Kelsey Plum on Navigating Long-Distance Marriage with Darren Waller and 'Connecting' Over Holidays (Exclusive)

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The two-time WNBA champion spoke to PEOPLE about gearing up for the holidays with her husband

<p>Ethan Miller/Getty</p> Kelsey Plum and Darren Waller

Ethan Miller/Getty

Kelsey Plum and Darren Waller

The holiday spirit came early for Kelsey Plum this year.

Ever since the Las Vegas Aces player, 29, celebrated her second back-to-back WNBA championship in October, she says she’s been enjoying spending time with family and friends ahead of the holiday season.

In a world where it’s “easy to become disconnected,” the All-Star MVP views Christmas as an opportunity to “reset” and focus on “connecting” with loved ones, including her NFL star husband Darren Waller.

“I just feel super grateful to be able to spend it with people that I love and they love me, and definitely going to make memories and eat a lot of food,” Plum tells PEOPLE.

Related: Kelsey Plum and Darren Waller: All About the Athletes' Relationship

Spreading that joy is part of what motivated the newlywed to team up with DICK’S Sporting Goods to host the sports apparel brand’s first-ever Holiday Shopping Sprint. Together, they were able to surprise one lucky winner with a shopping spree — but with an adrenaline-pumping twist.

After Plum received the winner’s holiday wish list, she had to race against the clock to sprint and grab as many items off the store’s shelves in just 3 minutes. Being able to lift the “big burden” of gift-giving during the holiday season for the winner and her family was something the athlete appreciated.

“She was tremendous,” Plum says of the winner. “She was talking to me the whole time in my headset, so it was a ton of fun.”

Despite being a WNBA player herself, she even recalls having a “little bit of sweat” going on at the end.

“Listen, I took this very seriously,” she continues. “We actually filled up two full carts, so that was pretty cool. I was doing better than the cameraman.”

The partnership comes off the heels of Plum’s second straight WBNA championship, in which the basketball guard supported a 70-69 win against the New York Liberty. The final match’s location at New York City’s Barclay’s Center provided the perfect opportunity for Waller to cheer for her courtside amidst their now-long distance marriage.

Related: Kelsey Plum Admits Winning WNBA Championship Hasn't 'Fully Set In Yet': 'Sometimes I Forget'

After the final buzzer, Plum ran over to Waller, 31, to celebrate, and the lovebirds exchanged a sweet kiss and embrace as cameras caught the moment. Having her mother, brother and several friends in the stands as well made the entire win nothing short of “tremendous.”

<p>Sarah Stier/Getty</p>

Sarah Stier/Getty

“To be honest, those are the people that have gotten me to this point,” she explains. “I’m just super grateful to be able to share that moment with them, and shoot — they were just as excited as I was.”

Related: Las Vegas Aces Party After Winning Back-to-Back WNBA Championships

Long distance has been tough on the basketball star and her husband ever since he was traded from the Las Vegas Raiders to the New York Giants in March, less than a day after returning from their honeymoon. However, putting the “work” into the relationship and “looking in the mirror” has helped strengthen her bonds with everyone in her close circle, Plum says.

“To be honest, putting faith first and answering to something higher than myself is a big way for me to be the best wife, friend, [and] teammate I could be,” she adds. “Just like in basketball, in life, you got to be a great teammate.”

“People don’t always remember what happens, but you remember how you’re treated,” she continues. “That’s not just with Darren, that’s with all the relationships with my life. I try to make sure that I’m treating people with that love and compassion that I want to receive in my relationships.”

<p>Kelsey Plum/Instagram</p>

Kelsey Plum/Instagram

The Giants tight end and the basketball champ tied the knot in Las Vegas’s GreenGale Farms on March 4 after reportedly dating since 2022. After an intimate ceremony and honeymoon, Waller’s sudden trade caught the tight end “off guard.”

Related: Kelsey Plum Calls Out Raiders Coach After Her Husband Darren Waller Is Traded Days After Wedding

Waller spoke to PEOPLE in September about how the couple was handling long-distance.

“It’s not ideal to have the person that you love the most not with on a daily basis, but we make it work,” he tells PEOPLE.

The NFL star said he and Plum "encourage each other" in their respective careers as well as in personal challenges and wellness goals. The couple has "gotten a lot better at just being there for each other," as Waller adjusts to life in New York, he said.

<p>David Becker/NBAE via Getty</p>

David Becker/NBAE via Getty

Thanks to the WNBA season’s conclusion, Plum says she’s been able to make more time for Waller during his NFL schedule, even though “it’s tough.”

“Football season is definitely something that takes full attention, and he’s super focused on that,” Plum says. “I’m jumping a little bit all over, but I definitely try to be there when I can.

“I obviously still love to work even though it’s outside of basketball, different opportunities,” she continues, while giving a nod to her partnerships with DICK’S and Under Armour. “I’m definitely someone that is always on the go, and that’s what I really flourish in and that will probably never change.”

For the upcoming holidays, the athlete says she’s looking forward to one of her favorite, tasty holiday traditions — her mother’s urban maple-glazed bacon on Christmas morning with family.

“We always eat breakfast together, and who doesn’t love scrambled eggs, waffles and bacon?” she says. “Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be around family and friends — and hopefully maybe get out of the cold.”

<p>Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty</p>

Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty

When asked about what she’s grateful for this year, she immediately thinks of the people in her life, her health and the opportunities she’s been given. Of course, she also can’t forget about that second championship, in which she always had confidence her team would win again.

Related: Kelsey Plum and Kevin Hart Discuss Overseas Play, WNBA Pay Gap Disparity: 'Talk is Cheap' – Watch

“Anytime you sign up to play a season, that’s the end goal, right? For our team, I think we have a lot of people that are very hungry and want to win, so that was definitely the goal,” she reflects. “You go through ups and downs and adversity throughout the season, but at the end of the day, we came together at the right time.”

“Listen, we’re not satisfied,” Plum adds. “We’re going to continue to try to push to see how far we can take this.”

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.