Brewers’ Devin Williams isn’t your average baseball star ‘I think I’d like to see like more freedom in the game … More freedom to be yourself, to express yourself’

NoCo is what they call it. Technically, it stands for North County, as in, the upper side of St. Louis County, where a few years back, the world had its eyes on America because of what was happening in Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown was killed by Darren Wilson in the street, which touched off America’s reckoning with itself as a police state unsafe for Black people.

That’s where Devin Williams grew up. 

The Milwaukee Brewers reliever with a vicious fastball and an even more devastating changeup is heading into his second season after racking up a solid amount of silverware in the offseason as both rookie and reliever of the year for the National League.

From a baseball standpoint, the 26-year-old is a phenom. After dialing hitters up with his 95 mph-plus fastball, he’ll drop an off-speed pitch on you that will change your life, whether you’re in the batter’s box or not.

They call it the airbender. It’s the best pitch I’ve ever seen.

But to understand what makes him tick, you’ve got to understand where he comes from beyond geography. His mom, like so many humans on earth, was just trying to make ends meet with three children. And he was just trying to grow up, be happy and play sports.

While most people call him Devin, the guy on the mound who embarrasses batters left and right actually goes by another name: Dave.

Raising Black children in America is a difficult task. Whether it be the mental energy one has to extend worrying about their safety around authorities, never mind peers, or the constant stress of making sure that happiness is even an option in the complicated matrix of their young minds trying to grow.

If you’re a single white mother doing so while trying to hold down a job, it doesn’t get any easier. Angela Norton, however, is a bundle of joy with a solid dollop of reality mixed in. The hours and days she spent on the road, just her and Devin, trying to fulfill his dream are incalculable and invaluable, as she sees it.

“I can remember like driving him to Minnesota and in this little red car,” she recalled, thinking about a trip to a showcase event. “We drive up there, I think we stayed one night, and we didn’t know what time he was going to throw. But he ended up throwing at night, and I did not take off the next day. So I literally drove back from Minnesota, through the night, and then I went to the gym to teach my spin class at 10 a.m.”

Real life means that real effort will reap real rewards. She knew her son was going to be a star and was willing to do whatever it took to make that happen. Including ignoring haters who didn’t have her same interest in mind. Mother and son went to the same middle school, but when recruiters got ahold of him, he ended up in a private school.

“They gave me a little bit of grant money for being a single parent, but it wasn’t that much,” she explained. “So, and here we are in white America, in a reputable school, that’s old white money. We run into some obstacles, like a lot of the kids of color that I talk to. I remember my last meeting being in the dean’s office with him and him telling my son that he would never play professional baseball. And I was like, ‘Oh, you’re never coming back here again.’ ”

Because “the rules” state that you can’t transfer from private to public and play in the same year for fear of potential shenanigans regarding so-called educational ethics, there was a concern that he might be forced to sit out one of the most critical years of his high school career. Instead, she just did the thing that most decent people do when they need help. She told the truth.

She wrote a letter to the powers that be explaining that her son had a magic arm, she was raising three kids by herself and that he flat-out needed to play. It worked. Norton protected her son as best she could and, in 2013, he signed with the Brewers with a $ 1.35 million signing bonus.

He bought her a house, which meant no more moving every two years, and Williams’ mother and sisters could live safely, and together. Only downside? They miss him dearly. When she put him on the road, alone, to go play baseball, it was an emotional experience to see her only son go off into the world.

“I was crying my eyeballs out, like, ‘My soonnn,’ yanno?” she said only half-jokingly but adorably. “He’s home for a short period of time and then he’s gone.

“He just bought a condo that he moved into before he went to spring training. And so my daughter and I, we were like, ‘Well, can’t you just stay here with us?’ He’s like: ‘I am 26.’ ”

In basic terms, Williams isn’t your average baseball star. Besides the fact that he’s Black, his style is more akin to an NBA player than a big leaguer. He loves Prem League soccer and playing FIFA. He goes overseas to cop luxury streetwear and his playlists include Lil Baby (“a staple, of course”), Young Dolph and Jack Harlow. He is not your father’s bullpen setup man, from a personality standpoint.

But just like so many other young Black players in this game, the path was tough sledding. He missed all of 2017 after Tommy John surgery, an experience that almost broke him mentally when it came to playing one of the many sports he loves.

“We were in Zebulon, like right outside of Raleigh. That was the worst year I’ve ever had playing baseball. ‘Cause I was terrible. There was one point where like, I just, I couldn’t even, I couldn’t throw a strike,” he said last month from his spring training home.

“There was one game I gave up a home run. And the next guy came up and it wasn’t even intentional. I was just pissed off. I’m like, all right, I’m throwing it right down the middle, as hard as I can. It didn’t go right down the middle. It went right over the dude’s head. Umpire ejects me immediately,” he recalled from his days with Bob Milacki, Williams’ pitching coach for the Carolina Mudcats in 2018, the Brewers’ high-A affiliate. “I was just, I was done with it. I walked off the field, there was a kid down the line. I threw my glove, told him he could have it. I was ready to go home at that point. I didn’t even want to play.”

It was a make-or-break moment for a kid who passed up a chance to play and study at the University of Missouri, a big-time program, to live with a host family in minor league towns while his mom worried about his living situation back in St. Louis. After that year, he would have been in a relatively dreaded purgatory after not being on the Brewers’ 40-man roster: a minor league free agent.

Thankfully for all of us who love seeing batters getting corkscrewed trying to hit off-speed pitches, Williams comes from strong enough stock and didn’t give up.

One of the people the Williams family credits for his fortitude is Kerrick Jackson. He was the coach at Missouri who recruited him and furthermore was simply a dependable friend in life. Williams even lived with the Jackson family for two offseason stints while he worked on himself.

“I think what it comes down to is understanding that specifically when we’re dealing with our young Black males, I’m tending to you as a young Black male, first and foremost, take baseball out,” said Jackson, who used to manage the historically Black Southern University’s baseball team, was a pro scout and now is president of MLB’s Draft League.

“I told him when we were going through the recruiting process … I said, ‘Listen, make sure you understand, regardless of whether you show up on campus or whether you signed in the draft, I’m going to be with you for life. Unless you tell me to go someplace else.’ I said, ‘I have a sense of obligation to make sure that you become the man that I think you can be. And I’m not worried about the baseball part.’ ”

Thankfully, that worked itself out. His fastball is high 90s, and again, we cannot emphasize this enough, his changeup is from another planet. Oh, and he’s working on a slider.

