While filming his upcoming documentary, D.Wade: Life Unexpected, former NBA star Dwyane Wade had one very important decision to make: if and how to include his daughter’s decision to come out as transgender in the film.

Every parent knows that a lot of raising kids is just winging it and hoping you get it right. For Wade, a straight cisgender male, his daughter sitting him down to explain her gender identity was uncharted territory. But, it was his baby talking and, even though he couldn’t necessarily relate, he listened.

Wade told Good Morning America,

“It was a process for us to sit down with our daughter and find out who she is and what she likes and not put something on her because, as parents, we put our hopes and we put our fears on our kids. With Zaya, we decided to listen to her and she’s leading us on this journey.”

dwyane wade zaya daughter transgender
Dwyane with daughter Zaya (middle) and their family

But just because Wade, his wife Gabrielle Union, and Zaya’s siblings are full of love, support, and acceptance, doesn’t mean that everyone else is. So, Wade had to decide whether or not to subject his daughter to the public’s opinion by including her story in the documentary.

He said,

“I knew if I put [Zaya’s story] in the doc at all it would be a big conversation. This is no game to us. We’re about protecting her heart and about protecting her joy.”

dwyane wade daughter zaya
Gabrielle Union, Dwyane, and Zaya

Ultimately, Wade and his family made the choice to include Zaya’s story in the documentary. This decision was made partially to help normalize the topic, partially to offer a sense of comradery to other parents, but primarily to celebrate Zaya and who she is.

“Myself and my family, we love the fact that she doesn’t have to hide who she is. She is our leader… As parents, it’s our job to sit back and figure out and find the most information that we can. We’ve researched as many things as we can to try to help not only our family but other people in this journey and along the way because one thing we do know as a family we’ve been through so many things that other families go through and they say ‘thank you guys for speaking out on it, thank you for being a face and a voice because we can’t.'”

dwyane wade transgender queer daughter zaya zion

Wade admits that he’s come a long way over the years, from “a person in the locker room that has been a part of the conversation that has said the wrong phrases and the wrong words” to the advocate he is now. While time and maturity certainly play a role in this transformation, his daughter’s happiness was also a major driving force.

“Inside our home, we see the smile on my daughter’s face, we see the confidence that she’s able to walk around and be herself and that’s when you know you’re doing [it] right.”

Dwyane Wade’s documentary, D.Wade: Life Unexpected will air on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 9 pm EST on ESPN.

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