Imani Boyette, Mistie Bass Talk About Athletes In Love

Imani and Paul Boyette. (photo courtesy of Imani Boyette)
Imani and Paul Boyette. (photo courtesy of Imani Boyette) /

There’s this stereotype of the professional athlete, and unfortunately it normally lends itself to failure in love. But there are the select few who figure out how to make it work: Sanya and Aaron Ross, Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner, Lauren and Jrue Holiday, Laila Ali and Curtis Conway, to name a short list. I thought I’d dive into the topic, with the help of Phoenix Mercury forward Mistie Bass, while sharing a bit about my own marriage.

I don’t think I ever really pictured my husband when I was growing up—you know, the way young girls fantasize about their wedding day and their perfect groom. But if you would have told me he’d be the mild-mannered, chubby faced football player I met my first day at The University of Texas at 17, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you would have followed that up with the fact that we’d be married for almost two years and both be professional athletes all before the age of 25, I would have laughed in your face. I never saw myself being married young, but then again, I never saw myself being a professional women’s basketball player either. It’s interesting how life works.

Imani and Paul Boyette. (photo courtesy of Darnell Porter)
Imani and Paul Boyette. (photo courtesy of Darnell Porter) /

Getting married in your early twenties is not a new phenomenon, I mean, my grandmother married my grandfather in her early twenties, but I guess in today’s world, it’s an aberration. A relationship where two people are both as important and have demanding careers, well, I guess that’s a bit new. Being part of a marriage that has two athletes means, sometimes, often, we are long distance. Paul and I spent our first nine months of marriage together before becoming long distance. If I told you this has been easy, I’d be lying. If I told you we/I had it all figured it out, that would also be a lie. But I know we love each other, and we’re committed to trying to figure it out and make it last no matter the difficulties. This reality, while exasperating in our circumstances, is not something unique to us.

I reached out to Mistie Bass of the Phoenix Mercury. Mistie is in a serious relationship with her partner, (Arena Football League) Cleveland Gladiators’ quarterback Shane Boyd, and expecting a bundle of joy soon. I reached out to Mistie because while her relationship is different, we shared similarities. I asked her a few questions about the athlete-athlete love thing. Like me, Mistie married young (to another man) and it gave her a unique insight that she was willing to share with me and subsequently you. Here are the gems she gave me into bullet points.

Disclaimer: Neither one of us are experts in love but we’ve found something that works for us. I am still learning every day and that is one of the biggest reasons I enjoy talking to those with a bit more life experience than me.

  • Technology!
    • Long distance love would not be possible without the pleasures of today’s technology. While our grandparents wrote letters and our parents had to set a time to talk on the house phone or pay phone, we have the magic that is FaceTime and text messages and cellphones. She mentioned the beauty behind simple “I love you” or “I miss you” texts.
PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 13: Mistie Bass
PHOENIX, AZ – JULY 13: Mistie Bass /
  • “It takes two people who are willing to have like really open and honest communication, and if you can always remain in truth, and always be open, then you’ve already won half the battle.”
    • This may have been the biggest gem and most true statement she said in our conversation. It’s so hard to love someone this way, but it is also vital for a relationship that is not only in the spotlight but long distance. You must be honest with your partner about your goals, where you are, and what you need. Communication sounds easier than it is but if and/or when you figure it out your relationship will thank you for it.
  • “Naps are quality time.”
    • I tried to explain this to someone once. Sometimes, our days tire us out so much that there is nothing better than just taking a nap together, being in each other’s presence. But not quite so literal, what Mistie was alluding to was the beauty in enjoying the small things. In loving each other so fiercely that everything doesn’t have to always be a spectacle. Sometimes it’s just you and the person you love at the end of the day, and that is enough.
Imani and Paul Boyette. (photo courtesy of Imani Boyette)
Imani and Paul Boyette. (photo courtesy of Imani Boyette) /
  • “You don’t have to date an athlete because you’re an athlete.”
    • And lastly, Mistie offers some advice to the young girls still in pursuit of their happily ever after. She warned of falling into and becoming dependent on the persona and spotlight that comes with being an athlete. She spoke of how important it is to know yourself but also your partner before making a serious commitment, to not fall in love with who a person can be or wants to be but with who they are. And while we both are obviously involved with other athletes she noted that there are plenty of fish in the sea and you don’t have to limit yourself solely to other athletes.

Look, I’m aware of the hypocrisy of it all: 22-year-old Imani giving you guys relationship advice. But these are merely my insights from my very short time in this world and in marriage. I don’t know much, I admit that. But I know I love my husband, that is he is the biggest blessing I’ve ever witnessed. I know he will love me whether I write poems, or dribble a basketball, or become a librarian. There is something to be said about someone who can love you so fiercely that you know you can accomplish whatever you set out to because they will be supporting you. I hope you find that love one day. I hope I can be his backbone as he has been mine so many times before. We’re together now but on Wednesday, he’ll fly home to watch the NFL Draft Thursday through Friday and wait for his name to be called. I pray I can be as great an NFL wife as he has been a WNBA husband.

Lastly, some news: Mistie Bass will be playing this season! Make sure to follow her on Twitter (with new blog coming soon about being a new mommy) and hear all about the hard work she’s going to put in to get back on the court after the 2017 All Star break.