Never underestimate the resolve of a high school sweetheart.
Jamaal Fudge and Michelle Gibbs didn't formally meet until their senior year at Ed White High School in 2001. But Michelle had watched the shy, handsome football standout for months, especially in the cafeteria.
"I loved seeing him inhale his lunch, as if it was going to get up and run," said Michelle, laughing. "He was serious about his chicken nuggets."
One day, Michelle - who also describes herself as shy - approached Jamaal.
"I went up to him and I said: 'I just want you to know I like you,' " Michelle, now 25, recalled. "Then I ran away."
Jamaal didn't know what to think. "She ran off before I could say anything."
But he answered back a few days later when he inscribed a football card to Michelle, signing it: "Your friend, Jamaal."
The two soon became inseparable, spending the rest of their senior year and the summer before college together.
In the fall, Jamaal, now 26, left to play football at Clemson. Michelle went to the University of Central Florida and FAMU, where she majored in biology.
The two stayed together several years, but the physical distance between them took its toll. Both eventually started dating other people. But they remained friends, keeping in touch with e-mails and phone calls. And they always saw each other during the summer back home in Jacksonville.
Jamaal returned to Jacksonville in 2006 to play special teams and back-up safety with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Michelle and Jamaal started seeing more of each other, but only as friends. Then Jamaal hit Michelle with a bombshell: He was getting serious about his girlfriend from Clemson, who had gotten a job up North.
"And that's when I got really scared. I thought I was going to lose him forever," Michelle said.
But Michelle grabbed hold of Jamaal's heart and wouldn't let go. The soft-spoken Jamaal explained it this way: "I prayed, and I talked with my mother," said Jamaal. In the end, he decided to marry Michelle.
The two said "I do" April 25 at The Lodge in Ponte Vedra. Jamaal is now a safety for the Atlanta Falcons, and Michelle will attend a chiropractic school in Atlanta this fall.
Jamaal's cousin, Marvette Tooks, says she thinks it was a good thing they both tried dating other people because they were both so young when they first met. As Marvette put it, "We always knew they'd end up back together." Read the original article here: http://jacksonville.com/lifestyles/relationships/2009-05-31/story/i_do_i_do_high_school_sweethearts_find_each_other
Photo by La Dolce Vita Studio (www.LaDolceVitaStudio.com)