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Zaire Wade Carving His Own Path In Salt Lake City | Utah Jazz

It’s never easy to have to live up to a name.

Zaire Wade knows that better than most.

Growing up in the shadow of his father, Dwyane Wade, Zaire admits to struggling to establish his own identity in the basketball world. It’s difficult when your father ranks as one of the best shooting guards to play the game and is widely viewed as a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. 

But he’s now forging his own path after being drafted by the Salt Lake City Stars with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2021 NBA G League draft. In a video that’s been widely shared on social media, Zaire was able to celebrate the moment with his dad and family.

“It was such a surreal feeling because of all the hard work that I put in, especially over the past few months,” Zaire said of being drafted and his reaction. “Just for me and my family to share that moment together. … Just to have the whole family there, it was a great feeling. That was just a natural reaction.”

Much like his dad, Zaire is no stranger to playing with stars. 

His Sierra Canyon High School team was littered with big names and future pros. From big-time recruits Bronny James (LeBron James’ son) and Amari Bailey (top prospect in 2022 class) to current NBA players Ziaire Williams and Brandon Boston Jr., Zaire is used to playing with high-end talent.

Rated a three-star combo guard out of high school, Zaire chose the nontraditional route and elected to take a postgraduate year at Brewster Academy rather than play college basketball in 2020-21. Ironically, current Jazz star Donovan Mitchell also attended Brewster before moving on to Louisville. 

The year at Brewster prepared him to make the jump to the G League, a move he believes was meant to happen all along. 

Many people believe that since he’s Dwyane’s son, he was gifted the opportunity to the Stars, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This past summer was the busiest of his life as he set out to prove he belongs in the G League. Zaire believes he’s ready for the next level after multiple workouts a day, including on-court and off-court work.

“Since I left Brewster Academy, I’ve had a schedule where I was working 3-to-4 times a day, minimum, with Chris Johnson out in LA,” Zaire said. “We would wake up about 6, go to the gym, and workout for an hour and a half. I would lift right after and then get back to it, play five-on-five with NBA guys, just a whole bunch of guys who would help me get better this summer. Then come back later on and do another workout to finish, and then go to recovery.”

There could have been a lot of commotion with Zaire joining the Stars considering his dad is a part-owner of the Jazz, but he says the coaches and players have welcomed him in. He’s out there just like everyone else, trying to prove he belongs in the league and working to be better than he was the day before.

“The first couple days have been good. .. .The whole team has been very welcoming, Coach has been great,” Zaire said. “As far as me personally, I’ve just been making sure that I’m playing hard, just trying to be precise. The whole coaching staff has been good at helping me implement that into my game.”

The social media reaction to Zaire being drafted by the Stars wasn’t exactly ideal, but it’s something he doesn’t think about. Many people believe that he was only taken because of who his dad is, not because of his talent – and it’s something that Zaire tunes out because he knows the truth.

“A lot of people see me, and I guess they would think my whole life that everything has been good, but it hasn’t,” Zaire said. “Especially the last few years, been going through some stuff on and off the court. Just mentally to be like ‘I won’ (after being drafted), and now it’s back to work, but to feel like I won just for a second, it was good.”

Regardless of what happens with the G League and his future in basketball, Zaire knows that he’s putting in the work needed to be successful. It’s a lesson his dad taught him that whatever he chooses to start, he’s going to finish. There’s no quitting in the Wade family.

He fully understands the opportunities that have come his way because of his dad and his stepmom, actress Gabrielle Union. He acknowledges that it’s put him in a unique position to potentially succeed. 

But rather than just accept those opportunities, Zaire has taken it further by working harder than others to prove that he will make the most of them. He’s proven brave enough to take on the challenge of living up to the names of his parents, all while trying to forge his own path and create his own legacy.

“Even if opportunity comes, you could run from it or go full head-on towards it,” Zaire said. “I told my dad, whenever in life I get a chance to show myself or prove myself in general, I’m never going to run from it. If I fail, I want to fail going forward. … I don’t ever want to fail going backward in life. I think everybody should try to take steps forward, try to elevate.”

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