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EXCLUSIVE: Basketball legend Chamique Holdsclaw ties the knot!

She wed NBA executive Cara Wright on Saturday in a private ceremony in Tennessee.

Chamique Holdsclaw (L) and Cara Wright (R) cut into their wedding cake.
Johanna Thompson

In an intimate ceremony surrounded by family, friends and plenty of familiar faces from the women’s basketball community — the peaceful hills of Tennessee rolling in the background and the sweet fragrance of Lady Vols greatness in the air — Chamique Holdsclaw wed Cara Wright.

India Alston

Holdsclaw and Wright would have to travel thousands of miles to meet for the first time — crossing paths at a basketball camp in Africa. Wright says she was “star struck” by Holdsclaw immediately, but then found herself pleasantly surprised by the conversations they shared. At the end of camp, they vowed to keep in touch as friends.

A first date would not happen until April 2015, but what a first date it was — the NCAA Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. While fans were cheering for their favorite teams, a real-life love-and-basketball situation was simmering in the stands.

And Holdsclaw would later propose marriage at the very location where it all began: Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I created a video from all the pictures and videos throughout our relationship and got down on one knee,” said Holdsclaw, boasting that the proposal came as “a total surprise” for Wright.

Wright, however, remembers it differently.

“Chamique is not able to keep things from me so she was so out of character!” said Wright. “I knew something was up but definitely wasn’t thinking it was going to be a proposal.”

As should be expected of a couple in love, each woman is not shy about doting on the other. Wright said she is most proud of Holdsclaw for sharing publicly about her struggles with mental illness.

“I am so proud of Chamique for sharing her story and being a voice to the voiceless, advocating to end the stigma of mental illness,” said Wright. “Her growth in sharing her story is amazing and her capacity to listen and start the conversation about mental health awareness is incredible.”

Holdsclaw, meanwhile, touts Wright’s caring nature as cause for admiration, referring to her as “patient and nurturing.”

“Her compassion for people is inspiring and she encourages me to be my true self,” said Holdsclaw. “Cara always makes time to make me feel heard and appreciated.”

And Wright expressed feeling profoundly seen by the woman she loves.

“I love how Mique sees me,” said Wright. “She thinks I can do anything and I feel so positive, confident and supported with her in my corner. She motivates me to be my best self! And [she] is good at making me be present and not dwell so much on the past or stressors of the day.”

Being truly seen, and in a positive light, is what a love relationship should provide for anyone lucky enough to enter into such a union. But visibility has broader implications for people in relationships that historically have been shunned by society at-large. With homophobia still rampant in this society, “visibility is important” and visibility saves lives.

This concept is not lost on the ultra-private couple, which is why it is so profound that they have chosen to forsake a little of their privacy to share their love story with the world. In doing so, Holdsclaw and Wright are potentially offering hope to someone who is ready to give up — or courage to someone currently drowning in fear.

In a shared statement, the couple said:

Our love story is special to us but we just want everyone to know that love is worth it, and can be unexpected, and needs to be embraced. Regardless of who you’re in a relationship with, if both of you are willing to commit and sacrifice to be together, love wins.

Cara Wright (L) and Chamique Holdsclaw (R)

Bridesmaids for Holdsclaw included former players Murriel Page and Dominique Canty. Edneisha Curry and Brittany Jackson were in attendance, along with some of Holdsclaw’s former coaches, including Mickie DeMoss, Holly Warlick and Nikki Caldwell.

The beautiful brides will spend their honeymoon in Mexico.

At home with the happy couple

Both women profess a love for traveling together, and the opportunity to learn about different cultures and eat good food. Yet, from toilet paper rolls to toothpaste tubes, most couples have a mundane “conflict” or two, and here are theirs.

Tamryn Spruill: What is Chamique’s most irritating or irksome habit?

Cara Wright: Probably the most irksome habit is that I like to watch basketball all the time and Mique has to have a personal attachment to be interested in watching a game! I’m more into watching all sports and she’s just not. But she will force herself sometimes.

TS: Who’s the better cook?

CW: I am — anything I make!

Chamique Holdsclaw: I am — I just make her think she’s the better cook so that she cooks more! She loves when I make red snapper, but I’m a low-key a chef when I want to be.

About the brides

Chamique Holdsclaw played 10 WNBA seasons, snagging the league’s scoring record in 2002 and rebounding records in 2002 and 2003. She won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and she guided the Tennessee Lady Volunteers to three NCAA titles (1996-98). Holdsclaw was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 9 of this year.

Cara Wright is the Director of Business Operations for the NBA’s G League affiliate to the Los Angeles Clippers and a professor of sports management. Wright is a former college player and has served in the role of fundamentals coach for the girls’ NBA Basketball Without Borders Basketball Camp in South Africa. She is also a contributor at Swish Appeal.