The microwave oven beeps in the kitchen. The star of the Indiana Fever is preparing dinner for her new husband, Parnell Smith, at their home on the northwest side of Indianapolis. A few minutes later, Mrs. Tamika Catchings-Smith greets Parnell at the door with a kiss.
"He's obviously very attractive, but smart, intellectual,” said Tamika Tuesday night, in the first interview the couple has given together. “He played basketball, so being able to relate in that sense and being able to talk about other stuff outside of basketball and sports. We're both very faith oriented. He's really close to his family. I'm obviously really close to mine."
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The couple met in July 2014 after a Fever road game in Los Angeles. Parnell was working in L.A. and was introduced to Tamika by a mutual friend. The two hit it off, even though the Fever had lost the game and Tamika did not normally go out after a loss.
"She has the biggest heart of anybody I've ever met, which is one of the things that really attracted me to her,” said Parnell. “(It) doesn't matter who it is. She could see someone trying to move something across the street and she's going to jump out and say, 'Hey! You need some help with that?’"
Parnell played basketball himself on a pair of state championship teams at Pike High School (2001, 2003). He went on to play at the University of Buffalo, then professionally in Europe for five seasons.
"I told him early on we will never play for real because that's a relationship killer,” said Tamika. “If I lose, I won't want to talk to you. I won't want to be around you. Now we're married, so that's definitely not going to happen.”
The couple got engaged about a year after meeting and Smith moved back to Indianapolis. He works as a project coordinator for Windstream Communications. They were married in a small ceremony at the Skyline Club in downtown Indianapolis February 7th, with photo shoots at Monument Circle and Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Only 27 people attended the wedding, and that includes the pastor and photographer.
“It was very family oriented and intimate by being so small," said Parnell.
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The newlyweds look at wedding photos on a laptop computer while listening to a recording of Ryan McDaniel singing “A Thousand Years”. McDaniel performed the song at their wedding. He’s also the mutual friend who introduced the couple.
"You don't look at weddings for how much you spend, but you look at it for the moments that you have,” said Tamika. “Like everything was just perfect. There were a few things that like happened within the wedding. I think I walked to the wrong spot. The pastor had to tell us to back up."
The marriage begins as Tamika enters the final season of her career.
"(Tamika is) very caring, respectful to people,” said Parnell. “What you see is what you get. The things that she talks about in her interviews and as you see her in the community, she's really that person that you see - genuine, kind, do whatever for you."
Tamika says she and Parnell want to have children after she retires and they will consider adoption as well. But first, Tamika makes one more run for a WNBA title with the Fever and goes for gold one more time with Team USA at the Olympics in Brazil later this year.
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