In late September, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Will Davis
announced he and his girlfriend
are expecting their first child. Under any circumstances, this would be a remarkable, life-changing announcement. Yet for this particular couple, the path to the announcement was even more extraordinary.
Lisa Mason is a well-known former Olympic gymnast from Great Britain. She won two gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. In her post-gymnastics career, she has worked as a coach, choreographer, stunt double and model. She is also Davis' partner and mother-to-be of his first daughter.
So how exactly does a fourth-year NFL cornerback even meet someone like Mason?
"With social media these days, you can almost reach anybody in the world," Davis said. "I have friends [in Great Britain], so, of course, somehow, someway -- she's well known, especially in the UK -- she pops up on my [Internet] Explorer. Of course, she's a beautiful woman.
"I didn't get introduced to her through a friend or nothing like that. It was [just] this hot chick on Instagram. She liked me, it's all she wrote. It's crazy."
Let me get this straight: Davis finds an attractive woman on social media, reaches out to introduce himself, and, instead of being shot down, embarrassed or ignored (like so many others might), shortly thereafter, the couple is building a life together? Crazy is an understatement. Was he at all afraid that, like so many other athletes who have attempted to "slide into the DMs," he was going to be blasted all over social media?
"I think there is some comfort in knowing she was an athlete herself," Davis said. "I think that was the main thing. I wasn't afraid [of] it."
As it turns out, it actually worked against him.
"I generally get quite a lot of athletes trying to contact me," Mason said. "Being in sport, I kind of know what they're like, so I kind of just ignore them.
"If anything, I'm probably more worried about getting into conversations with male athletes than I am a normal person."
So what was different this time?
"I think it was just his banter," Mason said. "He's a cheeky guy. As we say over here, he's got the gift of the gab. He made me laugh a lot; he'd come out with some quality little one-liners. It was more his personality that got me -- although, obviously, I was very aware he's a very good-looking guy. It was definitely more his banter and his one-liners that got me."
It took a little bit more than just cheeky one-liners. The couple exchanged numbers and began FaceTiming regularly from separate continents. Mason estimates their first FaceTime session lasted about three hours. With Davis having friends in London, he decided to suggest the duo actually meet in person.
"So originally, it was just like, 'Man, I'm headed out there; it'd be dope [to meet in person],'" Davis said. "We're talking, chatting and she invited me out there this last Christmas. I was on [injured reserve due to a torn ACL], didn't have much to do, so I took a trip out to the UK. I went there all the time, so I wasn't too afraid -- I had friends [to visit], just in case things didn't go well."
Mason wanted to meet, despite others wondering if she was making a mistake.
"It sounds so corny, [but] it was just like I had known him for ages," Mason said. "Even my friends, when I invited him over for Christmas, my friends were like, 'What the hell? I've known you for 10 years; you have never even invited me for Christmas! What's going on?" But I don't know. It's just something about him. It was just a really weird connection I'd not really had with anyone I guess. He felt the same.
"A couple of my friends were very skeptical. They were like, 'You met him on social media, Lisa, what are you doing?' I was like, 'I know, I know.' I don't pay attention to that stuff generally."
The couple spent the offseason getting to know each other better while traveling to places like Italy and Mexico. Mason came to Baltimore this summer, and returned to the UK just before the Ravens' game against the New York Giants Oct. 16. They plan on having their daughter born in the UK ("I wanted that," Davis said), and then settling in the U.S. next summer, after Davis' football future is settled in free agency.
There have been some humorous cultural differences to pop up during the course of the relationship.
"American football, I don't have a clue about," Mason said. "I'm still trying to figure it out. The first game I went to see, I was like, 'Babe, do you get hit or do you hit people?' He just rolled his eyes at me."
"There's so much UK slang," Davis said.
"She'd say, 'Are you taking a piss?'" Davis said. "Which is really, 'Are you playing with me? Are you joking with me?'"
"That means someone's messing with you," Mason said. "He likes to mess with me all the time and wind me up. When we were first getting to know each other, I was like, 'Are you taking a piss?' And he's like, 'What? I'm not taking a piss. Why would I be taking a piss right now?'
"I was like, 'No, are you taking a piss
out on me?' And he was like, 'Why would I want to take your piss?' He was like, 'What are you talking about?' I was like, 'What are you talking about?'"
Mason is also worried about her next trip to Baltimore.
"I'm going to be out there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'll be celebrating my first Thanksgiving. So I've got to learn how to cook American Thanksgiving food. I'm not sure what [Americans] eat. But I've got to do that."
Despite speaking to PressBox from separate continents altogether, the duo was in lockstep. Next up? Picking the baby's name. But there is one thing Davis has already figured out.
"She'll laugh about this," Davis said. "The minute we started getting close, I was like, 'Honestly, this child would be gifted. Her mom's an Olympic gymnast, her dad played in the NFL.' Her mom is probably going to want that gymnast life, but me, I'm probably going to want her in soccer, because I'm a big soccer fan. I think, definitely -- a college scholarship -- we won't have to worry about that. She'll be good."