Fans said it when he was traded to his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls, in 2016, and they said it again when he returned to play for the Miami Heat for his final season in 2018, but now Dwyane Wade is really going home. After welcoming his first child with wife Gabrielle Union via surrogate on Nov. 7, the basketball player has officially taken paternity leave to be with Gabrielle and their baby girl, Kaavia James Union Wade. He has three sons from previous relationships, but because his bundle of joy is in such a precious state right now, Dwyane doesn’t want to leave her side.
“For me, once I leave and go back to the season, not really being able to [have her] with me everywhere I go, this time right now, this bonding moment with my daughter, is the most important thing in my life at this time,” he told the Associated Press on Sunday. “And then I’ll go from there – see how she’s doing and make a decision based on that.”
“The world expects moms to take time off from work. They never expect dads to be the ones who take time away.”
It’s something we don’t talk about often – professional athletes taking paternity leave – but Dwyane’s decision to take time off should come as no surprise given the NBA’s rigorous travel schedule and, of course, his unwavering dedication to his family (I mean, his Twitter bio literally says, “I’m a father First and everything else after that . . .”). According to the AP, there is no official paternity leave policy in the NBA (the MLB is the only major professional league in the US that has a parental leave policy, “one that allows players to take up to three days”), “so players and teams work out such situations on their own.” But the AP reports that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is “totally fine with it” and wants Dwyane taking however long he needs.
It’s his 16th and final season in the league, and the three-time NBA champion returned to play for Miami for “one last dance,” but no matter the team, no matter the season, no matter the time, family is simply his priority. Back when he announced that this would be his final season in September, he touched upon his desire to take some time off in regard to surrogacy and the difficulty he and Gabrielle had conceiving naturally.
“The world expects moms to take time off from work,” he said. “They never expect dads to be the ones who take time away. Because of the route we took to this, it’s important that not only my wife but also me take this time. I was going to take the whole year. I was going to retire this Summer, but I decided to just take a little time in between instead.”
Basketball is his career, but for Dwyane, family is his life. Read on to see photos of Dwyane with his newborn daughter, Kaavia, and with his family.