2021 has been a year of ups and downs for Kyrie Irving, with one of the latter – a down – happening on Tuesday (Oct. 12). Sean Marks, the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, said that since Kyrie, 29, will not comply with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, he will not practice or play with the team. The vaccine mandate states that anyone entering an indoor gym — and this does include Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden – must have at least one COVID-19 shot, according to ESPN. Kyrie apparently does not and cannot play in 43 regular-season games (41 in Brooklyn, two at Madison Square Garden.) Instead of granting him “part-time availability,” the team decided to bench him. Kyrie will also not be paid for the games he misses.
“Kyrie has made it clear he has a choice in this matter, and it’s ultimately going to be up to him what he decides,” Marks said, per ESPN. “We respect the fact that he has a choice, and he can make his own right to choose. Right now, what’s best for the organization is the path we are taking, and I don’t want to speak for Kyrie. At the right time, I’m sure he will address his feelings and what the path may be for him.”
This low comes nearly three months after he experienced a personal high: he became a father for the second time. He and his fiancée Marlene “Golden” Wilkerson became the proud parents in June. As Kyrie contemplates his future and apparently prepares to spend the 2021-22 NBA Season at home, here’s what you need to know about his girlfriend.
1. Marlene Wilkerson Is A Popular Blogger/Influencer/Model
Marlene – born in 1993, per Clutch Points – is an Instagram Model and an influencer. As of October 2021, she has over 400k Instagram Followers and over 730k subscribers on her YouTube page. Her YouTube page. While her earlier posts and videos deal with fashion, fitness, and beauty, her recent output focused more on pregnancy and babies. And that’s because…
2. Marlee Gave Birth To Her & Kyrie’s First Baby In July
Kyrie and Marlene welcomed their first baby together in June 2021, per PEOPLE. In a YouTube video titled “Our Pregnancy Journey,” Marlene showed off moments throughout her pregnancy, including a maternity photoshoot. The video also showed that Marlene had a water birth, with the new mom seen going into labor in a bathtub. A message at the end of the video reads: “A dedication to indigenous women to reclaim their bodies and heal our lineage through [sacred] natural birth. May you find your way to that inner knowing. May we educate, empower and assist each other through the sacred journey of becoming and being a Mother.”
This is Kyrie’s second child. He is also a dad to daughter Azurie Elizabeth, 6, from a previous relationship.
3. Marlene Reportedly Began Dating Kyrie In 2018…
Marlene has been romantically linked to soccer star Layvin Kurzawa and basketball player Dexter Strickland, per Clutch Points. It’s possible that she and Kyrie met before they dated since he played basketball with Dexter at St. Patrick High School. It’s unclear when they first began dating, but the two were first seen publicly in 2018 when they attended Kyrie’s Invitational.
4. …And They Reportedly Got Engaged The Next Year
Kyrie and Marlene sparked engagement rumors in 2019 when she was spotted with a giant diamond ring around her finger. Kyrie and Marlene – who was still going by “Golden” – were out and about in New York City when paparazzi photographed her new piece of bling. The paps congratulated the couple on the engagement…which they didn’t deny, per TMZ Sports.
5. She and Kyrie Are Private With Their Relationship
A year after Marlene debuted that rock on her finger, she reportedly stopped following Kyrie on Instagram. He also stopped following her, but if there was any drama, they patched it up. In August 2021, he posted a photo of them together. “KALM energy. KALM presence. KALM in love. My Ankh,” he captioned the shot. A day before Kyrie’s post, Marlene shared one of her own. “Walking through the Lions gate,” she captioned the IG photo of her, still pregnant, holding hands with Kyrie. “Child of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and Stars.”