November 28, 2021 

Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier announces pregnancy

Collier and fiancé Alex Bazzell cite basketball legends as their parenthood inspiration

On Sunday, Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier announced the pregnancy of her first child. In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE Magazine, Collier and her fiancé of two years, Alex Bazzell, gushed about their baby girl’s expected birth in May 2022.

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Collier and Bazzell met during her senior year of high school and started dating during her junior year at UConn. The two got engaged in 2019.

Collier, who’s 25 and just finished her third year in the league and won an Olympic gold medal this summer, told the magazine she’s always wanted to be a mom and that her pregnancy came as a delighted surprise.

“What’s the saying, God laughs when people make plans?” Collier said. “Yeah, it was just obviously a surprise, but it’s such a blessing. And now, it forces you to take a step back and see what’s really important in your life.”

Collier cited WNBA legend Candace Parker as a role model for motherhood. Parker, who announced her pregnancy just months after her rookie season, and Collier are among the minority of WNBA players who are mothers and the extreme minority with children in the early years of their career.

But Parker isn’t just an inspiration for Collier. Bazzell, who trains some of the most elite athletes in the WNBA and NBA, also trains Parker. Parker wished the couple congrats on Instagram.

For Bazzell, the late Kobe Bryant is his fatherhood inspiration. He trained Kobe’s late daughter Gigi Bryant and wants to use Bryant’s ideas of raising a child in a basketball world.

“Kobe Bryant was the biggest mentor I’ve had, and how he raised his daughters,” Bazzell said to PEOPLE. “He didn’t want to put added pressure on them, and he let them be kids. He wasn’t trying to overstep and force what he was wanting to have happened with his children.”

The couple’s announcement leaves fans and analysts bringing up inevitable question marks for the Lynx. The team, whose playoff dreams were dashed in a single-elimination game against the Chicago Sky, enters free agency with many roster unknowns. Collier’s May due date likely eliminates her from most or all of the season, and it’s unknown if veteran Sylvia Fowles will return.

No matter what the 2022 season holds, Collier emphasized her excitement to raise her child alongside her teammates, who she referred to as the baby’s “11 other aunts.”

Current and former teammates, coaches and peers have already expressed their love and support for Collier and Bazzell’s parenthood journey.

“On behalf of Lynx players, coaches and staff, I want to share our heartfelt congratulations to Napheesa, Alex and their families,” Lynx Head Coach and GM Cheryl Reeves said in a statement. “We are eager to support Phee through this exciting journey and look forward to welcoming the newest addition to our Lynx family. Being a parent is an exceptional joy and we wish Phee a healthy pregnancy.”

Written by Gabriella Lewis

Gabriella is The Next's Atlanta Dream and SEC beat reporter. She is a Bay Area native currently studying at Emory University.

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