They say nothing really ever happens by chance.
That the way two people meet…
Or the circumstances that brought them together…
Or the instant connection they share…
It’s not by chance- but by f a t e – and I couldn’t agree more.
That destined day back in 2013, when Mike and I met seems like a million years ago some days, and yet I still remember it like it was yesterday.
At the time he was at Texas A&M and I was attending Blinn Junior College, still trying to figure this thing called life out. It could have been like any other normal college day: friends getting together, meeting new people, hanging out and having fun.
But it wasn’t any normal day… it was the day I would meet the love of my life.
Our connection was intense from the moment we met: I’m talking butterflies + fireworks— the real deal.
We quickly realized that we shared so many of the same interests, one of them being going to the movies, so obviously it was a no-brainer to make that our first date. From that point on we spent every minute we could together, hanging out with our friends, seeing movies and going to Northgate.
And then football season started.
Of course I had heard how amazing Mike was- I mean, people literally stopped and asked him for a picture everywhere we went– but it wasn’t until I saw him play with my own two eyes that I was truly blown away.
He had such natural skill at Wide Receiver that he made it look almost easy! The chemistry he had on the field with his quarterback and good friend Johnny Manziel, his talent, and obvious love for the game was so impressive to watch!
I loved going to every one of his games, cheering him on, being there to support him- but it was the game that I finally got to meet his daughter Mackenzie that will forever hold my heart. It was a game against Auburn and his mom brought Mackenzie to watch her Daddy play- and WOW, did he play for his little girl! As it turned out, that game would be one of his best college career games ever and she was there to watch it all.
Meeting his daughter, spending that time with her, and seeing who Mike was as a father brought this whole new kind of love for him that I never knew existed.
What I DIDN’T know was that Mike’s college career was about to be over! He entered the 2014 NFL Draft and was drafted the overall 7th pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
How incredibly crazy/beautiful it was to watch the moment he was drafted- I almost remember it like it was yesterday.
It was such an anxious moment for everyone… so many mixed emotions and so many nerves… yet a lot of excitement! I remember the moment Mike got the phone call sitting at the round table, it was such an emotional moment for him, + then they called his name and it became real! He was holding Mackenzie and just thinking about how blessed he was to be in that position. It was incredible.
And that was that: we packed up and moved to Tampa… new town, new home, new team.
That first year in the NFL was crazy! We learned so much about each other and ourselves… and HELLO, remember, we were only 20!
But you live and you learn and you love and you grow… that’s life, right?!
So there we were later in 2014, it’s almost my birthday and Christmas is (TOO QUICKLY) approaching. All I wanted to do was plan the P E R F E C T Christmas for Mackenzie and our families. It was so important to me to welcome them into our home and make this an unforgettable experience for everyone.
We celebrated Christmas a few days ahead because the truth is that life in the NFL doesn’t always mean being there for the holidays, but making the most of the time you do have.
Sooo… again, there we were enjoying everyone’s company, exchanging gifts and loving this time together. After everyone finished opening their gifts Mike hands me one more gift to open… in the shape of a shoe box.
If you know me at all, you know how excited I was… and if you know my husband at all, you know it “probably” wasn’t just any pair of shoes.
I unwrapped the box and immediately see it’s none other than a box from Christian Louboutin… eekkk! Inside was THE cutest pair of blue Pigalle’s.
But that wasn’t all…
My eye quickly saw a smaller blue box from Tiffanys inside- and at that point I’m ecstatic thinking that I’m about to get new earrings too- but everyone gets super quiet.
Like waiting to hear a pin drop kinda quiet.
I’m staring at the blue box, hardly realizing that Mike is getting down on one knee right.in.front.of.me.
He takes the box from me….
And he asks, “Ashli Nicole Dotson, I have one question, will you marry me?”
Half crying/ half screaming I say “YES!”… and then cry and cry and cry.
It was absolutely beautiful and perfect: surrounded by our family, everyone in the holiday spirit and me completely surprised. To this day Mike says it was one of the most nervous days of his life… but like always, he does an amazing job.
We immediately set the date and I got to planning the wedding of a lifetime.
On February 13th, 2016 we had the dream wedding I had always hoped for… but that’s a story for another time…