In an emotional interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith and his wife Shirley described their miracle baby’s birth and resulting complications, J.R. Smith reflecting on that time, “My wife needs me; my daughter needs me – nothing’s more important at this point in my life.”
“My wife needs me; my daughter needs me – nothing’s more important at this point in my life,” J.R. Smith said, recounting the emotional time period surrounding his daughter’s birth. “When you see your child go through something—”
Smith continued, “Most of my life I’ve been able to be in control of everything, and something like that, and you have no control. It’s your child, and you’d obviously do anything for her. And it hurt.”
The Smith’s daughter, Dakota, was born four months premature.
Shirley Smith detailed the eevents leading up to the birth: “I was in pain, like every 15 minutes. I was getting, what I didn’t know at the time were, contractions. I’m like, I think something’s wrong.”
Shirley was at 21 weeks when she came in to the hospital. Dr. Jennifer Peterson stated, “That is truly where we would have really difficult discussions about how aggressive we are in resuscitation of a baby.”
Shirley and J.R. Smith on the discussion about resuscitation with their doctors:
Shirley: “They was asking us if they wanted— if she wasn’t breathing—”
J.R.: “Do you want us to resuscitate her because her being, ‘cause she’s so small that like, they didn’t want to hurt her, and …”
Shirley: “We was like, do what you gotta do to save her life. Period.”
Born on January 2, 2017, Dakota Smith “made it,” recalled Shirley.
The Smiths waited for nearly five months, according to the ESPN report, but were finally able to bring 7lb. 5 ½ oz. baby Dakota home at the end of May.
“All I could think about when I see her is like, ‘Well, they said that you wasn’t going to make it,’” said J.R. Smith. “Her spirit, her fight, the feistiness that she has – I just hope that she don’t play basketball, because if she get my attitude, then the WNBA’s gonna be in trouble.”