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Miami Heat fans erupt in support of Zaya Wade

At retirement ceremonies for Dwyane Wade, Heat fans pay heartwarming tribute to his trans daughter through their spontaneous cheers.

Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

All of us know that coming out can be a fraught and stressful process. It always helps to have allies, especially if you’re in the public eye.

On Saturday, Zaya Wade found out that she has 17,374 of them.

As part of the Miami Heat’s retirement ceremonies that evening for her father, NBA legend Dwyane Wade, the team put together a tribute video featuring testimonials from the 13-time All Star’s family. During a timeout in the second quarter of Miami’s game against Cleveland, the Heat played the video on the arena Jumbotron.

And as Heat Nation’s Bradford J. Ahn reported, when the video cut to a clip of Wade’s daughter Zaya, who recently came out as trans, this happened:

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Someone actually posted a video on Twitter that makes you feel good about humanity. No wonder Dwyane Wade expresses so much love and support for his daughter — she can work miracles.

As soon as Zaya Wade appeared on the big screen, the Heat crowd erupted in loud and prolonged cheers. They were there to honor the face of Heat basketball, but this moment sent a loud and clear message: they were also going to honor the bravery of Zaya Wade along the way.

Their applause was the Miami fanbase’s way of telling Zaya that she was welcomed and accepted as her authentic self. And as great an honor as retiring Dwyane Wade’s number was, this was an even bigger honor for him as a father, as he declared afterward that his relationship with Zaya was “real life for me.”

As the trans daughter of an NBA superstar, Zaya has been the subject of some ugly online backlash during her coming out process. In the face of that, a moment like this took on a vital importance because it showed that a literal arena full of people supported her for who she is.

In doing so, the fans gave Wade a very appropriate tribute. Because just as he did so many times on the court, they stepped up when it mattered most.

By the way, the Heat beat the Cavs, 124-105, and Miami’s mayor changed the name of the street outside the AA Arena to Dwyane Wade Boulevard.