 'What if your son comes home and tells 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?'"

Dwyane’s wife, Gabrielle Union-Wade, has also been a staunch supporter of Zaya’s. The 47-year-old actress, activist and author reached out to the cast of FX’s Pose—which set the record for a scripted series employing the largest number of transgender actors in regular roles—to seek guidance for her and her husband on issues of gender identity. She also tweeted out a video of Zaya expressing her thoughts about personal truth while driving a golf cart with her father.

"What’s the point of being on this earth if you're gonna try to be someone you're not?" Zaya said. "It's like you’re not even living as yourself, which is the dumbest concept to me. It’s just, like, be true and don't really care what the 'stereotypical' way of being you is."

Moreover, Zaya’s older brother, 18-year-old Zaire Wade, took to Instagram to show his support for his sibling.

“I don’t care what they think Z, you are my best friend and I love you kid,” Zaire wrote, “and if it means anything, just know there’s no love lost on this side.”

Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.