He figured out his fastball was best when he just threw it as hard as he could and nobody could touch it. He learned that in Pensacola, Florida, where according to Williams, the radar gun is legit accurate, unlike many minor league parks.

“There was a little scoreboard, like right behind home plate where it had the velo as well. And I just went out there with that same mindset. It’s just a place that I go to now,” he explained of his process. “I just said, here it is. I threw the first one 97. I was like, OK. … Let me see if I can get a 98. It was 97 again. I’m like, all right. 98, boom, 98. I’m like, all right. Let’s just keep going. Let me see a hundred. I can go. And I struck out three guys that didn’t even, uh, with nothing but fastballs.

“That’s where Dave came from.”

The minor leagues of baseball are a tough slog. Bus rides, not-great living accommodations, pay below living wage – none of it is easy. The argument, functionally, is that paying one’s dues in the bush leagues is what makes a player ready for the bigs. In practice, it means that while you might not be living the life of Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, you come across a lot of quality instruction as a baller that helps one figure out if Major League Baseball is a realistic dream.

Milacki realized the dream, even if briefly. You might remember his work from the complete game shutout he threw against the Minnesota Twins in 1989 where he faced the minimum 27 batters. (He allowed three hits and two walks in that game – meaning his fielders behind him did work.) What you’d more likely recall is his participation in one of the strangest no-hitters in baseball history in which he was pulled from a game after a line drive hit him in the arm. The out was still made and then three other pitchers combined to blank the Oakland A’s – on the road, no less. There was a baseball card with all four guys on it, which was both weird and dope at once.

In Wake County, he saw Williams mature as a human, not just a thrower during his time with the Mudcats.

“It was fun to watch him grow into being a man,” Milacki said. “It has nothing to do with me as much as him and who he was hanging around. You know, we kind of guide them the right way. We lead a horse to water. We can’t make him drink it, but he was hanging around some pretty good guys in the bullpen. And they’re all hungry to get to the big leagues and they’re all talking and they kicked him on the straight and narrow.”

As a young man in the toils of pro ball, what clearly kept him motivated was that Williams can do something that no one else on earth can. The quality of his fastball alone is enough to put him on a major league mound. Once you add the cambio? Forget about it.

“The spin rate on his changeup is just off the charts,” Milacki said. “If you look at [other pitchers], they’re in the low two thousands, like 2,100 or whatever. You look at him? Like 2,800.”

It’s a pitch he’s been throwing since he was a kid, when he was often the only Black kid on the team and understood full well what that meant in America.

“We were catch partners for years, man,” said Jared Fosdick, his boy to this day after the two met at 12 years old. “That changeup, that came out the womb.”

Fosdick, also a pitcher, hung up his cleats after playing college baseball and now is a family man. But he recalls growing up in Missouri with Williams. Fosdick, who is white, knew that being a friend meant more than being nice. It meant being an ally.

In the world of travel ball and competitive showcase tournaments, never mind high school sports, the world can be cold, even among teammates. But Fosdick was raised better than many. It wasn’t just the overt nonsense, it was the microaggressions that he knew to flag.

“Those statements that necessarily weren’t supposed to, you know, for them, they weren’t meant to be racist, but were very racist. A lot of it was just kinda like, hey, man, that was too far,” Fosdick said, recalling the days of him and Williams repping NoCo, even though they played at Hazelwood West High School, more colloquially known as Hazelhood.

“We played in a conference where we were playing a lot of inner-city teams. We were playing teams that were predominantly Black. And so for me in high school, I got to see firsthand schools that really didn’t put the same amount of, whether it be funding or time or money or coaching resources, whatever it was, at the school level.”

Nowadays, besides polishing his awards on his mantle, Williams thinks about what it is to be him. The odds were stacked against him on quite a few fronts. But after growing up and figuring it out, he’s doing pretty well. And is still serving plenty of Blackness if you need it.

When he etched the letters BLM into the mound before pitching on Aug. 24, 2020, life was completely different. The Milwaukee Bucks had yet to decide not to play a playoff game to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His Brewers teammates had yet to join their city’s fellow pro athletes in solidarity, leading several other MLB teams to do the same.

“What really opened my eyes was Mike Brown back in the day, back in 2014,” Williams said. “He’s a year younger than me. Lived 10 minutes from where I lived. At that time like that, that just really shook me. You know what I mean? And then to see him, essentially, the guy just got off scot-free, you know, for shooting an unarmed kid in the middle of the street. It really just kinda hardened me in a way, honestly, you know, because that’s just something that you have to deal with growing up in this country.”

Black child, white mom, whatever. Family is family.

“My mom is supersupportive. You know, she’ll back me up in anything and that’s, especially if I feel that powerfully, you know, that strongly about something, she would always have my back.”

This season, his approach to life is not changed, but matured and evolved. He wants a little more emotion in baseball, but then again, don’t we all.

Devin Williams of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park on Aug. 9, 2020, in Milwaukee.

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

“I think I’d like to see like more freedom in the game. You know what I mean? More freedom to be yourself, to express yourself. I don’t have a problem with a guy pimping a homer off me, but when I punch you out, don’t say nothing. When I pump my fist and I yell into my glove either. So that’s how I feel about it. You know, it goes both ways, but I think that that is good for the game.”

You can expect to see plenty more changeups this year for the Brewers, including perhaps, the new slider. From a pitch approach standpoint, his repertoire could go from untouchable to lethal.

“Honestly, I’m getting really comfortable with it, so I think I’m going to have to break that out. The metrics on it are like really good. It’s like creating a triangle, essentially,” he detailed with hand motions. “Fastball’s here, changeup here, slider’s there. So yeah, just locking that down. Just keep them off balance. Like they can’t expect one or you can hope for one, but you might get the other, no matter the count.”

As far as his pitches, it’s simple. It’s just like his identity as a Black man in life and his will to win on the field.

“I have confidence in both of those.”

Features — The Undefeated

LaToya Ali’s Knotless Braids & Style Moments


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LaToya Ali, love her or hate her, has played a very purposeful role on Real Housewives Of Atlanta this season. The Trinidadian personality, who gained popularity on Youtube, brought the drama with her mean-girl antics that injected some much-needed entertainment sans NeNe.

In a recent interview, Toya revealed she suffered verbal, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her estranged husband Adam Ali. Despite her impending divorce and difficulties in her personal life, Toya never missed the opportunity to show up and show out with her style and long knotless braids.

