In-Depth with Memphis Tiger D.J. Stephens (Part 1)

In-Depth with Memphis Tiger D.J. Stephens (Part 1)

Tigers forward D.J. Stephens will graduate from the University of Memphis on Sunday, but his education doesn't stop there. In terms of becoming a father, it has just begun.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Tigers forward D.J. Stephens will graduate from the University of Memphis on Sunday, but his education doesn't stop there. In terms of becoming a father, it has just begun.

The D.J. Stephens most of us have come to know during the past four years is the high-flying, rim-ratting, gravity-defying Tigers' basketball player who became a Blue-Gray Nation fan favorite.

But you may not be as familiar with the softer side of Stephens. Stacie Payne is, which is why they met in the first place.

Stephens: Somebody asked me to come out to an event at her little brother's school. I didn't know it was her brother at the time.

Payne: So I actually got to see D.J. interact with the kids. I was actually telling my mom, 'That is so cute, so cool. He's a down to earth person.' We actually had a mutual friend who worked with me at the time. She goes, 'I could totally see you guys dating and talking to each other.'

Stephens: Little did I know she was in the stands checking me out. And when I say checking me out, she was checking me out.

The two can now look back on how they met and laugh about it, but what was their mood on January 4th when they got some surprising news?

Payne: The night before they actually played in Knoxville they were away and he was away from me. But I texted D.J. to tell him I was in so much pain. So I texted him during the game to say after the game call me because I need to talk to you.

Stephens: It's like, aw man, what's going on because she told me right before the game I've got to go to the ER. Then I called her and asked what's going on? And Coach Pastner was standing right in front of me. She was like, 'I'm pregnant.'

Payne: And I could see him smiling through the phone. He was surprisingly excited about it.

Stephens: I said okay, I may not be ready to be a father right now but I can get ready. I still have time. She's six weeks. So I've still got nine months. I've got nine months to get ready.

The baby is due early September and Stephens knows the gender, but he's not telling. His energy is focused on preparing to be a good father.

Payne: People wouldn't believe how already involved he is with our kid. We do everything together from picking the invitations, he wants say in that. What type of candy we are going to have? He's really hands-on surprisingly but I'm grateful for that.

Stephens: My dad was a great father to me and I want to be a better father than he was. I tell myself I want to get the best father of the year award - every year. And I just want to be the best father I can possibly be.

We'll have much more on Stephens Thursday night when he addresses his future on the basketball court.

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