Love and basketball, sometimes continents apart

Andrea LeGrace Mingo and Danielle Robinson have known each other since 2004, when they were 15 years old and attended the USA U16 women’s basketball team trials in Colorado Springs.

Ms. Mingo was friendly to everyone. Ms. Robinson was all business.

“She was there to form the team and go home,” said Ms Mingo, known to friends as Drey. However, she decided that they would become friends. “I was the nerdy, quirky kid who would get her to talk to me,” she said, laughing.

The two would become good friends. They kept in touch through high school and saw each other at various traveling basketball tournaments along the way. Ms. Mingo played for Marist High School in Atlanta, while Ms. Robinson was on the team at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California.

They briefly lost touch before college, but when Ms Robinson heard Ms Mingo had bacterial meningitis, she reached out to check on her. Then they reconnected as professionals and never lost touch.

Ms Mingo also became a support to Ms Robinson when she injured herself playing basketball in March 2016. Ms. Mingo was then playing professional basketball for a team in Lublin, Poland.

“I had surgery on my Achilles tendon in 2016,” said Ms. Robinson, who was then with the San Antonio Stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association. “When I was down because of my injury, she was the person who came up for me. The time difference didn’t matter, she was my person.”

Ms. Mingo also knew that she had found someone she could feel comfortable with. “I realized I was in love with Danielle when I felt safe telling her all my deepest, darkest secrets,” she said. “She became the friend I didn’t want to go anywhere without. If there was one person I wanted to share an experience with, it was always her.”

Their first date was in September 2016 in Ms. Mingo’s hometown of Atlanta at a restaurant called Barcelona Wine Bar. They ate Spanish tapas while reconnecting.

“It was just catching up — and letting each other know that we wanted to take our relationship to the next level,” said Ms. Robinson, who traveled with her team to Atlanta to play the Atlanta Dream this week (Ms Robinson was still injured and did not play).

Ms. Mingo continued to live in Atlanta, and Ms. Robinson completed rehabilitation from her injury in San Antonio and was eventually traded to the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in 2017. Mingo live now.

Ms. Robinson, 33, has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Oklahoma and was drafted sixth by the Stars in the 2011 WNBA draft. She has played for the Minnesota Lynx, Phoenix Mercury, Las Vegas Aces and, since 2021, Indiana Fever. She also had off-season stints with professional European teams in Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Prague.

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Ms. Mingo, also 33, graduated from Purdue in 2013. During her college career, she suffered multiple injuries in addition to the bacterial meningitis that caused her significant hearing loss. Despite these difficulties, she continued her playing career abroad with Belgium and Poland for two years after playing briefly with the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. She now runs a nonprofit group for deaf children called Sounds of Serenity and is a health advisor for the wellness app Calm.

On August 6, 2017, Ms. Mingo drove down from Atlanta to see Ms. Robinson, now on the Phoenix Mercury, compete against the Washington Mystics. The couple went out after the game.

“I told Danielle that night that I was ready to be her friend,” Ms Mingo said.

“She looked at me and said, ‘I’m ready.’ I was like, ‘What for?’” said Ms. Robinson, laughing.

They maintained a long-distance relationship for several years as Ms. Robinson traveled the world for her basketball commitments. Late night calls and early morning texts kept them connected while apart. One summer, Ms. Mingo traveled to Poland with Ms. Robinson, where they worked remotely late into the night and explored the country together during the day.

Around Christmas 2019, the couple took a boat tour on the San Antonio River Walk with a group of friends. Ms. Robinson planned a private river boat tour and traveled to a scenic part of the river under the pretense of taking a group photo. As Ms Mingo stood up for the photograph, Ms Robinson got on one knee.

“I was amazed,” she recalls, laughing.

The couple wed on November 4 in front of about 150 guests at Canyonwood Ridge, a function space in Dripping Springs, Texas, just outside of Austin. Sydney Colson, a WNBA player for the Las Vegas Aces and a former teammate of Ms. Robinson, was ordained and officiated by the Universal Life Church.

During the ceremony, the couple passed their wedding rings around the gallery for their guests to pray about as they wished. In keeping with the theme of engaging their guests, they chose a color scheme that would honor those in attendance.

“We chose black and white as a theme because our friends bring color to our lives,” Ms. Robinson said.