Since we like to uplift our fellow Black woman when she needs it most, we’re spotlighting the Canadian cutie’s fashion.

Check out 5 times she served us a lewk on the ‘gram.

Melanin Poppin’

Who said you need sun for golden hour? Toya is serving us a melanated glow in this satin canary two-piece by Revolve.

Style On Set

Yes, hunty; give us a dramatic sleeve moment! Complimented by her beach wavy lob and flawless makeup, we’ll say this is a look.

Reunion Fly

While she originally claimed she wouldn’t be attending the reunion special, Toya came dressed to slay at the season 13 reunion wearing a sinfully delightful dress by Naomi.

Red Hot

If we were going to get knotless braids, we’d show our stylist Toya’s flawless locks as inspiration. Whoever braids sis’ hair has blessed hands.

Holiday Fly

Toya also showed she can easily switch up and rocked this sleek hair look around the holidays.

In other Toya news, the fiery ‘RHOA’ star made headlines when she accused her co-star Drew Sidora’s husband of cheating. The banter between Latoya and Drew kept us locked in this season. We’ll have to see what the reunion show brings.


Toya And Her Mean Girl Antics Got Played

The ‘RHOA’ Ladies Come Dressed To Kill In All-Black At The Reunion

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She's got a natural glow

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Still Afraid Of COVID-19 After Getting The Vaccine? You’re Not Alone.


It’s hard, if not impossible, to comprehend just how difficult the coronavirus pandemic has been. With an invisible yet deadly virus shooting through our communities, we were told the best way to protect ourselves was to stay home, layer on masks, and isolate from friends, family and colleagues indefinitely. And so we did.

Over a year later, many of us are still living in fear — even, in some cases, after being vaccinated. The science tells us that the vaccines are highly effective and the chances of contracting COVID-19 after vaccination are slim. But shaking off trauma isn’t an easy task, especially while the news is focused on variants and a potential fourth surge.

The challenge for vaccinated people now is to step away from fear-based thinking and arrive at a place where they are willing to live and take risks again. Here’s why it’s so hard to stop living in fear after getting the vaccine, and how to readjust to life once you’ve had the shot.

Fear lingers even when the threat is reduced

After a traumatic event, it’s normal to be fearful and on high alert. Human beings are wired for survival and built to run from danger, said Lucy McBride, a practicing internal medicine physician in Washington, D.C.

“We are naturally fearful and afraid and vulnerable when there is a threat like COVID-19,” McBride said. After the threat passes, the fear can linger.

We see this play out with various traumas. Take, for example, people who were recently in a serious car accident. Survivors might develop post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and it could take some time before they’re ready to get behind the wheel again. Similarly, survivors of domestic abuse may hesitate before jumping into a new relationship.

The same concept applies to COVID-19. After more than a year of sustained trauma, it’s not going to be easy to pivot from a hypervigilant state of fear to a place where we are willing to live life and take risks again, McBride said. When the fear is gone and when the threat is minimized (through vaccination), it will be OK to let go and move on. But that’s often easier said than done.

“We are naturally fearful and afraid and vulnerable when there is a threat like COVID-19.”

– Lucy McBride, internal medicine physician

There’s also confusing messaging about what’s safe to do post-vaccine

One of the reasons it’s so difficult for vaccinated people to transition out of that fear mode is the broad, muddled public health messaging on what is and isn’t safe after vaccination.

“There are so many megaphones and there are so many conflicting pieces of advice,” McBride said.

Take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on travel. The CDC has released recommendations on what’s safe to do once you receive the shot, saying there’s little risk if you’re fully vaccinated (meaning it’s been two weeks since your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or since your Johnson & Johnson shot). The guidance also says that vaccinated people ― who’ve been advised to keep wearing masks and social distancing in public ― don’t need to self-quarantine after travel or after an exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (as long as they don’t have symptoms).

Then, however, experts from the CDC went on to say that nonessential travel should still be avoided, without much further explanation. (It’s basically because we’re still in a pandemic and COVID is still spreading like crazy, so we should all continue to be mindful and respectful. But it can be very confusing!)

The science is out there and it’s clear: It’s really hard to get COVID-19 if you’ve been fully vaccinated. “You’d have to try hard,” McBride said.

Clinical studies show that the shots are incredibly effective, but the real-world evidence is even more compelling. According to Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases specialist and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, real-word data shows the actual risk of getting COVID-19 after vaccination is about 0.05% — and that’s during a surge when you are around a lot of people.

Going to the gym, dining indoors, going to a movie theater or a hair salon — all the activities deemed unsafe for unvaccinated people — don’t carry the same risk for vaccinated people. Vaccinated people can safely do “all of that and more,” Gandhi said.

Now, the real-world data can’t possibly apply to every single person on the planet, McBride said. There will be rare breakthrough infections, and we will hear about vaccinated people testing positive. But by and large, after vaccination, death and severe disease are virtually off the table. There have been very few failures after vaccination, and the vast majority of breakthrough infections are likely to be mild if not asymptomatic.

All that said, it’s not time for vaccinated people to throw out the masks just yet — mainly out of respect for the majority of Americans who are still not fully vaccinated and remain susceptible to COVID-19. The latest evidence says fully vaccinated individuals are very unlikely to get sick, carry the virus or spread it to others, but as long as most of the population is unvaccinated, masks will likely be the social norm.

“Do be polite in public and maintain the restrictions that are imposed because we’re not all vaccinated,” Gandhi said.

“It’s like getting your feet wet. After any trauma, slowly stepping into the water will make things better.”

– Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco

How to get reacclimated to life after your COVID-19 vaccine

Human beings are wired for survival, but we’re also wired for connection. There are tons of studies highlighting how social relationships improve our mental and physical health and cut our risk of mortality. Having meaningful interactions with others is vital to our well-being, which is why health experts are starting to tell vaccinated patients to loosen the reins.

McBride recommended first finding someone you trust, like a primary care doctor or a therapist, who can help break down the broad public health messaging and provide nuanced guidance for your unique physical and mental health needs. The risk assessment for vaccinated people who are severely immunocompromised may differ from that which applies to the general vaccinated public.

It will take time for vaccinated people to break through the trauma, and everyone should go at their own pace. Start slow. If you’re still feeling fearful after being vaccinated, don’t jump right to eating at a crowded indoor gathering. Have a picnic with a friend who is also vaccinated, and if you feel good about it, do it again or try something else. Practice socializing and going out. Gradually, it will feel less scary.

