Shaquille Leonard And His Girlfriend-Turned-Wife Knew Each Other Since Kindergarten: Relationship, Wedding Plans & Kids

Shaquille Leonard And His Wife Kayla Leonard Pictured At The NFL Honors Ceremony In 2023

Shaquille Leonard proposed to his girlfriend, Kayla Sanderson, in 2017 and asked her to be his wife. Kayla Sanderson went from being a childhood crush of the NFL player to his wife and now mother of his three kids.

Kayla and Shaquille grew up in the same community and studied at the same school. They graduated from Lake View High School, and even during college, they remained unseparated from each other.

Shaquille Leonard Pictured With His Wife, Kayla Leonard And Their Daughter, Mia, At Their Wedding Ceremony In 2019
Shaquille Leonard Pictured With His Wife, Kayla Leonard And Their Daughter, Mia, At Their Wedding Ceremony In 2019 (Source: Instagram)

The couple tied the knot in 2018 and moved to Indianapolis after the Colts drafted the linebacker in the second round. The couple welcomed their two kids in Indianapolis and even established a foundation.

But the linebacker decided to move to Philadelphia and play for the Eagles during the 2023 mid-season. He signed a one-year deal with the Eagles on December 4, 2023.

But now, Leonard, 28, is without a team. During his charity’s recent event, the linebacker said he is waiting for the opportunity to present itself and is more focused on getting his body healthy.

Kayla Sanderson Became Shaquille Leonard Girlfriend During High School

In 2011, Shaquille Leonard and his girlfriend, Kayla Leonard, probably didn’t think they would make it this far. Today, the couple is parents to three kids.

Shaquille and Kayala grew up in Lake View, South Carolina, in a town with less than 800 people. For Leonard, it was love at first sight. They saw each other for the first time when they were five and were in kindergarten.

Shaquille Proposed To Longtime Crush, Kayla Sanderson In 2017 On His Senior Day
Shaquille Proposed To Longtime Crush, Kayla Sanderson In 2017 On His Senior Day (Source: Instagram)

In an interview with the Colts’ website, Shaquille said he was mesmerized by Kayla’s blue eyes. He said it was the most beautiful pair of eyes he had ever seen.

As they grew older together, Shaquille finally dared to ask her out. The two were in sixth grade, and the future NFL player received his first rejection.

But five years later, it was Shaquille who won in love. The footballer said when they were in 11th grade, Kayla told him she wanted them to be together. In his interview, Shaquille said, “She came back begging. Make sure you put that in there.”

Who Is Shaquille Leonard’s Wife, Kayla Leonard?

A childhood crush of the former Colts player, Kayla Leonard, was born Kayla Sanderson. A Lake View High School graduate, Kayla’s fierce and competitive nature was one of the things that allured Shaquille towards her.

Kayla didn’t miss the opportunity to use her fierce nature on the field, as she played multiple sports. During her time at Lake View, Kayla played softball, basketball, and volleyball and was a triple threat.

Kayla’s dad, Timmy Sanderson, is also a Lake View High School graduate and has shared a couple of pictures with his daughter on his Facebook handle.

In 2013, during her senior year at Lake View, Kayla signed a letter of intent to play softball at Florence-Darlington Tech. A year later, Kayla had made it to the Morning News All-Pee Dee team after hitting .477 with 22 RBI.

In her senior year, she averaged .480 with eight RBI. Her coach, Brandy Huggins, complimented Kayla’s competitiveness and talked about her leadership quality on the field.

Kayla Pictured Attending Shaquille's Game At The Lucas Oil Stadium
Kayla Pictured Attending Shaquille’s Game At The Lucas Oil Stadium (Source: Instagram)

However, after completing her first year at Florence-Darlington, Kayla transferred to Claflin University. Kayla continued her softball career at Claflin and ended her athletic career in 2017, averaging .256 in 49 games played.

After graduating from Claflin, Kayla began working as a ninth-grade algebra teacher. After her marriage to Shaquille, Kayla became a full-time homemaker.

