Dwyane Wade is opening up about a challenging time in his life. In a new, wide-ranging ESPN documentary, D. Wade: Life Unexpected, the 38-year-old former NBA star reveals how he felt telling his then-girlfriend, Gabrielle Union, that he had fathered a child with someone else.
Wade, who began dating Union in 2008, fathered his 6-year-old son, Xavier, in 2013, when he and Union were on a break. At the time, Wade was already dad to Zaire, 18 and Zaya, 12, as well as guardian to his nephew, Dahveon, 18. Union and Wade, who tied the knot in 2014, have since welcomed a daughter, 1-year-old Kaavia.
"I had a child with someone else and I had to tell her. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is man up and tell Gabrielle Union that I’ve had a child with somebody else," he says in the documentary. "I couldn’t sleep. I wasn’t eating."
"When you hold something in that you know is going to come out and you have this information and you know it’s gonna f**k somebody’s life up, that you care about, that you love, if it don’t hurt you, then you’re not human," Wade continues. "... Me and Gab just went through something that you never want to go through and we still came out of it."
The documentary, which features home movies of never-before-seen moments, also delves into Wade's early days with Union, who, Wade's manager reveals, he had posters of in college. Wade notes that his kids always loved Union and even helped him pop the question in 2013. "She wasn't just marrying me, she was marrying all this baggage," he says of his decision to include his kids in the proposal.
The couple decided to try for a baby of their own, but were plagued by miscarriages. Eventually, they welcomed Kaavia through a surrogate, an experience that led Wade to retire from basketball in 2019.
"That was my push away from the game. It was time. There just came a point when I had to look in the mirror and say, 'What more do you want out of this?'" he says.
ET's Nischelle Turner spoke to Wade at the premiere of the documentary, and he opened up about his decision to candidly discuss his experiences in the film, one of which is his daughter Zaya's decision to use female pronouns.
"We're not the only family that deals with all the things we've spoken about. We're not the only family that had to deal with surrogacy, to bring our daughter into the world," Wade told ET. "We're not the only family that's had to deal with gender expression, gender identity, sexuality, with their child."
"We understand the position we've been put in, especially in our community, and even though it's not always a popular thing to speak out on issues that people are uncomfortable with or not as educated on," Wade continued. "But this is the platform that God gave me and my family, so we use it."
D. Wade: Life Unexpected debuts on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.