People in Sports Who Took Fans to Proms
If teen movies have taught us anything, it’s that our high school prom takes four years of petty divisions, quixotic battles and personal melodramas and condenses them into one epic extravaganza where poetic justice is meted out and all loose ends tied.
Another thing teen movies have taught us is to never believe anything we see in teen movies is real. In reality, prom is—like most things in life—pretty much what you make of it.
So while prom night can be anything from a non-event to a huge, limo-driven spectacle showcasing how much money parents are willing to waste, for most people it’s just a good excuse to get dressed up, stay out late and drink bottom-shelf liquor out of a Pepsi bottle.
However, reality has never fully freed itself from fiction, so there are exceptions to the norm—prom nights that become local curiosities or even national news stories. And there are few things guaranteed to make that happen like scoring a date with a celebrity.
Sometimes the celebrity prom date is a feel good story that tugs at the heartstrings. Other times it’s nothing more than a bossy teenager menacing a celebrity on social media until they say yes. Either way, it tends to make headlines—even if the invitation is declined.
Here are some people in sports who have accepted (and declined) prom invitations from fans.
In February of 2014, American ice princess Gracie Gold graciously accepted a YouTube prom invitation from Malibu (Calif.) High student Dyer Pettitjohn. Said Gold, “If it works out, I would love to go.”
The acceptance was particularly gracious, given that she was pretty much ambushed during an interview on Extra. Pettijohn surprised Gold by greeting her on set with a bouquet of flowers. A few days prior to the interview, Grace tweeted “This melted my heart,” in response to the YouTube invite.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see if “it works out.” Gold was pretty smart giving herself an easy out, just in case things get weird. Or weirder than having to go prom with a stranger.
In May of 2011, Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who was then entering his second season, escorted Independence (Ohio) High senior Joyce Grendel to her prom. She propositioned him via Twitter after her date backed out and never dreamed he’d say yes.
Within a few hours of Grendel’s invite, Haden surprised her by accepting. Haden told FOX8 Cleveland, “I knew her because she tweets me a lot, and she’s been a really good Haden Nation supporter. All my autographs, all my signings, she always shows up.”
And Haden didn’t just go through the motions, renting a tacky limo and picking up some carnations at the grocery store. Instead he showed up in his white Lamborghini, which beats a limo every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
In March 2014, Michael Ramirez of Crosby, Texas, propositioned Texans cheerleader Caitlyn Beth via Twitter.
Asked Ramirez: “If I get 10,000 retweets will you go to prom with me :) you will get asked in a cute way!”
Replied Caitlyn: “Of course I will :)”
And that was that. Naturally Ramirez found more than enough support for his cause—his cause being the desire to take a professional cheerleader to prom—and Caitlyn made good on her promise. The next day she tweeted, “Can’t wait for prom :).”
Not long before being drafted by the Browns in 2012, (then) Alabama running back Trent Richardson escorted 17-year-old Courtney Alvis to her prom at Hueytown High. At the time Alvis was taking chemo maintenance treatments, following a battle with leukemia a year earlier.
Said Richardson, “I did it out of my heart. I’m lucky to be here with Courtney.” Her fight against the disease really touched him because his own mother is fighting lupus and he had two aunts who died from cancer.
In the spring of 2013, impossibly sexy model Kate Upton, who is “in sports” because of her SI covers and dating Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, said maybe she’d go to the prom with Jake Davidson, the Sherman Oaks, Calif. high schooler who propositioned her on YouTube.
Honestly, most guys would kill to get a Twitter maybe from the likes of Kate Upton! Unfortunately the model’s schedule keeps her pretty busy and she wasn’t able to be his date. But either she or some PR wiz at SI was considerate enough not to leave the young man in a lurch.
Although she wasn’t Davidson’s first choice, he did get a ‘yes’ from Nina Agdal, a Danish model who has appeared alongside Upton in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
In March 2014, Seahawks tight end Luke Wilson accepted a prom invitation from his former high school, St. Thomas of Villanova. Stephanie Dufour propositioned Wilson at a question-and-answer session he held at the Ontario school.
Said Dufour, “I want to have a hotter prom date than all my friends, so I was wondering if you would go to prom with me.” According to CBC News, the gym erupted in applause.
She said she expected him to laugh if off and was surprised by his response. Said Wilson, “Usually we get weekends off, so if I can swing it, I’ll come back, and I’ll go to prom with you.” Naturally it was met with even more applause.
Of course, he did leave himself a little wiggle room in case he has to bail at the last minute, but at least he didn’t shut her down in front of the entire school.
Back in 2010, 18-year-old Conner Cordova snagged the date of a lifetime to his high school prom in Denver. The Dakota Ridge senior really laid it on thick in his YouTube video imploring UFC Octagon girl Arianny Celeste to be his prom date.
Cordova noted the whole thing felt like a dream, telling the Denver Post, “I hope I don’t wake up too soon.” Celeste said she appreciated the effort he put into the video, adding that it “caught [her] eye.”
Apparently the whole thing didn’t qualify as “a date” because Cordova had to be up early the next morning to appear on Fox & Friends. But since he says he Celeste knocked him a little kiss at the end of the night, it sure sounds like a date.
Dan Gronkowski and Greg Little
In April of 2013, Browns tight end Dan Gronkowski and wide receiver Greg Little didn’t go to the prom with just one kid, or even a couple of kids, but an event to benefit more than 100 of them.
They attended A Prom To Remember, an annual event in Cleveland which supports kids battling cancer. Organizers of the prom couldn’t have been happier for their involvement, the same goes for the guys themselves.
In March of 2014, a Massachusetts high school student kicked into high gear a Twitter campaign aimed at scoring NESN’s Jenny Dell as his prom date.