She is available on Instagram and has shared several family photos. Her first Instagram photo, uploaded in 2012, is that of her and Shaquille.

Her Instagram account is like a time capsule of their love story. From falling in love as teenagers to becoming parents to three kids, Kayla and Shaquille have made their love last.

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Shaquille And Kayla Tied The Knot In 2018

After graduating from Lake View, if Kayla went to Florence, Shaquille enrolled at South Carolina State to pursue his NFL dreams.

Distance wasn’t the problem for the two as Claflin and South Carolina State only have a fence to separate them. At South Carolina State, Leonard established himself as an NFL prospect.

Shaquille even won the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year in his senior season, an honor he had previously won in his sophomore year.

On his senior day in November 2017, Shaquille called Kayla to the middle of the field. And right there and then, in front of a large crowd, Darius went down on one knee as he asked Kayla, “Will you marry me?”

Shaquille And Kayla Tied The Knot In Courthouse In 2018 Before Moving To Indianapolis
Shaquille And Kayla Tied The Knot In Courthouse In 2018 Before Moving To Indianapolis (Source: Instagram)

Soon after their engagement, Shaquille headed to Tampa to practice for the NFL Draft. A couple that had spent all their lives together, the distance became a hurdle for the newly engaged couple.

On draft day, Shaquille returned to South Carolina and rented a house in Myrtle Beach. A second-round pick, Shaquille was headed to Indianapolis.

But he didn’t want to leave for Indianapolis alone. Shaquille wanted to take Kayla with him. So, the two went to a courthouse and officially became Mr. and Mrs. Leonard.

On their first anniversary in 2019, Kayla shared a photo of their wedding ceremony at the courthouse. Shaquille wore a Colts t-shirt and Jordan shorts, and Kayla was in her work clothes when they became husband and wife.

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Kayla Has Three Kids With The NFL Player

A few months after their courthouse wedding, Kayla showed up at Shaquille’s training without notice. Kayla had come to Shaquille’s training camp a day after his birthday.

At first, the linebacker was upset that his wife had forgotten his birthday and kept nagging her. He even refused to open the gift that Kayla had brought him.

But after much convincing, Leonard opened the box only to find out he was about to become a dad. Kayla had kept the positive pregnancy kit and a baby t-shirt that said, “Hello! Daddy.”

The couple’s first child, Mia Gabrielle Leonard, was born on March 28, 2019. Three months after Mia was born, the couple remarried at their real wedding ceremony.

Shaquille Leonard And Kayla Leonard Pictured With Their Two Daughters At The Lucas Oil Stadium
Shaquille Leonard And Kayla Leonard Pictured With Their Two Daughters At The Lucas Oil Stadium (Source: Instagram)

Kayla always wanted a big wedding, and Shaquille knew that, and the football player made it happen. Shaquille said, “I wanted to show that she’s the one and deserves everything and let her have as big a wedding as she wanted. I let her plan everything out.”

Their close friends, family, and many of Shaquille’s current and former teammates attended the wedding ceremony held at Hilton Myrtle Beach Resort.

In November 2020, Kayla revealed the couple was expecting their second child. They had a gender reveal ceremony, and Kayla shared pictures of Shaquille and Mia cranking the confetti cannons with pink confetti dispersing in the air.

The couple’s second child, Laila Quinn Leonard, was born on June 6, 2021. In recent years, Kayla has shared several pictures of her and their two daughters attending Shaquille’s games.

On December 11, 2023, the footballing couple revealed they were gearing up to become parents for the third time. On April 12, the mother-of-two had a cowboy-themed pregnancy photoshoot.

Finally, on May 22, 2024, the couple welcomed Darius Shquille Leonard Jr. into the world. Since then, Kayla hasn’t shared any photographs on her Instagram handle.

But it isn’t as if the couple is laying low. Shaquille and Kayla recently attended the Maniac Care event. The couple established The Maniac Foundation in 2020 to help the Indianapolis community through wellness, education, and serving families requiring care.

From reading celebrity blinds to keeping up with scores of all the different sports happening worldwide, Shreeyukta can’t simply have enough of the entertainment world. 

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