Keely and Derek

How We Met

Our high schools used to play each other in the LIT tournament and state play offs. I actually used to chant very harsh names when playing Derek and his high school teams. One of which my student section loved was, “helter skelter”. Still not knowing each other, we both attended the University of Kentucky. I was on the dance team, and he was on the basketball team. But, it wasn’t until the beginning of our sophomore year that we officially met. After hearing about each other here and there the past few years, we ran into each other at one of Derek’s former teammates house while he was hosting a party. I was having a conversation with one of our mutual friends Mia and Derek came over to talk to her and introduced himself to me. The first thing he said to me was, “I think I follow you on Instagram”. One thing led to the next and we ended up going to Waffle House to end the night with some of our friends. We were together every day after that, and he officially asked me out November 7th of 2014. The picture above is a photo from the night we met. Derek was with his friends from high school who were visiting, and I was meeting Mia out.

As I stated above, Derek played basketball for the University of Kentucky. I spent the last three years of my college career attending every home game, and traveling to many away games all over the surrounding states. Outside of basketball, Derek was a huge fan of me and supported everything I wanted to do. Therefore, I did whatever it took to support him through out his career and make sure he knew he was loved. I got a customized jersey made, and would get my own personalized t-shirts with his name and jersey number, and even make up my own little sayings, on top of getting an XL phat head. He didn’t play much his sophomore year, but when his junior season hit he became the difference maker on his team. He took off and had a lot of success on and off the court. After every game the top 3 players of that game would have what they call “media”, talking to the local and non-local sport reporters. Derek started to get a lot of media time after games, and during his interviews he would mention me. He credited me with a lot of his success, as I was his constant support.

how they asked

My favorite thing to do is watch him play the game he loves. I’ve seen his struggles, and i’ve seen what it took for him to get where he is now, so his basketball career is very important to me. As he started to mention me, our relationship became very public very quick.

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We had a lot of the Big Blue Nation supporting us both. I started getting interviewed before his games, and articles were getting posted that made the BBN create a connection with us, and vice versa. Rupp Arena became our second home, and we spent so much of our time there.

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After playing at Kentucky for four years, his last home game in Rupp finally came, senior night. It was a very emotional day, as that would be the last time I see him playing in Rupp as a Kentucky Wildcat.

I wanted to make this night as special as I could so I had many surprises set up for him through out the day. Derek had asked me prior to Senior Night if I would walk out on the court with him before the game as he gets introduced to all 30,000 fans that were in attendance. Little did I know what was coming after. I was so nervous about walking out on the court that I wasn’t really paying attention to anything around me. I originally had a pair of tennis shoes on that day he had bought me for Christmas that were UK colors that I wore to almost every game and my mom made me change into heals, so I was also focused on trying not to fall. He was the last one to be called out of the seniors that night.

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The faculty had made huge cut outs of them that they got to bust through after their names were called, and Derek had a lot of trouble with his because he was so nervous (which I didn’t know why until after).

Keely and Derek's Engagement in Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY.

As he walked over he seemed shaky, but I figured it was because it was the ending to a huge milestone in his life. Little did I know, it was because he was about propose.

After hugging and exchanging words with his Coach and his wife, Derek whispered in my ear. I could barely hear him over all the cheering, so my first reaction was, “What?”

Next thing I know he drops to one knee, and the cheering becomes even louder. My heart immediately drops and I went into shock.

Everyone in the room disappeared and the only person I saw was him. It was the best feeling in the world, and something I hope everyone gets to experience at least once in their life.

I wanted to tackle him, but once I came back to realization of where we were I just hugged him, and tight. I didn’t want to let go. I had been going to UK games in that arena with my dad since I was a little girl. Never did I think one of the biggest nights of my life would happen there.

It was a very magical night and everything I ever dreamed of and more. After he proposed, “My Old Kentucky Home” began to play, and Derek was bombarded by his teammates and they went on to win their last game in Rupp as a team!

It made it even more special that we got to not only share it with our family, but also our Big Blue Nation family as well.

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Special Thanks

Brandon Carlisle
Michael Huang
Jeff Houchin