The Story Behind the Real-Life 'Love & Basketball' Proposal 3 Million People Saw

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystJune 5, 2015

Brey Dorsett and Alex Johnson still continue to pursue their dreams of playing basketball professionally.
Brey Dorsett and Alex Johnson still continue to pursue their dreams of playing basketball professionally.Credit: Alex Johnson

Life imitates art for hoopers Alex Johnson and Brey Dorsett.

As of Friday morning, 3,013,904 people have viewed the couple's Love & Basketball-inspired proposal video on YouTube. To put that in perspective, if they had charged $10 per view, the video would have already surpassed the $27,459,615 the basketball classic grossed domestically. 

Even the star of Love & Basketball, Sanaa Lathan (Monica in the movie), saw their video.  

"Love & Basketball" star Sanaa Lathan
"Love & Basketball" star Sanaa LathanChris Pizzello/Associated Press/Associated Press

"I loved it so much," Lathan told Bleacher Report. "I've never seen anything like it. Proposals are so important because obviously, that's the one time you make that gesture. She's going to remember that for the rest of her life. This was touching in a different way for me because it reminded me of the movie. If there was any influence from the movie on the rest of their lives, that just makes me feel great. It's very touching."

One of the craziest parts about the whole story is that Johnson and the future Mrs. Johnson have yet to see the movie together as a couple (they have seen it individually). While they maintain their story played out in an organic manner, they admit there are a few similarities between their relationship and Monica and Quincy's (Lathan and Omar Epps) on-screen romance. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

VIDEO: Real life "Love & Basketball" -- Man proposes while playing 1-on-1 with his girlfriend http://t.co/BdnDGVW8o4 http://t.co/odnHD3SwMA

"For a while, it was similar to how Quincy completely shut down communication [in the movie]," Dorsett told Bleacher Report. "When Alex and I weren't together, he would get too close or I would get too close and we would just shut down communication as a defense. Basketball was No. 1 for both of us then, so we didn't see love as that important. It's crazy how love finds its way."

The two hoopers first met during a tournament at North Carolina Central University back in 2011, when Johnson was playing for North Carolina State and Dorsett was hooping for nearby Johnson C. Smith.

"I played before he did," Dorsett explained. "I saw him playing and I know a lot of people in the area and he didn't look familiar. So I was like, 'he's kind of cute.' According to him, I was staring at him the entire game."

Johnson interjects with his own recollection of their first interaction that Dorsett playfully dismisses as "the wrong version."

"It was like I could feel that somebody was watching me," Johnson said. "You know when someone is watching you. You turn and look and you see the person looking at you and then they look away. She didn't look away."

Just like with Monica and Quincy, basketball became the backbone of their friendship over the next two years while both were working toward the shared goal of playing the game they love professionally. 

After Dorsett's 2013 graduation, basketball brought them together again when Johnson suggested that she spend some time with him in Toronto to get some quality work in as she trained for a shot at a professional team. 

Credit: Alex Johnson

"I was like, 'alright cool,'" Dorsett said. "So I came up, and the first week, I hated him. But then we went to a D-League tryout in Erie, and I sat with him in a car for six hours and something just happened and I fell in love with him."

The two have maintained a romantic relationship over the last two years despite playing professionally in different parts of the world.

With Dorsett planning to leave for France in August, Johnson came up with the idea for his proposal after discussing it with the parents of one of the kids on the AAU team he coaches.

After hearing their suggestion of working basketball into the equation, Johnson tweaked it to incorporate something that has been a staple of his relationship with Dorsett: a game of one-on-one.

"I wanted to do something that at the end of the day, I could say was memorable for us and nobody else," Johnson explained. "So I was like, let's just play one-on-one like we always do. I never let her win, but the proposal was perfect because she was a winner after this one."

Credit: Alex Johnson

Johnson said he and his friends discussed the idea, but they didn't rehearse it. He also made sure to innocuously mention to Dorsett that his hamstring was bothering him on the way to the gym that day.

"I told everybody what was going to happen," Johnson said. "I'm going to score two baskets. Third one, I'm going to flop and fake an injury."

The key, he explained, was making the first two shots.

"In my head, I told myself I can't miss these two baskets," Johnson said. "These are the most important baskets of my life right here. I don't think, if I don't score these two baskets, that we are sitting here talking right now."

The other main obstacle was finding a way to sneak the ring in while Dorsett was distracted after he went down. 

"My friend Marlo Davis, he was the one that came in and blocked her so she didn't have the opportunity to come in and help me," Johnson said. "My other friend, Clive Daniels, he was the one who passed me the ring. That was like the smoothest handoff I've ever seen. My plan was to drop to the floor and grab my hamstring and he would pass it to me. It turned out really well."

Lathan was definitely a fan of how he executed his plan.

"I'd give it a 10," Lathan said. "She was completely not expecting it."

Dorsett, admittedly not the hopeless romantic type, was caught off guard.

"Yeah, it was cute," Dorsett said in between chuckles.

The couple mentioned some time next summer as a potential wedding date, since Dorsett is scheduled to return from France in April or May. Johnson is considering opportunities to play in either Italy or Germany next season to be closer to Dorsett.

However, before she leaves, there is a little piece of business that remains unfinished with regard to the proposal.

They never finished the game.

"People are probably like, 'she just got engaged,'" Dorsett said. "Why does she want to finish the game? But that's the kind of competitors me and him are. Once we are on the court, that's just how it is. I still kind of really want to finish that game."

For his part, Johnson doesn't mind.

"Yeah, it's to be continued," he said.

Dorsett instantly fired back. 

"It's my ball, too!"  

It's that same spirit that Lathan said empowered Monica in the movie. 

"That's so dope, I love that. She's like Monica. She's passionate about her man and she's passionate about the game."

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.


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