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Dwyane Wade’s first relationship dates back to when he was just 9 years old.
That was when he first met Siohvaughn Funches-Wade, the woman who would eventually become his high school girlfriend and first wife. Wade and Funches-Wade wed in 2002 and had two children together, Zaire and Zaya. They divorced in 2007 after five years of marriage and Wade eventually received full custody of their kids.
Though the legal proceedings surrounding their split concluded in 2013, the former couple faced off in court once again in 2022 — this time with regard to their transgender daughter, Zaya.
Wade, who has been married to Gabrielle Union since 2014, filed a petition in August 2022 for Zaya to legally change her name and gender. Two months later, in November, Funches-Wade submitted court documents objecting to the change, alleging that the former NBA star is “positioned to profit” from the name and gender change and expressing concerns that he “may be pressuring” Zaya for financial gain.
The exes have continued the argument on social media: Wade called Funches-Wade an “absent parent,” while Funches-Wade claimed she was acting within her “parental right and power.”
Wade filed a second petition to legally change Zaya’s name on Nov. 28, 2022. According to documents obtained by PEOPLE, Wade called Funches-Wade’s objection to the initial petition “libelous” and “nonsensical.”
“While it certainly would have been preferable for Zaya’s mother to be supportive of this important part of Zaya’s journey, Zaya should not be forced to put her life on hold while she waits for Siohvaughn to acknowledge and accept her truth,” read the documents.
On Feb. 24, 2023, Zaya was granted an official name change and assignment of gender, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
So who is Dwyane Wade’s ex-wife? Here’s everything to know about Siohvaughn Funches-Wade.
She and Wade were high school sweethearts
Funches-Wade originally met Wade when she was in fifth grade, and the two began dating when they both attended Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. At one point during Wade’s junior year of high school, Wade even moved in with Funches-Wade and her mother, according to the Washington Post.
Wade’s reasoning for moving in with Funches-Wade was two-fold, the outlet reported. Wade’s father, who he described as “militant,” was having marital problems at the time with Wade’s stepmother and the basketball star found the fighting distracting. And Funches-Wade, who was a year ahead of Wade in school, left for college before him — and he could speak to her on the phone more often at her mother’s house.
“It was at that time a very meaningful relationship, a very loving one,” Funches-Wade later told the Daily Mail about their teenage romance.
She has two children with Wade
Funches-Wade gave birth to their first child — a son named Zaire — on Feb. 4, 2002. Both Wade and Funches-Wade were just 20 years old at the time; Wade was a sophomore at Marquette University.
“Proudest moment of my life,” Wade said about Zaire’s birth in the documentary D. Wade: Life Unexpected. “I was excited but I was also nervous as hell at the same time, because I’m a kid and I’m trying to find my way in this world and now I’m bringing a kid into this world.”
Wade also opened up to PEOPLE about becoming a parent at a young age. “You’re afraid because you don’t want to mess up; you don’t want anything to happen to them,” he shared. “But I think, ultimately, we all have it inside of us to help lead someone, whether that’s your kids, godson or goddaughter, niece or nephew, coworker — we all have it in us to lead. It’s no different when you have a kid.”
Five years later, the couple welcomed their second child, Zaya, on May 29, 2007. In February 2020, Zaya came out as transgender. Wade has been an outspoken ally for his daughter, speaking frequently about loving and supporting all of his children as they are. “We want them to know there’s always unconditional love, that there will always be support,” he told PEOPLE. “We’ve got you, no matter what. And we see you … I see you how you see you.”
She married Wade in 2002
The former pair were married in the summer of 2002, a few months after the birth of their first child, Zaire. At the time, Wade was still attending college, playing basketball for Marquette University.
“That summer Siohvaughn and I got married,” Wade said in the documentary D. Wade: Life Unexpected. “No matter what, my wife is always going to be at home and with pressure and with stress and all that’s going on with the basketball season, I can always go home with my family and my son and just play with them. Kids make you feel that much better.”
She and Wade split in 2007
Wade filed for divorce from Funches-Wade shortly after the birth of their second child, Zaya, in 2007. “Our relationship was rocky,” Wade said in Life Unexpected. “We had been together since we were 16 years old, so we had a lot of differences and we didn’t know how to handle those.”
Their divorce was lengthy and contentious — and ultimately took six years to finalize. Wade was granted the divorce in June 2010, was awarded sole “care, custody and control” of his two children in March 2011 and settled the financial portion of the divorce in July 2013, ESPN reported. “It was uncharted waters, but it was all about just being in my kids’ lives,” Wade said about the decision to seek full custody.