“It’s like getting your feet wet,” Gandhi said. “After any trauma, slowly stepping into the water will make things better.”

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.


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‘Pose’ Final Season Trailer Promises Tears, Triumph And Billy Porter


Audiences got their first glimpse at the final chapter of “Pose” with the release of the Season 3 trailer this week. 

Set to debut May 2, the FX drama’s new season moves the action to 1994, when Pray Tell (played by Billy Porter) is reflecting on his legacy as he grapples with HIV-related health issues. Meanwhile, Bianca (MJ Rodriguez) is facing some professional challenges as she balances her work as a nurse’s aide with motherhood and a budding new relationship.

It isn’t all gloom and doom, however, as evidenced by snippets of the House of Evangelista strutting their stuff to the tune of Aretha Franklin’s “A Deeper Love.” 

Created by Steven Canals, Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, “Pose” dramatizes New York’s ballroom scene of the 1980s and ’90s. The show broke fresh ground for queer representation upon its 2018 premiere by featuring television’s largest-ever cast of transgender actors in series regular roles, as well as the largest LGBTQ cast for a scripted series. In 2019, Porter became the first gay Black man to win an Emmy for lead actor in a drama for his portrayal of Pray Tell, a designer and ballroom emcee. 

Canals announced on social media last month that Season 3 of “Pose” would be the show’s last, and consist of seven episodes. 

“This has been an incredible journey and we have told the story that we wanted to tell, the way that we wanted to tell it,” he said at the time. “I, along with my incredible collaborators, never intended on changing the television landscape. I simply wanted to tell an honest story about family, resilience and love.” 

Murphy echoed those sentiments. 

“We got to tell the exact story we wanted, as we wanted to tell it, and I’m incredibly honored and grateful,” the six-time Emmy winner said on Twitter

Catch the Season 3 trailer for “Pose” below. 


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Johnny Juzang’s leadership and scoring have propelled UCLA’s Final Four run Now the LA native and the Bruins face unbeaten Gonzaga

A bright orange sky begins to form over the mountains and palm trees.

It’s 6 a.m. in Los Angeles, and David Rebibo arrives at Harvard-Westlake School, ready to begin his morning activities. Rebibo is the head basketball coach, winner of both the state title in 2016 and CIF Division I title in 2017. Mornings are a chance for Rebibo to have some time alone, mapping out his plans for the day. The school is mostly empty, but not this day. Rebibo notices someone running on the track.

That person is Johnny Juzang, Rebibo’s star player on Harvard-Westlake. This wasn’t just a random occurrence. It’s an entrenched morning routine for him, waking up early, watching the sunrise and getting to work. The obsession to be the best, the drive to be great, have fueled Juzang from his days at Harvard-Westlake to now as a starter with the UCLA Bruins.

“I’ve always been someone with really big goals and expectations,” Juzang said. “With that, comes big dedication and commitment.” 

For the first time since 2008, the Bruins are in the Final Four. A program steeped in historical excellence became the Cinderella story of this year’s NCAA tournament, becoming the second program to go from the First Four to the Final Four. Juzang is a critical part of his team’s tournament success, providing the prolific offense (21.6 points per game, 48% field goal percentage), and the competitive spirit.

UCLA guard Johnny Juzang (left) and guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (right) celebrate after an Elite Eight game against Michigan in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 31 in Indianapolis. UCLA won 51-49.

Darron Cummings/AP Photo

It’s everything Juzang’s dreamed of since he was a little kid growing up in Los Angeles, a focal point for basketball talent.

“It’s something growing up you dream about,” Juzang said after UCLA’s 51-49 victory over Michigan to advance to the Final Four. “To do it with such an amazing group of guys, such incredible staff, such incredible coaches, makes it just so wonderful.”

Hard work, determination and success are foundational pillars in the Juzang family. His older brother, Christian, played college basketball at Harvard University before competing in the Vietnam Basketball Association. Younger sister Lauren is a musician who already has a debut single, “High School Dreamers,” on Spotify. Father Maxie is a successful entrepreneur who has run Healthcare Staffing Professionals since 2006. Hanh-Payton, Juzang’s mother, is a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley.

As someone who is of Creole/Vietnamese descent, Juzang embraces his cultural background. The values his parents instilled in him are very much apparent in the player and person he is today.

“The way they brought me up is to have good values,” Juzang said. “A common theme was to have a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed. It definitely applies to basketball. Having good habits in life will apply to basketball.” 

Juzang’s early basketball memories are of watching the Los Angeles Lakers, admiring those slick purple and gold jerseys. The 2010 NBA Finals, featuring the Lakers and Boston Celtics, sticks out in Juzang’s mind. Seeing his childhood idol Kobe Bryant continue to make plays to help his team win inspired Juzang to play basketball.

“That was such an amazing series,” Juzang said. “I remember watching in my living room with my family, going crazy. Kobe’s work ethic and mentality inspired so many people. I’ll always remember that moment.” 

The Juzangs wanted their son to attend a school that valued academic and athletic excellence. Harvard-Westlake fit the bill as a university preparatory school, boasting several athletic alumni, including baseball players Jack Flaherty and Lucas Giolito and former NBA player Jarron Collins. Juzang’s freshman year at Harvard-Westlake came after the team won the state title.

The young guard didn’t care about the high expectations of his team. Even as the team started slow, Juzang cared about being the best teammate possible.

“He always wanted to bring energy in the locker room,” Rebibo said. “A very humble kid who had a switch. When the ball went up and the clock turned on, he turned into an incredible competitor.” 

Juzang was never satisfied with his current play. He always desired to improve on various aspects of his game. Rebibo recalls Super Bowl Sunday in 2018 when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots. Instead of hanging out with his friends, watching the big game, Rebibo saw Juzang in the gym, perfecting his jump shot late into the night. His work ethic apparent, Rebibo challenged Juzang to inspire his other teammates to invest time in the gym away from the game. Soon after, several players were in the weight room or using their free periods to practice their shots in the gym. All thanks to Juzang.

“His work ethic, his desire to compete, has carried on for our program to this point,” Rebibo said. “There’s a standard of work for our program that has to be met because of Johnny Juzang. He’s a great leader and an incredible worker. I couldn’t be more proud.” 

Juzang’s greatest accomplishment at Harvard-Westlake came in the 2019 Mission League title game. Before the Mission League tournament, Harvard-Westlake played Mater Dei High School, one of the storied programs in Southern California. On the bus ride home, Juzang approached Rebibo, saying if the team plays up to its potential as it did against Mater Dei, nobody would beat them. 

