The 37-year-old former NBA pro stopped by the All the Smoke podcast this week, and opened up about raising his 12-year-old son, Zion, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community.
"If you want to talk about strength and courage, my 12-year-old has way more than I have. You can learn something from your kids," said Wade, who is married to Gabrielle Union and is also dad to Kaavia, 1, Xavier, 6, and Zaire, 17, as well as guardian to his 18-year-old nephew, Dahveon.
From the time Zion was 3-years-old, Wade said, he and Union noticed that he "wasn't on the boy vibe that Zaire was on."
"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? It ain’t about him. He knows who he is. It’s about you. Who are you?'" Wade recalled. "... I watched my son, from day one, become into who she now eventually come into. And for me it's all about nothing changes with my love. Nothing changes in my responsibilities. So, the only thing I had to do now is get smarter educate myself more. And that’s my job."
"When I respond to things socially, I'm not responding to it because you hurt my feelings. I'm not responding because I even care enough of what you're saying... I'm responding because I understand my platform," he said. "I'm responding because I'm speaking for a lot of people who don't have the same voice that I have as a father. I'm even speaking for my 12-year-old right now because I haven't allowed him to sit in-front of a microphone yet. But I'm speaking for so many others in the LGBTQ+ community. For me, man, like I said, it's just my version of support."
"... All these people that’s out there saying these things, look at yourself. Understand that you the one that got the issues. You’re the one that got the problem. It’s not the kids," Wade continued. "... Everybody get used to it, man. This is the new normal. 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 have stuck in a box, you're different. Not the people out here living their lives, man."
Despite the public commentary on his family, Wade makes it a point to encourage his children to be whoever they want to be.
"In our household, man, that's all we talk about. We talk about making sure our kids be seen by each of us... We 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," he said. "... That's how I go, 'Understand you can be whoever. You can be whatever... While you're trying to go down that process, this is what's going to come at you: There is gonna be a lot of negativity, there's gonna be a lot of hate.'"
"... Ultimately you want your kids to be free and living their lives. And I don’t care what you want to do from this standpoint. If you want to play a sport, then play a sport. You don’t have to be like me. Play your sport and be yourself," he added. "Whatever you want to do, it’s my job to support you and make sure that you have all the tools you need to be as happy as you can be in this world while you’re doing it. While you’re growing into the person you are, that you’re going to grow into."
Throughout the conversation, Wade also praised his wife for helping him to see things from a different, and more accepting, point of view.
"My wife has been amazing, by the way. I can say I am the man I am from that standpoint because being around someone who's been so cultured. She came in [and] she gave me some different lenses to look through life. It changed my whole perspective," he said. "I grew up with the same perspective as a lot of these people out here that's a little ignorant. I grew up with a similar perspective."
"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," Wade continued. "That's what my wife has been able to do. So, it's been cool, man."