Kevin Durant and Monica Wright were both highly touted Washington, D.C.,-area prep basketball stars in high school, but the hour's drive separating Durant's home in Prince George's County, Md., from Wright's in Prince William County, Va., meant the two didn't wind up actually crossing paths until the 2006 McDonald's All-American national showcase in San Diego. What began there as a friendship has since developed into something more, as the 24-year-old Oklahoma City Thunder star and the just-about-to-turn-25-year-old reserve Minnesota Lynx wing player are now engaged to be married.
News of the engagement first appeared Sunday on gossip sites Media Takeout and Hollywood Life, and was subsequently confirmed by Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman before Wright herself answered in the affirmative after scoring a season-high 17 points off the Minnesota bench on Sunday as the Lynx blew out Diana Taurasi's Phoenix Mercury. (Clearly, Ms. Wright was in a good mood.)
Rumors of a relationship between the two pro players have been kicking around since May, when Durant — just after his Thunder had been eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies and just before he embarked on huge relief efforts following the devastating tornado that ravaged the Oklahoma City and Moore, Okla. — flew to Minnesota to sit front row at a Lynx game. He made a similar trip to Los Angeles last week, according to Mayberry:
When a sideline reporter working the Lynx-Sparks game last week began asking probing questions attempting to inquire about Durant's interest in the WNBA during a live in-game interview, Durant didn't reveal anything more than a blush.
“I like women's basketball,” a blushing Durant said when asked what brought him to the game.
Durant was then asked if he went to see a specific player.
“I come to see all of them,” he said.
(Pro-tip from a married fella, KD: Now that the cat's out of the bag, make sure not to give that answer ever again. You only come to see her now, forever and ever, amen.)
Wright had fueled speculation via social media in recent months, sharing on Instagram on a photo of her standing alongside Durant in an oversized Thunder hoodie and shorts, as well as a screencap of a FaceTime chat session during which she said Durant was "gettin [her] mind right."
Those interested in tracing timelines and connecting dots might also find this Durant tweet from back in Sept. 2011 intriguing:
Or maybe I need a basketball playing girlfriend...hmmm lol...monica wright where r u(love n basketball)
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) September 7, 2011
At the time, most figured Durant was referencing the 2000 film "Love and Basketball," which details the on-again, off-again romance between a pair of hotshot prep, college and pro ballplayers portrayed by Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan ... whose character was named Monica Wright. (The film's writer/director herself is pretty amazed by the coincidence.)
While NBA fans are surely more familiar with Durant's résumé, Wright's got quite a distinguished one of her own, earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors in high school and profiling as a top national recruit before choosing to stay close to home and attend the University of Virginia. In her final year in Charlottesville, Wright was recognized as the ACC Player of the Year, ACC Defensive Player of the Year and National Defensive Player of the Year, propelling her to selection as the second overall pick in the 2010 WNBA draft. (No. 2. Just like someone else we know.) She comes off the bench for the Lynx behind Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen, but acts as a top reserve for coach Cheryl Reeve, averaging 9.7 points, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 23.8 minutes per game.
Congratulations to Durant and Wright on their engagement and happiness. Here's hoping you become the first couple in recorded history to successfully navigate the wedding-planning process without losing your respective and collective your minds at least a couple of times. Maybe LeBron and Savannah have some helpful tips.