Dwyane Wade knows that the hard conversations are also the necessary ones.
And for the retired NBA star and his wife Gabrielle Union, that includes the moment in 2013 when he shared that he was expecting a baby with Aja Metoyer, whom he'd briefly been romantically involved with during a break in his and the Bring It On star's relationship. (Aja welcomed son Xavier Zechariah Wade later that year.) As he recalled, it was a conversation more difficult than competing in that year's NBA finals.
"Way harder to have a conversation with my now-wife," Dwyane said when Club Shay Shay's host Shannon Sharpe posed the question in a video shared Sept. 20. "You're trying to think of everything possible. It's all scary. This whole situation is scary enough, you're a public figure."
The athlete and Gabrielle, who first started dating in 2008, parted ways early in 2013 but ultimately reconciled and were engaged by December, tying the knot the following year.
"But you know that you've hurt someone that you've been building a relationship with and a life with," he continued. "And no matter what people say outside or what people think, it's like, ultimately, like you got to sit with you. You got to sit with this person, this woman you're gonna be with, right?"
But despite the difficult circumstances of this moment in their lives, the 41-year-old credits Gabrielle—with whom he shares daughter Kaavia, 4, as well as kids Zaire, 21, and Zaya, 16, with ex-wife Siovaughn Funches—with guiding the pair through it and out the other side. Especially given that his NBA team, the Miami Heat, was simultaneously competing in that year's playoffs and finals, which they ultimately won.
"I couldn't have gotten through that moment without her sticking with me," he explained. "That was a rough time for me. You're keeping something from people you love, and it's heavy. And I tried to pussyfoot around it. I tried to break up with her, ‘Hey, you know things has been bad lately. We've been having some distance in our relationship anyway.' Like I tried all that. She kept showing up."
And in the years since, the longtime couple have kept showing up for each other by putting in the work to make their relationship successful.
"It hasn't been perfect, it will never be perfect," Dwyane noted. "But that was nine years ago. We go to therapy, we've been to therapy. We've had shouts about it. We've had regular conversations about it. It's been something that is going to continue to be something that I have to work at and work on. It doesn't go away because years come or because I say sorry."
But despite the ups and downs, at the end of the day, Dwyane is ready to own his story—and is grateful for it all.
"Right now, this is all mine," he reflected. "And as good as it looked, or as bad as it seems, it's mine. I'm thankful to even have the good in my life. And I'm also thankful to have the things that's a little uncomfortable to talk about and deal with and experience, because that makes you live a full life."
Scroll on to see more photos of the pair.