“It all starts with me,” Juzang said. “I can’t rest. I can’t take any possessions off.” 

In the championship game, Harvard-Westlake squared off against its rival Loyola. Before the game, Juzang told Rebibo, “We leave nothing on the floor.” His intensity in the locker room before the game translated on the court, as Harvard-Westlake was up by 20 points in the second quarter. Juzang’s 25 points propelled Harvard-Westlake to its first Mission League title since 2011, defeating Loyola 53-44.

It was at that moment that Rebibo knew Juzang was different.

“At that moment, I knew he was a special player. I was blown away by how competitive he truly was.”

Harvard-Westlake School coach David Rebibo

“At that moment, I knew he was a special player,” Rebibo said. “I was blown away by how competitive he truly was.” 

At 18 years old, Juzang left Los Angeles to play college basketball for the prestigious Kentucky Wildcats. However, in his freshman season, Juzang received limited playing time, averaging 12.3 minutes a game. Before going to college, Juzang had an interest in UCLA. But when Bruins coach Steve Alford was let go, the opportunity didn’t happen.

In the transfer portal, Juzang reconnected with UCLA, wanting to play for a program with 11 NCAA titles and compete in the city where he grew up. His conversations with current UCLA coach Mick Cronin convinced him to move back home.

“I always knew it was a high-level program,” Juzang said. “I feel like he [Cronin] was not only going to push me but bring the best out of everyone. He was a guy I wanted to play for. I wanted to be a part of that.” 

UCLA guard Johnny Juzang (right) hugs Jaime Jaquez Jr. (left) after beating Alabama 88-78 in overtime in a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on March 28.

AJ Mast/AP Photo

This season wasn’t without its challenges. The Bruins lost Daishen Nix, one of Cronin’s recruits, to the G League Ignite team. Chris Smith, UCLA’s lone senior, tore his ACL during the team’s 65-62 victory over Colorado on Jan. 2, knocking him out for the season. Despite these injuries, the Bruins found a way into the NCAA tournament, competing in the First Four. Not many believed UCLA could advance very far after the team lost its last three games in the regular season and the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.

The Bruins began with an overtime victory over Tom Izzo and Michigan State, with Juzang scoring 23 points. They followed their First Four win with an upset victory over the sixth-seeded BYU Cougars, this time Juzang led scoring with 27 points. The Bruins could’ve folded against the Alabama Crimson Tide after Alex Reese hit a buzzer-tying 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. Instead, UCLA raised its performance, outscoring the Tide 23 to 13 in overtime with an exclamation point 3-pointer from Bruins guard Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Against the No. 1 seed Michigan Wolverines in the Elite Eight, Juzang came out with a blazing 18 points in the first half. Early in the second half, Juzang injured his ankle after falling awkwardly. He left the game briefly, getting some treatment before returning. It speaks to Juzang’s leadership, which has grown over the past year. It takes a lot for him to leave the game and not return, demonstrating the warrior spirit the Bruins sophomore brings.

I knew for us to get here, I was going to have to let him play through things and teach him shot selection,” Cronin said. “He’s more of a scorer than a shooter, and I think that’s what he got labeled at Kentucky and I wanted him to get rid of that mindset. We really worked hard on his midrange and him going to the basket. He’s grown immensely,”

“The biggest thing for me was bringing leadership vocally but also energy and spirit to the team,” Juzang said. “Coach pushed me in all aspects of my game, whether it was defensively or being a better playmaker.” 

As UCLA prepares for its national semifinal matchup against undefeated Gonzaga, the team is relishing the moment to play on the national stage. It’s a testament to the belief the players have in each other and the culture Cronin is building at UCLA.

Juzang is the breakout star of this NCAA tournament. He isn’t satisfied with playing in the semifinals – winning is the ultimate goal.

The kid from Los Angeles who ran on the Harvard-Westlake track at 6 a.m. will now get up early Saturday in Indianapolis with a chance to play in the national championship on the line.

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‘Black coaches matter’ gains momentum as a peaceful and powerful movement Oakland, California, coach Lou Richie is at the women’s Final Four to protest silently

Black head coaches matter, says Lou Richie, a grassroots basketball icon in Oakland, California, for more than 20 years and the current head basketball coach at Bishop O’Dowd High School.

Richie, a former college basketball player at UCLA and Clemson, decided to let the Pac-12 Conference know that at its tournament in early March.

The Pac-12 currently does not have a Black head men’s basketball coach in its conference, so Richie, along with two other coaches from Sacramento, California, decided to head to Las Vegas and peacefully shed light on the inequity.

They traveled to Vegas, checked into hotels on the Vegas strip for the duration of the tournament and arrived at the T-Mobile Arena early in order to peacefully greet the coaches and players – many of whom Richie knows – as they reached the arena. They held up picket signs in support of Black coaches being given opportunities.

Richie said he even attempted to check in with arena security beforehand to alert them of his peaceful intentions and to be directed to the proper place to protest. However, the security personnel at T-Mobile Arena were not so accommodating. Richie was told to leave and was escorted back to his hotel room to discard his picket signs before being let back into the arena.

“ ‘Look, man, I’m not trying to go to jail, I’m not trying to get shot,’ ” Richie said he told arena security. “ ‘I’d like to peacefully protest for two minutes while the team walks by, then I’ll be on my way. I’m only going to say positive things to the players and the coaching staff.’

“It was presented to me,” Richie continued, “ ‘Look, you need to leave right now and never bring the picket sign back or we’re going to evict you and cite you for trespassing.’ ”

Richie decided to take the guards’ advice and live to fight another day.

That day is now. Richie has decided to continue his protest this weekend at the women’s Final Four in San Antonio. This time, he exchanged the picket signs for T-shirts, hoping to avoid any further confrontation with security.

“I put down the picket sign and I put on T-shirts,” Richie told me. “The T-shirts say ‘Black Head Coaches Matter.’ Now I can walk in and people can still see it and people can still think about it. I can still tweet it and I don’t have to worry about a police officer putting his hands on me or pulling his gun on me, because it’s a peaceful protest, but it’s a shirt and it’s nonthreatening, so there’s no way someone could ask me to leave with my shirt on.”

Why is Richie doing this?

“The reason I started this, it goes back to George Floyd,” he said, referring to the killing of Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis police last year and the resulting social unrest that followed. He said he was inspired to get involved in social initiatives, such as voter registration, and that led him to focus on his own profession.

