Sports star’s baby bonus

His daddy dream has come early

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - This Week -

As Shea Ili cud­dles up to his preg­nant wife Morgan for our pho­tos, he lov­ingly rubs her belly, his denim shirt a re­fresh­ing change from his usual New Zealand Break­ers sin­glet.

The pro­fes­sional point guard feels fully con­nected with his un­born baby, who gen­tly kicks at Morgan’s stom­ach as they chat about their ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated De­cem­ber ar­rival.

Shea’s re­ac­tion to his ac­tive bub is dif­fer­ent to the first time he felt it move, when he pulled his hand away in fright.

“It was weird!” ad­mits the 25-year-old as his wife of three years laughs in agree­ment.

Morgan, 24 – who lives in Auck­land while her bas­ket­baller beau is tem­po­rar­ily based in Welling­ton – beams as she talks about her morn­ing sick­ness hav­ing passed and how she’s feel­ing great six months in.

“I first felt our baby kick around 20 weeks and it’s re­ally the only thing mak­ing me feel preg­nant be­cause as soon as I hit 12 weeks, I’ve been re­ally good,” she tells. “I was sur­prised.”

Shea – who spends his year work­ing be­tween the Sky City Break­ers, Tall Blacks and Welling­ton Saints – is happy but ner­vous for this next step, with the pair agree­ing that they don’t want to know their baby’s gen­der ahead of the big day.

“Hope­fully a sur­prise will help me get through the birth,” jokes Morgan, who met Shea six years ago in a friend’s garage.

Back then, a 19-year-old Shea had ad­mired the greeneyed beauty from afar when they played at high school bas­ket­ball tour­na­ments, yet they’d never met.

“He barely spoke to me as he was so shy,” re­calls Morgan, ad­mit­ting that Shea loos­ened up af­ter a few drinks. “Then we hit it off and he was a sweet­heart.”

The for­mer One­hunga High School stu­dent cheek­ily adds, “She forced her­self onto me!”

De­spite a shared pas­sion for bas­ket­ball, the cou­ple chose a round of mini golf for their first date.

“He ended up spilling Coke all over his crotch and went home,” laughs Morgan.

De­spite this hic­cup, the cou­ple fell hard for each other but they were sep­a­rated when Morgan left a few months later for an in­ter­na­tional bas­ket­ball schol­ar­ship at the Univer­sity of Hawaii.

For four years, the cou­ple spent most of their re­la­tion­ship do­ing longdis­tance while Shea trav­elled the world for bas­ket­ball and Morgan stud­ied psy­chol­ogy.

With Shea’s dream of be­ing a pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball player se­cured, Morgan fol­lowed her own goals and went to play bas­ket­ball in the US, ac­cept­ing a twoyear schol­ar­ship at Ore­gon Tech Univer­sity.

“Long-dis­tance worked for us be­cause we were both do­ing what we wanted, in­stead of one of us sit­ting around wait­ing,” she tells.

In Jan­uary 2015, be­fore Morgan left for the US, Shea pro­posed dur­ing a windy night-time trip to Devon­port Beach, which didn’t go to plan.

“I was leav­ing a week later for Welling­ton and I wanted to take her to din­ner, but we had a bas­ket­ball game and my coach said I couldn’t take it off,” Shea ex­plains.

“I had to find some other way to pro­pose, so I got some friends to light can­dles and ar­range them in a heart shape on the beach, but the wind blew them all out!”

Morgan re­calls, “He was sweaty from bas­ket­ball and I just wanted to go home. I got an­noyed and started walk­ing back be­fore he got down on one knee.”

The cou­ple mar­ried in Auck­land in March 2016, be­fore Morgan re­turned home per­ma­nently from the US, and Shea col­lected var­i­ous awards in­clud­ing the NBL’s Most Im­proved Player and Most Valu­able Player.

With Shea sign­ing a two-year deal with the Break­ers this year, the pair also bought their first home in Birk­dale, Auck­land.

The cou­ple ad­mit hav­ing a baby came ear­lier than ei­ther of them ex­pected.

“We planned to wait longer but found out when Shea was at the Com­mon­wealth Games in March,” says Morgan, who took four sep­a­rate preg­nancy tests to be ab­so­lutely sure it was pos­i­tive.

Shea re­calls, “She sent me a text just say­ing g ‘Babe ‘Babe’ and then a Snapchat of the test. I didn’t know if we were ready or not, but I was s ex­cited.”

Now the cou­ple hope Shea won’t miss their first­born’s birth while he’s play­ing bas­ket­ball in Perth, Christchurch and Welling­ton.

“I have games around the time the baby’s due, so hope­fully it doesn’t come early!” he says.

Ei­ther way, Morgan is con­fi­dent her hubby will make an ex­cel­lent dad.

“I try so hard to play with our neph­ews and all he has to do is walk in the room and they’re all over him!” she smiles. “There are so many things we’re look­ing for­ward to about be­ing new par­ents, but bu we’re most ex­cited for the feel­ing of un­con­di­tional love and build­ing that bond to­gether.”

Mar­ry­ing in 2016, Shea and Morgan are now ex­cit­edly await­ing their De­cem­ber ar­rival, who will have a cute play­mate in puppy Bos­ton.

A ner­vous wait for the cou­ple! “I have games around the time the baby’s due, so hope­fully it doesn’t come early,” says Shea.

Ful­fill­ing their hoop dreams in the sport they both love.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.