Jrue Holiday is catching football fever

July, 14, 2011
07/14/11
2:01
PM ET

FRANKFURT, Germany -- It usually seems like Steve Nash is the only NBA player who turns up at soccer matches. But at this Women's World Cup, a new fan has arrived -- the Philadelphia 76ers' Jrue Holiday, who also happens to be Lauren Cheney's boyfriend.

"The games have been unreal, these are my first international games," Holiday said. "I wasn't really much of a soccer fan before, I was more of a Lauren Cheney fan."

But for every game Team USA has played in Germany, Holiday's been decked out in USA duds with his brother and cousin, who have been following the team as it continues its quest for the World Cup. "They're like little kids cheering and all dressed up for the games," Cheney said. "It's great to have them here. Since his season's been over, he's around a lot more. He loves the game. It's awesome to see how excited he gets."

The athletic twosome met at UCLA, where Cheney played soccer and Holiday played basketball for a year before going pro. Said Cheney: "He was sitting in front of me at a girl's basketball game and someone came up to him and said, 'Oh my gosh, Darren Collison. Can I get your autograph?' And I started laughing because it was hilarious. Once they walked away I said, 'Don't worry about it, you're way cuter than Darren Collison.' But it was kind of just a joke. I wasn't really interested at all."

Cheney said she kind of felt bad for him at the time. Once she and Holliday left UCLA, they started dating. "I played basketball until my senior year of high school," she said. "I actually used to play all the time at UCLA and I'd play with Jrue, but we haven't exactly gotten to the point where he's playing soccer yet."

That may change after the tournament. "Watching the games is amazing," Holiday said. "It's exhilarating, emotionally draining, overwhelming … I'm inspired to do anything after seeing them play."

Jaime Lowe played AYSO soccer for eleven years and never scored a goal. She still loves the sport. She has written for ESPN the Magazine and is the author of Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB (Faber & Faber) and a contributor to Fathers & Daughters & Sports (Random House).

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