“In the Pac-12, right now there is zero percent head coaches of color, 42% of the assistant coaches are coaches of color, but 63.8% of the players are players of color … People have to take stances and it makes people uncomfortable, but in the end, that’s how you’re going to evoke change, asking people to think differently and think outside of the box,” Richie continued.

“The biggest misnomer is … I want to be clear, I’m not saying [white] coaches are not good, that they’re not deserving, that they should be fired or that they should not be hired. I want to be clear on that because that’s the easy way to misconstrue what I’m saying. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying across the country, Pac-12 as well, the hiring process needs to be more equitable and transparent.”

Richie has been working with like-minded organizations such as 12 Inches Over, created by Rider University assistant basketball coach Geoff Arnold and Arizona State University social sciences professor Scott Brooks, and the Black Coaches Association.

Another new and formidable organization Richie has been working with to address issues of inequality in sports is ABIS (Advancement of Blacks in Sports). ABIS was formed in September 2020 by New York City grassroots basketball legend Gary Charles. Like Richie, he was inspired in the aftermath of Floyd’s killing.

“When I was watching the George Floyd video, I literally thought that I was watching a live lynching,” Charles told me this week. “And I realized that a lot of us many times get upset and we do a lot of talking, but it’s time to stop talking and walk the walk. It did something to my soul. If it didn’t do something to you, then you just aren’t human. So, I felt that I needed to reach out to coaches and get us together and make some changes.”

“That’s why we created the ‘Watch List,’ because we wanted to do away with the myth that we don’t exist, that we’re not out there. So we said, ‘Hey, we got a cheat sheet, here are our superheroes.’ ”

FELICIA Hall Allen, Advancement of Blacks in Sports vice chair of programs marketing and outreach

Charles reached out to all those he knew in the basketball community, including prominent members of the grassroots and youth basketball community. He was able to enlist a who’s who of college basketball coaches, including Leonard Hamilton, Dawn Staley, C. Vivian Stringer, Cuonzo Martin, Dave Leitao, Nikki Fargas and others.

In short order, membership was expanded beyond basketball into all sports, including baseball, led by former MLB player and manager Bo Porter, who is now MLB director of coaching development. Now, ABIS membership includes influential people of all walks of life: sports figures, coaches, college administrators, professors, lawyers and the like. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, human rights activist and writer Richard Lapchick hip-hop legend Chuck D and seven-time NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady are among those who have attached their names and efforts to the organization.

“We’re asking for justice, we’re asking for fairness,” Charles said when asked about ABIS’ purpose. “ABIS wants to be the voice for racial equity in sports. We’re not asking to take over. We’re just saying that we deserve to have a seat at the table also.”

For a new organization, ABIS has had its hand in social justice issues, both in and out of sports. It was very active in get-out-the-vote campaigns for the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 Georgia runoff elections. ABIS has worked behind the scenes to promote the incorporation of name, image and likeness rights for college student-athletes and has been a united voice when unexpected social issues have arisen, such as calling for the dismissal of Creighton head coach Greg McDermott after he said, “I can’t have anybody leave the plantation” while addressing his team. ABIS, along with former East Tennessee State head coach Travis Williams, also helped create a historically Black college all-star game that will be played during Final Four weekend starting next year.

Still, ABIS has been most active in its advocacy and promotion of Black coaches in college basketball.

“We have to be unapologetic about creating an opportunity for [talent] and elevating our own,” said Felicia Hall Allen, ABIS vice chair of programs marketing and outreach and president and CEO of FHA Associates, a motivational speaking and sports management company. She has represented multiple women’s college basketball coaches and Staley recently credited Allen for helping turn South Carolina’s season around after speaking to the team. Staley’s Gamecocks will play in Friday’s Final Four.

“That’s why [ABIS] created the ‘Watch List,’ because we wanted to do away with the myth that we don’t exist, that we’re not out there. So we said, ‘Hey, we got a cheat sheet, here are our superheroes,’ ” Allen said.

ABIS created a “Watch List,” a list of the top mid-major Black men’s and women’s head coaches and a list of the top Black men’s and women’s NCAA Division I assistant coaches and provided the lists to athletic directors and executive search firms. This, of course, will help eliminate the excuse that many athletic directors and search firms are not aware of the pool of qualified Black candidates or that such a pool does not exist.

“It’s one thing to boldly advocate and another just to talk,” Allen said. “And that’s what Dr. Lapchick said: ‘I’ve been putting out these [The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport] reports every year, but the progress [in terms of the percentage of Black coaches who are given head-coaching opportunities] has been at a glacial pace.’ ABIS is in place because we want to see results. Dr. Lapchick has been measuring it for a long time, but now we’re starting to see some results.”

Some results came early in this year’s hiring process. Boston College hired former College of Charleston head coach Earl Grant and Minnesota and Penn State hired first-time head coaches Ben Johnson and Micah Shrewsberry, respectively. Indiana hired NBA lifer Mike Woodson, Fordham hired longtime Villanova assistant coach Kyle Neptune and Wichita State removed the interim tag from Isaac Brown. There have also been other Black coaching hires this year, but like Kobe Bryant said, the “job’s not finished.”

In the current climate, there is optimism that progress within the head-coaching profession will continue.

“This is an issue that’s not just unique to sports, that’s not just unique to college sports,” Lori Martin told me.

Lori Martin is a professor in the African and African American Studies program and the Department of Sociology at Louisiana State University. She also heads the racial equity research group and is chair of the name, image and likeness group for ABIS.

“In American society, race matters and gender matters. So, that means that you oftentimes have predominantly white men in power and they are hiring people who look like them or who are in their social networks. So, you keep creating this system of exclusion. And then you have a period like following the killing of George Floyd, where some people who never had to think about race are suddenly thinking about race. And so they start thinking differently about what their athletic departments look like and they may be getting pressure from various groups to try to look more like the players or more like the broader community. So, then they start reaching out to people who they wouldn’t traditionally reach out to. So, whereas maybe they would not have reached out to a group like ABIS, which, to be fair, didn’t exist prior to September 2020, now they’re looking to these groups and saying, ‘What can you do, how can you help us? We want to do better.’ ”

Features — The Undefeated

On this Final Four trip, Gonzaga assistant coach Roger Powell Jr. knows history awaits Powell, who played in the 2005 NCAA title game, hopes his Zags will keep their record-setting unbeaten season intact

INDIANAPOLIS – The last time Roger Powell Jr. and I spoke was on April 3, 2005. We were in St. Louis at the Final Four. Powell was a senior forward on a top-ranked University of Illinois team that tied an NCAA record that season with 37 wins.

