TORONTO – Miami Heat guard Wayne Ellington became a dad for the first time on March 22 when he and his fiancé, Safiya Khaled, welcomed a new son to the world, Wayne Robert Ellington III.
Then, 12 days later, Ellington celebrated again as North Carolina won its first national championship since 2009, the year Ellington was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player while leading the Tar Heels to the 2009 title.
Since Wayne was born, Ellington has been gone more than half of his son’s life, but he and Safiya are in constant contact when he’s on the road.
We spoke to Ellington about being a new dad and how difficult it is when he is away from home for our latest Q&A.
Q: What is the toughest part about being a parent?
Ellington: Having to leave them this early. That is tough. But we’ll have the off season when I can stay with him all the time.
Q: How tough is it to say good-bye and go on a road trip since Wayne was born?
Ellington: (Safiya) is always encouraging me. Obviously with my career and what we’ve got going on right now. … She’s been very supportive. We’re always face timing and she’s keeping me up to date with everything going on with him. She’s been great.
Q: When you’ve been home how many hours of sleep are you getting a night?
Ellington: I’ve actually been getting pretty much recently. She’s been letting me get to sleep at night. She has someone else staying with us and helping her out so I’ve been getting some sleep. Like I said, she understands how important this is for us.
Q: How many diapers have you changed so far?
Ellington: Maybe two. I’m still learning.
Q: What’s the toughest part about learning how to change a diaper?
Ellington: It’s not that hard. It’s just having the patience, especially with a new born. They tend to cry when they’re having their diaper changed.
Q: Have you bought Wayne his first basketball?
Ellington: Not yet, I told him I was going to give him some time. I’m going to give him a couple of months before I give him a ball.
Q: Did Wayne watch North Carolina’s title game victory over Gonzaga with you?
Ellington: He was with me. He was sleeping through it but he was with me. It was his first big game.
Q: Have you bought him North Carolina national championship onesies?
Ellington: No. But that will be the first Carolina onesie for sure, championship onesies. He didn’t get any 2017 championship gear yet but he’ll get some of his dad’s 2009 championship gear.
Q: What kind of advice have you gotten from your teammates about becoming a first-time dad?
Ellington: Everybody just says how much you are going to enjoy it, how much you are going to love it. You are going to need patience but it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you. Everybody has been very positive and encouraging. That’s how I feel already. I’m looking forward for him to continue to grow and just being a dad.