Menelik Watson first laid eyes on Azania Stewart when he was a teenager at a basketball camp in London. There was something special about her, a unique energy.
“I just didn’t have the confidence back then to say anything to her,” said Watson, the Broncos hulking right tackle.
On Saturday night, Watson found his confidence. He found it during the third quarter of a preseason game on the sidelines at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. He had been trying to spot Stewart, with whom he rekindled a relationship two years ago, but he couldn’t locate her in the crowd.
Finally, Watson saw his girlfriend standing in the front row with her friends visiting from Atlanta and California. He dropped to a knee and asked her to marry him. Stewart was stunned as curious onlookers in the stands snapped photos.
She said, “Yes!” 💍
Congrats, @MenelikWatson!#GBvsDEN pic.twitter.com/2ZrmA1oywr
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 27, 2017
“No one knew but me,” Watson said of his in-game proposal plan.
Stewart is a professional basketball player who played for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics in London. She played college ball at Florida and Watson, who played college football at Florida State, used to check on her stat lines, even though the two hadn’t yet reconnected.
As for whether they’re impending union will calm the rivalry born from competing at neighboring schools? Don’t count on it.
“We still compete over that stuff,” Watson said. “You talk in the future, we’ve got to figure out if we do have kids, God willing, where they’re going to go.”
Stewart, a 6-foot-5 center, is due to head overseas Sunday to begin a new season with a professional team in Latvia. So Saturday night, after Watson’s playing time for the night had ended, he made his move.
“I’m so excited,” Stewart said during an in-game TV interview. “I didn’t know anything. He suprised me.”
Watson kept the plan close to the vest. His teammates didn’t know. But they were quick to congratulate him.
“That was very cool,” Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “None of us had any idea, really. That was a surprise for sure. I can’t say I was expecting that or have seen that before. But I’m happy for them both, obviously.”