On that night in 2005 before thousands of fans in traditional March mania, Powell catapulted Illinois into the national championship game with a remarkable performance against Louisville.

Nicknamed “The Rev” by his teammates because he was a licensed Pentecostal minister, Powell scored 20 points as the Illini defeated Louisville 72-57.

Things didn’t go well in the championship game when favored Illinois lost to North Carolina.

After that game, Powell assumed that was it in terms of any connection to college basketball.

“I thought my college career was over,” Powell told me Sunday evening.

“I had no intention of coaching. It wasn’t a goal of mine to coach. I thought maybe I’d win an NBA championship or a European championship. Never did I think that I would be back in the Final Four, especially in a national championship game. In any way, shape or fashion.”

Today, Powell is in his second season as assistant coach with unbeaten and top-ranked Gonzaga. The Zags enter Monday’s national championship game with a chance to make history.

After his final game in 2005, Powell embarked on a six-year quest to forge a career as a pro basketball player.

Illinois’ Roger Powell Jr. (right) puts up a shot over Louisville’s Larry O’Bannon (left) in the second half of a Final Four game on April 2, 2005, in St. Louis.

Eric Gay/AP Photo

First he went to Seattle, where he made the SuperSonics’ training roster but was cut before the season began. Then there was a successful stint in the Continental Basketball Association with the Rockford Lightning.

There was another try in the NBA with the Utah Jazz. Powell made the regular-season roster but was cut midseason. After that, there was a stint with the Arkansas RimRockers of the National Basketball Development League. Finally, there was a series of contracts in Europe with stops in Italy, Israel, Spain, France and finally Germany.

But even as Powell pursued his professional career, the basketball court, not the pulpit, continued to be his ministry.

He established RPJ Ministries Organization, which trained young athletes to reflect Christian values on their sports teams. He founded Integrity Sports Corp., a company focused on building basketball skills and the integrity of high school and junior high athletes.

“My heart was in mentorship and skill development and working with young kids,” he said. “I love high school kids. I love the excitement of taking an athlete and seeing them grow.”

In 2010 during the European playoffs, Powell was approached by Bryce Drew to be an assistant at Valparaiso. Powell said yes and at age 28 said goodbye to a playing career in pro basketball.

Powell stayed at Valparaiso for five seasons and followed Drew to Vanderbilt as an associate head coach. Drew and his staff, including Powell, were fired in March 2019.

Enter Gonzaga.  

Powell joined Mark Few’s staff at Gonzaga shortly after being dismissed from Vanderbilt. The ride has been amazing. Last season the team finished 31-2. This season — well, you know about this season: undefeated going into Monday’s championship game against Baylor.

Powell said this pandemic Final Four has been uplifting, exhilarating and stressful. “We’re in this bubble for three weeks. We can’t leave. We’re not traveling. We’re stuck here. It’s different.”

But he wouldn’t trade the experience, not in a million years. After having last year’s tournament canceled because of the pandemic, Powell — and everyone associated with college basketball — counts his blessings. Powell is happiest for his players. “As a coach, you appreciate it because you get to see your players, the kids you work with, the kids you recruit. You get to see them have the same experience that I had when I was a player. It’s pretty cool to see that.”

Time has passed, and while the memories of 2005 seem so recent, he is reminded by his players that 16 years have passed.

“The oldest player on my team, I asked him, ‘Hey, man, you’re from St. Louis. Do you remember when we played in the Final Four?’

“He said, ‘Coach, I was 7 years old.’ ”

Time moves on, yet the excitement of the Final Four remains timeless.

“The same excitement, the same feeling, the same goose bumps, the same desire that I had, I’m sure these guys have,” he said. “It doesn’t change.”

On April 3, we all had goose bumps as Gonzaga defeated UCLA on a last-second game-winning shot by Jalen Suggs. Just when Powell thought he had experienced just about every possible emotion as a player, this happened.

“As a coach you can’t really get caught up in emotions, because you’re thinking of the next play,” he said. “But once the game is over and once the buzzer goes off and there’s a buzzer-beater like that — for me, I lost it; I was so excited.

“It was surreal,” Powell added.

“He deserved that; the team deserved it. UCLA was amazing and they deserved to win also, but that is why March Madness is so special.”

When Powell and I spoke 16 years ago, he said that he wanted to be ordained and possibly start his own church. In the intervening years, his priorities have changed.

“When I started coaching, I couldn’t be a pastor,” he said. “I am still a strong Christian but coaching was my calling, my opportunity to reach kids and change people’s lives.”

Powell then excused himself. He had to join the team to watch film. “I am just trying to make sure I leave my mark. I want to help this program be the best it can be.”

A win Monday night and Gonzaga will do one better than anyone could have expected. Powell will experience something he never could have imagined when he enjoyed his own Final Four magic 16 years ago.

Features — The Undefeated

Mariah Carey Reacts To Her Vaccine Shot Like You’d Think She Might


Mariah Carey is hitting the high notes again ― but not onstage.

The five-time Grammy winner filmed herself getting a COVD-19 vaccine over the weekend ― and she screamed when the needle went in. (Watch the video below.)

“Vaccine side effect: G6,” she joked on Instagram in reference to the vocal range designation.

Carey revealed beforehand she was nervous and admitted she was distracting the medical professionals administering the shot.

She let out a Yiddish “oy” before the needle pierced her skin. Then she shrieked and clapped in relief afterward.

“Do it when you can,” she said. “We’re all in this together.”

The “Fantasy” performer said earlier this year that the pandemic lockdown may have benefited her career in a way.

“Taking off work has really helped my voice,” she said on a podcast in January. “I think in a lot of ways, just being able to have, like, stress-free. And everyone’s like, ‘Oh, you’ve got to get back in a studio. Like, you gotta, like, get back to singing.’ And I’m like, ‘I know.’” 

More than 61 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carey has one shot to go.

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Deion Sanders: ‘I gotta do better’ after Jackson State’s big loss at home Southern Jaguars dominate from the very start in winning 34-14

JACKSON, Miss. – Jackson State coach Deion Sanders drew five circles around the most damning stats on the final stat sheet in the Tigers’ 34-14 loss to Southern University on Saturday night.

He was mad. And embarrassed. And he didn’t mind letting everyone know.

