Cleveland Cavaliers star J.R. Smith is opening up about his miracle baby.
In an emotional sit-down with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, the 31-year-old NBA player and his wife, Jewel "Shirley" Harris, discuss their daughter's battle after being born five months premature.
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The couple welcomed Dakota in January, and she weighed less than one pound. Following her birth, Harris recalls telling doctors to "do what you got to do to save her life."
"I could literally hold her in one hand," Smith says of how small Dakota was at the time.
Throughout the ordeal, Harris turned to her husband for support. "It was times that I know he wanted to break down but he didn't and that allowed me to draw strength from him," she says.
For Smith, the hardest part of watching his daughter fight for her life, was not having control over the outcome.
"Most of my life I've been able to be in control of everything. Something like that, you have no control and it's your child and you'd obviously do anything for her," he explains while getting emotional. "It hurt."
Dakota was released from the hospital in May, weighing 7 lbs. 5 1/2 oz.
Now that she’s home with the family, Smith joked that his baby girl has already proven that she's tough enough for professional basketball.
"All I keep thinking about when I see her is they said she wasn't going make it," he says. "Her spirit, the fight, the feistiness, that she has, I just hope she doesn’t play basketball. If she gets my attitude, the WNBA is going to be in trouble."
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Smith isn't the only celebrity bringing awareness to the issue of premature births. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 star Chris Pratt and wife Anna Faris (whose son Jack was born nine weeks premature) have become vocal supporters of the organization March of Dimes and World Prematurity Day.
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