By MICHAEL ROTHMAN
Ayesha Alexander didn’t know anything about basketball when she finally went to her first game at the age of 19. Alexander had started dating the star player at a small school in North Carolina and wanted to see what all the fuss was about, while showing her support.
Walking into the Baker Sports Complex, home to the Davidson Wildcats, Ayesha was floored by the sea of jerseys she saw bearing the name of the young man she had met five years prior at a local youth group in Charlotte.
That was seven years ago. Today, you know that couple as Ayesha and Stephen Curry.
Ayesha married the NBA superstar in 2011 and since then, the pair has welcomed two beautiful daughters, Riley and Ryan. But as a child from an artistic family, she’s still taken aback by her husband’s evolution and success over the past decade. In fact, before the two got together, she didn’t even know Steph’s father Del was also a star.
“We actually just left from visiting his home in Charlotte,” Ayesha told ABC News. “Walking through his old room and looking at all his trophies, I feel like I’m watching a documentary.”
Ayesha, the 27-year-old entrepreneur, blogger and chef, is someone Stephen gives all the credit in the world to, especially after the whirlwind summer the two faced following Golden State’s run to an NBA Championship.
“The way we manage?” Ayesha said. “By not thinking about it.”
The 2015 NBA MVP just wrapped the Asian leg of his Under Armor tour and last week, was honored as he graced the cover of the new NBA 2K16. Landing the cover of a video game is about as good as it gets for a professional athlete.
“This is a dream come true. I’ve been playing video games since I was a kid,” Stephen said. “Every year, when you see the new games coming out, you want to know who is on the cover. That’s the kind of stuff you remember. I have a shelf full of games and to be able to put my cover with them, it’s amazing.”
Ayesha brings an outsider’s perspective to Steph’s historic run.
“I don’t think he’s even had to time to think about what’s happened,” she said. “He doesn’t take it too seriously. He’s obviously proud, but it’s still family first. At home, he’s still the same Steph.”
Stephen, 27, is hands down one of the best and brightest stars in the NBA. But coming out of high school in the late 2000s, he said there weren’t many suitors, even with his famed pedigree.
“There was definitely a certain level of pressure and expectation, especially from the Charlotte and North Carolina area, where Del made his name and I grew up,” Steph said. “I was Del’s son, coming up through the ranks and all that. In high school, when I played varsity, the spotlight was big on me.”
But Steph said outside his local bubble, “there was no story around me.”
“I was a scrawny kid, no college coaches from higher Division 1 schools wanted to recruit me and offer me any scholarships,” he added. “There was pressure, but also the opportunity to play that underdog role and create my own story.”
There were some “superficial” calls from college coaches, Curry said, but in the end, he only had 3 scholarships offers.
“Davidson was the only one that showed up to my front door and came to my house, talked to my family. The rest is history,” he said.
History is right. Steph led his school to the Elite 8 in just his freshman year. He’s also Davidson’s all-time scoring leader with more than 2,600 career points and was the NCAA overall scoring leader in 2009.
That was all by design, Steph said.
“When I got there, I knew I wanted to make an impression and show [everyone who passed on me] what they were missing,” he said.
Fast forward past his All-Rookie team selection in 2010 and two All-Star selections since, Curry is a big reason the Warriors just won the franchise’s first championship in 40 years. But he still plans to fight every day to stay on top.
“I don’t publicize workouts very much, but the amount of effort and time you put in is why all this stuff is possible,” he said. “I get in like 4 or 5 hours a day, strength and conditioning or all-court stuff.”
“That’s my regimen, but I try all sorts of stuff; cycling classes, running on the beach, random stuff. You have to be creative, especially traveling back and forth, coast to coast,” he added about his hectic schedule these days.
And then there’s his shooting regimen, which is why he has the sweetest stroke in the game.
“I go into the gym and give my trainer the look,” he said. “If you get up 400 shots, 150 will be pressure shots, with a penalty for not making 5 out of 7 in one spot. I also do a game when you have to make three in a row for five separate spots on the court. Then two in a row, then one from each spot, all in two and a half minutes. I won’t leave the gym till I finish that.”
Ayesha’s ‘Wolf Pack’
Steph may be a busy man, but his wife is just as swamped and surrounded – just not by defenders.
“I am blessed with a wife that’s willing to travel with me,” Steph told ABC News. “I don’t know what I’d do if she wasn’t able to be there with me to go to different events. I mean, I have a two-month-old daughter and she’s been on 10 flights already … It’s a lot to manage, and we are still learning as young parents.”
Ayesha has basically created a brand for herself in the kitchen.
“We travel as a pack, our little wolf pack,” she said, adding that when she’s filming her food demonstrations or writing her blog, there’s most likely, “a baby hanging off me or Riley is sitting at my feet playing with Legos.”
Plus, “Steph is the most hands-on father. He manages his life and his day with so much humility, I’m just lucky to have him as my husband.”
Ayesha’s latest venture includes a collaboration with TJ Maxx, but in typical Curry fashion, it’s not just about promoting the brand, but more importantly promoting women.
“We are trying to shed light on the fact that all women and all mothers are remarkable,” she said. “We did a study and it came back that only 19 percent of women saw themselves in this light. The rest think they are just average.”
“Before becoming a mom for the second time this summer, I also considered myself average,” she continued. “That is something we all need to change.”
In five years, Ayesha’s dream is a cookbook, coupled with her own cooking show. And who helps with the cooking now at home? Riley, of course.
But no, 3-year-old Riley does not have any clue of the star she became when her father decided to bring her to a post-game press conference back in May during the NBA Finals.
“And that’s exactly how we’d like to keep it,” Ayesha explained. “She already has so much personality, if she caught wind of this, who knows what would happen.”
Creative Design Director: LORI NEUHARDT
Entertainment Editor: LESLEY MESSER
Executive Producer: DAN SILVER