Whatever that entailed for Rockland High's Cam Stuart, it totally worked, because Dell will be on his arm come prom night. Stuart was recently in the WEEI studio talking about his dating success.
In May of 2011, Jaguars linebacker J.T. Thomas, then a rookie with the Bears, attended the prom of Joslyn Levell, an eighth-grader with spina bifida at Suncrest Middle School in Morgantown, W.Va.
At the time Thomas, who attended West Virginia University, was actually still in Morgantown with some spare time on his hands due to the NFL lockout. He and Levell were acquainted because she and his younger brother, Jared, rode the same school bus.
Levell said of her appreciation, “After so many people turned me down, this was so big, especially because he asked me instead of me asking him.” Said Thomas, “This was Joslyn’s night. It wasn’t about me,” adding “she’s not just my friend for that one night.”
Thomas couldn’t have been sweeter about the whole thing. His agent needlessly pointed out that he did it on his own accord and that it wasn’t a publicity stunt—nothing about this came off looking like a stunt.
In the spring of 2013, beautiful Belen Mozo, an LPGA golfer who appeared in ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue a few years ago, made one Knoxville, Tenn., student’s wish come true when she agreed to be his date to the senior prom.
With the help of his older sister, Arielle, Alex Notte, of Bearden High, shot a video of the invitation and posted it to YouTube and Facebook. Mozo actually learned of the video and contacted Notte’s mother herself.
Mozo reached out to Kristine Notte, first to confirm that the video was real, and then to accept the invitation. According to WRCB Chattanooga, Alex “has hearing, vision and neurological disorders,” and had taken golf lessons from Mozo two years prior at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
In May of 2013, Heat superstar Dwyane Wade found himself with an extra couple of days on his hands after easily eliminating the Bulls from the playoffs in five games. He could have spent those days lounging around his Miami mansion, but decided to make a dream come true instead.
Nicole Muxo, a senior at Archbishop Coleman Carroll, had asked Wade on a number of occasions to be her date to various school events. Muxo spent a week creating and editing her final invite to Wade, a YouTube video asking him to be the “perfect date” to her “perfect night,” that according to a report in the Miami Herald.
Considering he Heat were in the midst of another championship run, it’s understandable that Wade wasn’t quick to respond in the affirmative. Though he did acknowledge Muxo’s persistence, “She continued to keep going for it—no matter how many times I said I am going to be busy.”
Apparently Muxo sent Wade a last minute direct message on Twitter, providing the address of the prom just in case. A last minute message that proved very worthwhile, as Wade actually showed up at the prom to surprise her—and her date, Laurent Chaumin. Even though he third-wheeled it, a good time was had by all.
In May 2013 Stephanie Flores, a high school student in Houston, was inspired by the success a girl in Miami had in getting Heat star Dwyane Wade to surprise her at prom. So, according to a CBS Sports report, she thought she’d “try her luck” getting the Rockets’ Chandler Parsons to do the same.
Through a series of tweets, Flores implored her “Twitter fam” to hit Parsons up on her account. Her initial tweet: “@ChandlerParsons pleaseeee make my life and escort me to my prom on May 31st!!! A simple response would make up for it. I am a huge fan!!!”
Parsons tweeted back: “Thanks for the invite @steph_marie03. Unfortunately I’m not in Houston. I hope you have a great time!! Be safe.” He could have just ended it there, but Parsons sent a party bus for the kids because he’s clearly awesome.
No one would ever accuse ESPN’s Michelle Beadle of being overly sentimental or even…nice. Just to clarify, that’s not an insult. Beadle is guy’s girl, a buster of both balls and chops—she doesn’t coo at babies and she never sugarcoats anything.
Which is why when she recently accepted the prom invitation of Jack Jablonski, a Minnesota high school student who is paralyzed from the neck down, you know she didn’t do it for any other reasons than what she said.
Beadle said her own prom "sucked" and was a "disaster," welcoming the opportunity to make the night special for someone else. She and Jablonski have since exchanged tweets, making it clear there’s nothing up in the air about her commitment.
What the heck is it with these Cleveland Browns? These guys are all about the prom!
In 2013, Champion High senior Leanne Brown wasn’t even planning on going to prom, that per a report by FOX8 Cleveland. That’s when her mother stepped in on her behalf and recruited a pretty high profile date for Brown.
Brown’s mother worked as an assistant for former Cleveland wide receiver (now with the Jets) Josh Cribbs, who she told about her daughter not having a date. At that point, apparently, Cribbs "picked up the phone" and offered her himself.
The social wideout didn’t stop there! Not only did he ask Leanne to go to her prom with him, he even tweeted out the news to his thousands of followers on Twitter, which led to a pretty nice bump in her own followers.
American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has taken an awful lot of crap for being…well, let’s just say he can swim like a fish, but might not be the best in a debate. That being said, fundamentally he seems like a nice guy.
Case in point: In January of 2013, 18-year-old Danielle Jennette, a senior swimmer at King’s Fork High in Virginia, told friends via Twitter her dream prom date would be Lochte. As things tend to do these days, it really snowballed from there.
Unfortunately, Lochte was unable to accept the invitation, but he went above and beyond in politely declining. Lochte sent Jennette a personal note and a dozen red roses—not a bad consolation prize!
In March of 2014, Seahawks running back Christine Michael made the entire senior year of a Texas high school student by accepting her invitation to the prom. Taylor Kirkwood, an autistic student at Anahuac High, will be the talk of the town when she arrives at prom on the arm of a Super Bowl champion.
According to KPRC Houston, Kirkwood’s mother has a cousin that went to high school with Michael, which is how the date was arranged. Her mother “wanted to do something special for her daughter, since Taylor hasn’t always had it easy.
Not only is she autistic, but until surgery a couple years ago she suffered from scoliosis. It’s safe to say this definitely qualifies as something special.