The Wade family is doing their part to make sure their kids are seen, heard, educated, and respected. During a recent podcast interview, Dwyane Wade talked about parenting Zaya and how backlash has opened up new conversations with his daughter.
“When it comes to my child [Zaya] and everyone says they’re willing to do this, I’m willing to die for mine,” Wade said on an episode of I Am An Athlete podcast (starts at 1:14:29) back in March. “So if you wanna say something against mine, if you wanna hurt mine, come and talk to me first. Because my child has the right and ability to be whoever they wanna be in this life and I’m gon make sure of it.”
He went on, “As the leader of this family [which he calls ‘his job’], I’m going to make sure who you are is shown and shouted out to the world.”
The clapback from critics
The Miami Heat legend was responding to the criticism he and his wife, Gabrielle Union-Wade has been receiving for how they’ve embraced their daughter’s trans identity. Wade officially introduced Zaya, formally known as Zion, to the world last March during the 6th annual Truth Awards. Celebrity critics such as rapper Lil Boosie and former B2K singer J-Boog have openly voiced their opinions on the matter. Boosie, whose real name is Torrence Hatch, says the couple is setting Zaya up for failure.
“That is a male. A 12-year-old. At 12, they don’t even know what they next meal gon’ be,” the “Set It Off” rapper said in a now-viral Feb. 2020 video. They don’t have it figured out yet. He might meet a woman, anything, at 16 and fall in love with her […] how he gon’… like, bruh, you going too far, dog.” He has since apologized for the comment.
Meanwhile, J-boog, whose real name is Jerry Afemata, called it a “demonic” display of men. He made the comment under an interview clip of Zaya and Michelle Obama on Hollywood’s Unlocked Instagram page.
“This is not cool. Very demonic. Using this child for their new agenda,” J-Boog wrote under the caption. “Take away the man, make the women the new man. And no more reproduction. This child shouldn’t be the front runner of the movement.”
In a recent, exclusive interview with PEOPLE, his wife, Gabrielle Union-Wade co-signed with her husband about the backlash.
“Our home will never be a safe space for bigots,” Union-Wade told PEOPLE in an April 28 feature. “I look at problematic language as violence and I’m never going to expose anyone I love to violence, whether that be verbal, physical, emotional, or spiritual. Jerks exist in every area of life. And we function from a place of truth in our household. But if you come at us, oh, be very prepared.”
However, it’s comments like this that Wade credits for opening the door to new conversations with his kids.
“So Boosie, all the people who got something to say, all the people who got something to say about my kid, I thank you because you’re allowing the conversation to keep going forward,” Wade said. He also added Zaya does care about “outside noise.”
He went on, “Because you know what, you might not have all the answers today, I don’t have all the answers, but we’re growing from all these conversations, so I thank everybody for even hating and starting those conversations. Because those conversations are starting other conversations.”
On May 29, Zaya celebrated her 14th birthday with a skating party. Wade shared candid moments from the party on his Instagram page.
I’m obsessed with your happiness,” he captioned it.
On Tuesday, to kick off Pride Month, Gabrielle and Zaya posed together in matching Prada.
“Zaya really took this picture with the intention to SLAY US ALL and I’m not mad,” one viewer commented.
Wade is also the father of two sons; Zaire, 19, Xavier, 7, from a previous relationship. He and Gabrielle share their daughter, Kaavia, 2, who is also the inspiration behind the couple’s New York bestselling children’s book, Shady Baby, available on Amazon.