“I got something to tell you.” I was 19 years old and in Florence, Italy, playing for a traveling team, when I got the call. It was my girlfriend.
I said, “You’re pregnant.” And she said yes. I had a child on the way.
The first thing that came to my mind was that I’m a kid myself. I don’t know what I’m going to do in life. I have no job. I’m coming off of not playing my first year because I had to get my academics right. I’m confused and think, “This can’t be happening to me. Not right now.”
And that negative moment became my favorite mistake. What got me through it was finally holding my first son when he was born. I do a lot of things and I go a lot of places. I’ve been successful in different areas, but nothing brings a smile to my face more than my oldest son, Zaire, and my second son, Zion, saying the kind word of “Dad.”
Whenever I feel like I’m getting too far away from where I need to be, I think about my sons and the legacy I have to leave for them—and it always brings me back to reality.
After we lost the championship in 2011, I was sleeping all day in a dark room, and I didn’t want to come out. They came knocking on the door. And as much as I didn’t want to see a basketball, they said, “Dad, can you come out before it gets dark and play with us?” I said I was on my way. And that was a thrill to them. They just loved the game, and it didn’t mean anything to them aside from getting the chance to play with their dad. They got me over the loss.
After I decided to separate from their mom, my ex-wife Siohvaughn, it changed the dynamic of our family. At one point it might have looked bad and as if I made a terrible decision for my sons, but in the long run they have seen that their dad is happy. And I can be a better father, and I can be a better friend now that I’m happy.
Once I got custody of the boys, everything happened so fast. I had to put them in school, and our nanny wasn’t settled in Miami yet. I was the one who had to get up in the morning, get the kids ready for school, get them out the door on time, and drop them off at school. So I started getting very cozy with the moms who were dropping their kids off. I found myself a few times sitting there talking to them after the kids had already gone in and it was like, “I am Mr. Mom.”
Winning a championship was an unbelievable professional moment, but nothing compares to what my kids bring to my life. When I walk into the house, they always run up to me and give me a hug. I know that might stop in about four or five years, but right now it’s the greatest moment that I have.
Interview By Sujay Kumar
Learns his girlfriend is pregnant with their first son.
Leads Marquette University to NCAA Final Four.
Wins NBA championship with Miami Heat, named Finals MVP.
Earns gold medal with the U.S. Olympic basketball team in Beijing.
Wins second NBA championship and releases his book, A Father First.