Throughout the six years of legal proceedings, Funches-Wade went through more than a dozen attorneys — and filed a lawsuit against one for legal malpractice, according to the Chicago Tribune. She also hit Wade with lawsuits during their divorce, claiming he failed to pay her income from his endorsement contracts and that his relationship with Union was causing her and her children “emotional distress”, per ESPN.
In June 2012, she was arrested and charged with attempted child abduction after not returning her two children to Wade following visitation (the charges were later dropped). And following the financial settlement in 2013, Funches-Wade camped out in front of Chicago’s Daley Plaza with a sign that read “NBA Miami Heat Star Mother of His Children on the Streets.”
Wade’s attorney, James B. Pritikin, said at the time, “Ms. Funches has made a mockery of homelessness which is a serious and personal issue for Mr. Wade as his mother was homeless for a period of time when he was a child.”
She is the author of two books
Funches-Wade has penned two books: The True Story for God’s Glory: The Life of Siohvaughn L. Funches-Wade, published in 2016, and You Gotta Let God Finish!, published in 2018.
Her first book was an autobiography, detailing her relationship and divorce from Wade. However, due to the non-disparagement clause in her divorce settlement, the book never references Wade by name — instead only refers to him as her husband or father of her children.
In the autobiography, Funches-Wade maintained claims that Wade was physically abusive to her during their relationship (allegations he denied in divorce court) and that he was unfaithful, according to the Chicago Tribune. The book was also seen as a response to Wade’s 2012 book, A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball, in which he told his own side of their divorce story.
“I got divorced and had both my children wrongfully taken from me, I lost my home and my health, my reputation was destroyed,” Funches-Wade wrote in The True Story for God’s Glory. “But it was all nothing compared to the pain I felt from the love of money. From that pain I am still healing to this day.”
She’s a lawyer and owns several businesses
She attended Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, graduating in May 2017, according to her LinkedIn. Upon receiving her law degree, she started her own company, The Mediation Matters Firm, which provides alternative dispute resolutions, including case evaluations, domestic and civil mediation and parenting coordination.
Funches-Wade also provides domestic violence counseling and serves as a Guardian ad Litem in the state of Georgia, which allows her to serve as an advocate in the court system for abused and neglected children. She also owns a real estate investment firm.
In addition to her professional endeavors, Funches-Wade is the founder and president of A Woman’s Worth Foundation (also known as A Wow Woman Foundation). The non-profit is a Christian organization that focuses on issues affecting women, including domestic violence. The foundation has its own transitional shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence and provides services including counseling, clothing and food, and career prep.
She filed a court document opposing Zaya’s name and gender change
In November 2022, Funches-Wade filed documents asking the court to deny her daughter Zaya’s name-change petition (which was filed on Zaya’s behalf by Wade in August) — and alleging that her ex-husband was attempting to “profit” from her coming out as transgender. According to the court documents, Funches-Wade claimed Wade did not contact or consult her about Zaya’s name change or transition, which violated their custody agreement. As a result, she asked the court to deny Wade’s request until Zaya turns 18. She also alleged that Wade “may be pressuring our child to move forward with the name and gender change in order to capitalize on the financial opportunities that he has received from companies.”
Wade responded to his ex-wife’s allegations on Instagram. “While none of us are surprised by Siohvaughn’s attempt to fight Zaya’s identity and her unwavering attempt to drag my name through the mud, I’m very disappointed that she continuously find[s] ways of centering herself and HER needs, without regard to her children,” the former NBA star wrote.
He continued, “This isn’t a game for my family and definitely not for Zaya. This is her life … Siohvaughn has decided to pretty much be an absent parent to Zaya ALL ON HER OWN. … I will not sit on my hands this time and allow her to make a mockery of my dedication to my family. The high road has run out of real estate. My lawyer will be in contact and best of luck to the 14th lawyer as they try to unravel this book of lies that’s been sold to them.”
Funches-Wade responded to Wade on her blog. “First, these statements are completely untrue, and second they are very hurtful. Not only to myself, but more importantly to my children, who are as human, and subject to hurt and pain, as all other children, despite any lifestyle that they have been afforded,” she wrote.
She added, “I will do what I believe GOD has called me to do as a mother and that is love and protect my children and do what I believe is best for them. I’m by no means a perfect parent but I love my children with perfect unconditional love … I ask you all as a mother to please respect our privacy as a family with these serious and sensitive matters relating to our minor child.”
Despite Funches-Wade’s objections, Zaya was granted an official name change and assignment of gender by the court on Feb. 24, 2023.