“We got our butts kicked in every phase of the game. Glaring things. Fifty-nine rushes for 294 yards. We had 25 rushes for 66 yards. Glaring things. Forty-two minutes time of possession to our 17:11. Glaring things,” he said. “Third-down conversions 14-of-20, we’re 1-of-8. Glaring things. Another blocked punt. Glaring things.

“We came out flat from the top, and I don’t think we ever recovered. Glaring things. We played with no passion. I don’t feel like this is who we are. I take full responsibility for every darn thing that transpired out there today.

“I gotta do better. We gotta prepare them better. We had two darn weeks and we still didn’t look like we were prepared. We looked like we just didn’t have it. They played with passion. They played with intensity. We just didn’t have it, and that’s on me.”

When he took the job, Sanders knew it would take time to change Jackson State’s culture, mindset and roster. Until those things occurred, he understood there would be peaks and valleys for the program.

Southern’s eighth consecutive win over Jackson State before a national TV audience on ESPN and a crowd of 22,000 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium is part of the process as Sanders tries to turn around a program that won only 23 games in the previous seven seasons. Saturday’s loss was Jackson State’s second straight defeat after losing to Alabama State on March 20.

Football is a game of repetition, rhythm and routine. Jackson State has had little of that during a spring season that was created after the pandemic resulted in the fall season being canceled.

Neither have the other teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, but they’re not trying to put in new offensive and defensive schemes without the benefit of spring practice or an offseason.

Two of Jackson State’s games have been postponed and they were playing for the first time since March 20, just like Southern.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity this year and we’ve guaranteed ourselves a winning record,” said Southern coach Dawson Odums. “Our players, their parents and our coaches have a lot to be proud of.”

“We looked like we just didn’t have it. They played with passion. They played with intensity. We just didn’t have it, and that’s on me.”

jackson state Coach Deion Sanders

Jackson State also had an opponent switched, facing Mississippi Valley State instead of Prairie View A&M on March 14. Prairie View had to pause its program because of COVID-19.

“We have to do a better job getting the information that we have to them more readily and easily,” said Sanders, “so they can understand it and perform it.”

For now, Sanders understands some opponents will simply overwhelm Jackson State.

That’s what Southern did, outgaining Jackson State 474-309. Southern had seven plays of 20 yards or more, including runs of 20, 23, 24 and 33 yards.


Southern took the opening kickoff and 70 yards in 11 plays for a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard run by Devon Benn.

The Jaguars, leading 17-7 at halftime, pushed the lead to 20-7 on a 49-yard field goal Cesar Barajas in the third quarter. Benn added a 20-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 27-7 with 4:21 left in the third quarter.


The reality is this is very likely the time to beat Sanders and Jackson State. The best recruiting class in FCS, led by Sanders son, Shedeur, one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, is coming in the fall.

Several freshmen will compete for starting spots and the team is expected to add several other starters via the transfer portal. There’s a good chance the team Jackson State fans see now will bear little resemblance to the team Jackson State fields in the fall.

“I told all of them there was going to come a point in this game where adversity was going to hit,” said Sanders, “and we were going to see if we really believe and we didn’t.”

Asked if he had any positives, Sanders said, “Yes, the game is over.”

Features — The Undefeated

We’ve Got The Deets On Jeannie Mai’s Gorgeous Custom-Made Wedding Gown!


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Celebrity Sightings In New York City - February 07, 2020

Source: Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty

It’s official, Jeannie Mai and Jeezy have tied the knot! In a private ceremony, the couple married at their home in Atlanta on March 27, one year after their engagement. The Real co-host and the Grammy-nominated rapper, entrepreneur, and philanthropist first met when he was a guest on her Emmy-award winning talk show. “Years later, he asked me out on a date,” Jeannie told Vogue. “We shared a romantic sushi dinner in Los Angeles and salsa danced the night away. Later that evening, he asked if I could picture spending the rest of my life with him. And crazy enough, I could.” And just like that, the rest of their lives have begun!

According to Vogue, the couple originally wanted to get married at Lake Como or in the South of France but due to COVID, all of their lavish wedding plans suddenly changed. Then Jeezy’s mother passed away unexpectedly and they decided that the most important thing to them was to just become husband and wife and they did not want to halt their wedding plans any longer. “[And] at the end of the day, Jeezy and I really just wanted to become husband and wife,” she explained to Vogue. “So we decided to turn our original wedding into a mini-mony, where we exchanged our vows in front of our immediate family and a few close friends.”

Once it was revealed that the couple had secretly gotten married and the first pictures of the ceremony were released, fans immediately swooned over how gorgeous the wedding’s aesthetic was. Taking place in an open garden at the couple’s home, their wedding backdrop was a mix of magnolia, birch, and maple trees with gold and neutral colors across the altar. Jeannie’s custom-made Galia Lahav dress matched the neutral aesthetic of the wedding’s atmosphere and was a beautiful nude hue that surely helped her glow as she walked down the aisle to her new husband. The strapless gown featured see-through paneling and hand-placed nude appliqués that added to the classic look of the dress. For accessorizes, she wore a handmade 15-foot Galia Lahav veil that was sewed into her hair, which was pulled back into a sleek low ponytail. She completed the bridal look with diamond and morganite earrings created by friend Rosalina Lydster. For the 42-year-old TV host, designing the look was one of her favorite parts of the wedding planning process. “I collaborated with my stylist Lisa Cera and the Galia Lahav atelier to custom design the layers and the perfect hue,” she told Vogue. “The finished product was everything I envisioned.”

In a black and white Instagram photo, the newly named Mrs. Jenkins shared one of the first looks from her wedding. “You will forever be my “I Do,” she captioned the photo before signing off as “Mrs. Jeannie Mai Jenkins.”


Dress designer, Galia Lahav, also shared images of Jeannie’s wedding to their Instagram account, congratulating the couple on their recent nuptials. “CONGRATULATIONS JEANNIE & JEEZY❤️,” the caption read. “Our beautiful #GLBride @thejeanniemai celebrated her marriage to @jeezy wearing a custom, one-of-a-kind #GaliaLahav gown 💗 We are so excited to have you part of our #GLFamily 😊 @denisreggie #GaliaLahav #GLCouture”

And of course, Jeezy took to the ‘gram to share a close look at the intimate ceremony and his new life. He posted a snippet of the event with the touching caption, “I found me when I found you Mrs Jenkins… 💍.” Jeannie was among the first to comment, telling her new hubby, “get ready Mr. Jenkins. You are my reason for life 🌳🤍🌳.”

Congratulations to the happy couple!

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