Wade accepted the President's Award with wife Gabrielle Union and spoke of his daughter's courage in his acceptance speech.
Dwyane Wade is a proud father to Zaya Wade. The retired NBA star, who accepted the President's Award with his wife Gabrielle Union at the 2023 NAACP Image Awards, honored his 15-year-old daughter as someone who has given him a new perspective on life, per E! News. "Zaya, as your father all I've wanted to do was get it right," the 41-year-old said on stage on February 25, as seen in a clip shared to his Instagram.
"Thank you for showing me that there's more than just one way to communicate effectivity. You've taught me that communication with my mouth isn't enough. I have to also communicate with my two ears and my two eyes," he added.
He also noted that Zaya has been an example of courage for the world. Dwyane credited his daughter for changing him in a positive way, adding, "Zaya, you've made me a better human just simply by being who you were born to be—Our baby girl, Zaya Wade."
The 15-year-old, who came out as transgender in 2020, has been open about facing haters online. Reflecting on how she has navigated negativity, Dwyane shared in his speech that Zaya has handled her journey in a way that is commendable.
"I've sat back and watched how graciously you've taken on the public scrutiny and even though it's not easy, I've watched you walk out of that house every morning as yourself," he said. "I admire how you handle the ignorance in our world."
Dwyane—who, in addition to sharing Zaya and son Zaire, 21, with his ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches, also shares son Xavier, 9, with Aja Metoyer and daughter Kaavia, 4, with Gabrielle—then reflected on being her parent, and what he strives to do with that title.
"As your father, my job isn't to create a version of myself or direct your future," he continued. "My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, and your dreams. I am proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father," he elaborated.
The athlete's touching words came after Zaya was granted a legal gender and name change, per documents obtained by E! News. Prior to this official move, Dwyane petitioned the court on Zaya's behalf in August 2022. In November of that year, Zaya's mother Siohvaughn filed an objection asking the judge to deny Dwyane's petition. As seen in the documents obtained by E! News, Siohvaughn asked that Zaya decide on legally changing her name and gender "at the age of majority."
In the same month, Dwyane filed a response to Siohvaughn, where he asserted the official change further. "This petition is about empowering Zaya to live her truth," the court documents obtained by E! News in November stated. "This petition is about allowing Zaya to take on the milestones of being a young adult with confidence and joy, and to ensure that those moments are not clouded by the self-doubt that comes from checking a box or signing a name that does not reflect her identity," it added.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Amy Sussman