Like most parents, Dwyane Wade is learning every day from his children as they grow up.
During a recent conversation for Showtime’s All the Smoke podcast, the retired Miami Heat player opened up about how he had to focus on educating himself to be the best supporter for his 12-year-old, Zion Malachi Airamis.
“I had to look myself in the mirror when my son at the time was 3 years old. And me and my wife are having conversations about [noticing] he wasn’t on the boy vibe that Zaire was on,” he said.
In addition to having open conversations, Wade, 37, said it was also critical to look inside oneself and examine possible reactions or prejudices. “I had to look myself in the mirror and say, ‘What if your son come home and tell you he’s gay? What are you going to do? How are you going to be? How are you going to act?’ “
The athlete continued, “It ain’t about him. He knows who he is. It’s about you. Who are you? All these people that’s out there saying these things, look at yourself. Understand that you’re the one that’s got the issues. You’re the one that’s got the problem.”
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“It’s not the kids who decide, ‘Yeah, you born a certain way, you gotta be that way.’ That’s not life, man. I watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually come into,” he said.
“And for me … nothing changes in my love. Nothing changes in my responsibilities. So, all I had to do now is get smarter, educate myself more. And that’s my job,” added Wade, who is also dad to Kaavia James, 13 months, Xavier Zechariah, 6, and Zaire Blessing Dwyane, 17, as well as guardian over nephew Dahveon Morris, 18.
When it comes to courage, the proud dad praised Zion for having “way more than I have” and noted that he and wife Gabrielle Union “talk about making sure our kids understand the power in their voice.”
“We want them to be whoever they feel that they can be in this world. That’s our goal. Understand you can be whoever and you can be whatever,” Wade said.
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Wade said elsewhere in the interview that people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community are “normal” and “not different,” pointing out that “the ones that don’t understand it are the ones that are different.”
“They’re normal, they’re not even different. That’s the new normal. Everybody get used to it, man. This is the new normal,” he said. “So, if anybody different, we’re looked at as different — the ones that don’t understand it. The ones that don’t get it. The ones that get stuck in the box, they’re different. Not the people out here living their lives.”
Wade credits actress Union, 47, for being an “amazing” partner, saying, “I am the man I am from that standpoint because of being around someone who’s been so cultured.”
“She led me. She gave me some different lenses to look through,” he said. “It changed my whole perspective; I grew up with the same perspective as a lot [who] were ‘ignorant.’ And you meet people along the way that help you take those glasses off and put on some different ones — look through life through a different lens — and so that’s what my wife has been able to do.”