J.R. Smith was living the dream: He got married to girlfriend Jewel Harris last summer right after his Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA championship; soon after, a baby daughter was on the way.
But that dream turned scary in January when baby Dakota was born five months early. Nearly a week after birth, she still weighed just one pound. It fell beneath the mainstream radar, but Dakota’s future was a poignant storyline basketball fans followed for much of this NBA season.
Now that story has a happy ending.
Smith announced via Instagram on Tuesday that Dakota has finally gone home after spending the better part of five months hospitalized.
He captioned the photo: “We Walked In Together We Walked Out Together!! Thank you so much to our extended family at the [neonatal intensive care unit] You all are truly the WORLDS GREATEST!”
In a video posted online Jan. 7, Smith and Harris first shared that Dakota had been born premature. They provided few details, but the situation was clearly serious.
A preterm berth occurs when a baby is born after less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 1 in 10 babies born in the U.S. in 2015 was affected by the condition, which can cause serious health issues and even death. A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
But Dakota’s case was extreme even by that standard. The couple said she was born five months early, which would indicated Harris was pregnant for barely more than 20 weeks.
In early February, Smith shared a moving photo of himself holding Dakota for the first time.
“Today is one of the greatest days of my life,” he wrote then. “Today I get to hold my youngest for the first time! GOD is GREAT! #DakotaStrong”
Dakota strong, indeed.