“If I Would Have Died … I Would Have Felt Great”: Kelsey Plum Headed To Paris Olympics With Jackie Young: Ex-Husband Darren Waller Gives Up $14M, Retires From NFL

Las Vegas Aces stars Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young comprise what most people consider the best backcourt in the WNBA. They are both not only Top 15 players in the league, but they have won back-to-back WNBA championships together.

Two rings are enough to define any duo as all-time greats, but in addition to Young and Kelsey going for a third straight WNBA championship, they are also on the cusp of making some exclusive history in Paris this summer.

Per USA Basketball’s 3×3 account, the two Vegas ladies have the chance to become the first athletes to win Olympic gold in both 3×3 and 5×5 basketball.

“So many interesting storylines with the Aces and the Olympics, but this is one of my favorites,” Callie Lawson-Freeman replied.

“Make more HERstory Aces!” TJ Keasal cheered.

“This Duo & the most hard working,” a fan tweeted. “I’m so proud of them.”

“So proud of them. It’s gonna be hella amazing to watch.”

“4 years later, in 2028, Cam and Rhyne will be third and fourth on that list!!!” another person exclaimed.

Jackie and Kelsey will be joined by fellow Aces stars A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Gray on 2024’s Olympic roster — although Gray is still working her way back from an injury.

This year’s team is going for a record eighth straight gold medal, as Team USA has dominated the competition winning nine of 11 contests dating back to the 1996 games in Atlanta.

Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, both won gold on the inaugural 2020 U.S. Olympic 3×3 Basketball Team. Following their historic gold medal performance, the U.S. Olympic 3×3 Women’s Basketball Team was named 2021 USA Basketball 3×3 Team of the Year.

The U.S. Olympic 3×3 Team included Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky/Connecticut/Port Jervis, N.Y.), Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings/South Carolina/Sandersville, Ga.), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington/Poway, Calif.) and Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces/Notre Dame/Princeton, Ind.), as well as USA coach Kara Lawson (Duke).

While Plum won gold medals at the past two FIBA World Cups and has played in a total of six international events in the full-court game, this marks Young’s first five-on-five USA Basketball team for an international competition.

Both players have ascended to the big time, and now Cameron Brink, Hailey Van Lith and Ryhne Howard will carry the torch in Tokyo this summer for 3×3 excellence. 

Kelsey Plum Having An All-Star Season, While Husband Darren Waller Retires Following Divorce

New York Giants tight end Darren Waller married Kelsey Plum in March 2023, but they filed for divorce in April after a year of marriage. 

The Las Vegas Aces champion confirmed with a heartbreaking X post.

“I’m devastated. I walked through fire for that man, but now I see it’s time to go,” she wrote. 

“God has given me an incredible life, and I’m truly so grateful for the profound love from my family and friends,” Plum continued.

“One day I’ll share my story, today is not that day. Thank you for the grace to process my pain, to forgive and move forward. Today and everyday I will continue to choose joy. Much love KP.”

Most assumed that Waller cheated or went back on a promise he might have made Kelsey concerning his all-around behavior. Her post screams infidelity, but she still hasn’t revealed the cause of the divorce. 

In the meantime, Plum is among WNBA scoring leaders, averaging 19.3 points per game and headed to another All-Star game for a Las Vegas Aces team who is surprisingly struggling at 5-4, following an upset loss to the 4-7 Los Angeles Sparks. 

For Waller, however, sports have been the furthest thing from his mind amidst all of the other challenges he had in his life. The breakup with Plum, whether it be his fault or not, seemed to hit him hard. 

Waller released a song on social media expressing the pain and regret he has felt since losing the love of one of the WNBA’s most famous players. 

Of course, social media had a field day with the rumors of his retirement and his impending divorce. Waller got roasted for about a week, but Plum is acting as if she’s never been married, and Waller is going through it publicly. 

Recently the 31-year-old tight end announced his abrupt retirement from the sport of football. Waller says a “very scary” hospitalization last season drove him to his recent retirement decision, which shocked the NFL world. 

Waller said the experience “kind of forced me into a position to re-evaluate, you know, and I’ve made the decision that I’ll be retiring from the NFL.”

Waller announced his retirement on Sunday, saying he “found a lot of joy” in the sport, but “the passion has slowly been fading.”

In a nearly 18-minute video posted on his YouTube channel, the 31-year-old Waller confirmed he’s stepping away from the game after doing some soul-searching.

The Giants had been waiting for Waller to decide whether he wanted to play this season after not attending the team’s offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp begins Tuesday.

Waller Had Scary Medical Situation That Convinced Him To Retire

The medical situation Waller is referring to occurred last November while dealing with an injury suffered in a game a few days earlier. He said he was going home in New Jersey after shooting a music video when he began feeling ill and later started “shaking like pretty violently” and couldn’t breathe. He said he called 911 and ended up hospitalized for 3 1/2 days.

“I go back into my daily life and I’m pretty clear I almost just lost my life and don’t know if I really feel like if I would have died that I would have felt great about how my life was going if I died at the time,” Waller said. “I’m doing something that I found a lot of joy in and have had amazing moments with, but the passion has slowly been fading.”

NFL Players and CTE

NFL players have a history of CTE-induced depression, emotional challenges, violent mood swings and all other kinds of illnesses that constant brain collisions have historically inflicted upon football athletes. 

Football is a brutal sport, and the effects of brain trauma are well documented and not pretty, from former Kansas City Chiefs player Jevon Belcher blowing his brains out in front of coaches at the practice facility, to the many stories you hear of NFL players exhibiting bizarre and self-destructive behavior. So it’s better to leave too early than wait one hit too late.  

After his first song, Waller struck back at all of the people gossiping about his unfortunate turn of events with another heartfelt tune.

Waller, who dealt with hamstring issues the last three years, was limited to 12 games and had 52 catches for 552 yards and a touchdown in his only season with the Giants.

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