New York Knicks' captain Amar'e Stoudemire has been considered something of a player--both on and off the court. He's been linked to singer Ciara, among other beauties, so fans got a big surprise when he tweeted from Paris: "When she said yes, it was surreal. I'm still floating. #engaged." The lucky lady is Alexis Welch, who he met back in 2002 when he was only 19 years old and playing for the Phoenix Suns.
The two met at a nightclub after a Nelly concert. They hit it off instantly. He was a recent NBA draft pick and she an accomplished high school athlete who excelled at volleyball, basketball, and track. Welch tells the New York Post, "We were both really young, so we went to a lot of movies. I would make him dinner, and we would just spend time together."
Although the pair have three children together, the 6'11" hoops star had yet to make it official and has been quiet about his love life--despite speculation by the media. Stoudemire changed all that on June 3. He popped the question with a stunning eight-and-a-half carat rock in their hotel suite overlooking the Eiffel Tower. "There were rose petals leading to a balcony with a 365-degree view of Paris," Welch tells the Post. "He had an acoustic-guitar player. He had a saxophonist. This is another side of Amar'e that people don't get to see."
While Stoudemire has been in the spotlight for an uneven season that ended with him punching in a glass fire extinguisher case and injuring his hand, Welch remained a behind-the-scenes player. She has supported him through injuries, career ups and downs, and the tragic death of his brother in February. Inch by inch, the Welch, 29, is now stepping out from behind the curtain.
In May, Stoudemire escorted Welch to the glamorous and star-packed Met Gala and she says he helped ease her jitters. Not quite enough to get her to speak with her idol, though. "We were standing close to Beyoncé, but I was too nervous to introduce myself," she tells the Post. Everyone has a wish list of celebrities. She's on there."
In Paris, the two checked out Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" tour. With Stoudemire's season over, they have also been spotted courtside watching the NBA playoffs.
Despite her increasing visibility, Welch, who was born in Kansas City and raised in Arizona, has no plans to give up her role as a stay-at-home mom to three kids, ages four, five, and six. "They are young, so they still enjoy being with us," she tells the Post. "So I'm going to enjoy every minute." Welch grew up with two sisters in a close-knit family. Her mom works as an interior designer and her dad is an entrepreneur.
Welch says her plans for the future include working for the Amar'e Stoudemire Foundation, which her fiancé established to provide educational outreach to at risk-kids. In the meantime, she loves cooking healthy meals for her children and reading from their favorite books, the "No David" series.
In addition to being a sports-wife-to-be, Welch is already a sports mom. "Our oldest daughter dances competitively and cheers for our son's football team. Our son plays football and basketball." In the winter, the family enjoys ice-skating in Central Park.
The couple plans to wed in 2013.
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