I always learn new tips, tricks or advice when I do these couple interviews. They are always inspirational and full of fun and laughter. So chatting it up with Chris and Erika was no different. The Wards have been married almost eight years, and have their hands full with four kids (six-year-old twins, a four-year-old and an eight-month-old). She’s a well-known interior designer in Atlanta, and he’s a former NFL player, now coaching at Morehouse College.
In addition to all of this, they each own and operate a non-profit organization. Erika founded Room Service Atlanta whose focus is to give back to the city of Atlanta, one shelter at a time. Several local designers share their talents to create comfortable and relaxing interiors for homeless families.
The Transition Awareness Program (TAP) was founded by Chris as a result of what he experienced during his freshman year of college. TAP aims to increase the chances for student athletes to fulfill their potential and accomplish their goals as well as prepare them for campus life.
This lovely couple met…well, I’ll let them tell the story…
Chris: The real story, okay. Well, how we met…we met at my cousin’s wedding reception which is actually one of Erika’s sorors.
I was at the wedding and I saw Erika from afar (I did not know her name at the time). And she was sitting with one of her friends, and didn’t seem to have a date or anybody with her. So, whenever I could get my cousin’s attention, I asked her, ‘who is THAT over there?’ I pointed in the direction and she told me who she was and I told her she had to introduce me to her. So as time went on, my cousin finally introduced her…I think she pulled Erika, didn’t she pull you…?
Erika: Yes, and told me I was not allowed to leave until I met her cousin because she was not going to live it down if I left and we did not meet
Chris: So, I finally met her and I walked her to her vehicle. I could tell she was kind of skeptical. I think she reluctantly exchanged numbers because I was the cousin [of her soror]. I think that was the only reason why she gave it to me.
Erika: Well, I wasn’t interested in dating anybody at the time and just as he said, I was getting ready to leave…literally, I mean I had my purse and I was headed towards the door and getting ready to kiss his cousin goodbye and she said, ‘Oh no, no you can’t go yet’. So she literally stopped me as I was on my way to my car. but I gave him my information because like he said, he was her cousin.
He had been travelling overseas coaching football and we kept in contact via telephone for the most part and snail mail—by postcards, which was cool. I just thought we were becoming real good friends and I liked it that way. We saw each other maybe twice at the most in that six month period. Until I invited him to dinner, it was New Year’s Eve and I don’t know what made me invite him to dinner but I did.
Chris: Yes, during that time, let me clarify: we only saw each other two times, but that wasn’t my fault. I wanted to see her. She was usually busy, but I was trying my best to see her more than those two occasions.
Erika: I invited my cousin and her kids to go with us because I could tell he really liked me, but I wasn’t really interested in a relationship. I met him in July, he asked me in September if we could date exclusively, and I told him I wasn’t looking to date anybody right now. And he didn’t bug me about it, he just continued to be my friend. Sometimes it can be awkward especially when you tell a guy you’re not interested in him. They either don’t call anymore or they bring it up all the time. He did neither.
BMWK: Is that when she asked you to go out for dinner, Chris?
Chris: Yes, she asked me for dinner, she wanted to go to a restaurant, am I correct?
Erika: Yep, uh huh!
Chris: We met up at Houston’s so I thought to myself, New Year’s Eve, we’re going out to dinner, this is huge! You know what I mean? So we meet up at Houston’s, had a great dinner, great conversation. The moment when I knew that she was going to be my woman was when she ordered dessert—it was a pecan pie, right? With ice cream!
Erika: No, it was like an apple cobbler with ice cream.[laughs]
Chris: So it was apple cobbler with ice cream, and she was eating it, and she was like, ‘Oh this is so good!’ She was just telling me how great it was and she wanted me to taste it. So she got her fork that she was using and she leaned over and told me to taste it with her fork! And I tasted it and I said YES! That was it! That was the turning point: when she let me eat off of her fork.
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