Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts accepts the award for AP defensive rookie of the year at the 8th Annual NFL Honors on Feb. 2, 2019, in Atlanta. Paul Abell/Invision for NFL/AP Images

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard wanted to make a fan happy by giving away a game-worn item, however, he never meant to be quite so generous.

Included in the gloves Leonard tossed into the Lucas Oil Stadium stands Sunday after a home win over the Minnesota Vikings was his wedding ring.

That might have had the 2018 NFL AP defensive rookie of the year asking around Monday, “Does anyone know where a certain symbol of my lifetime commitment is?” Fortunately for Leonard, he heard an “I do.”

The happy news came, at least publicly, from a sports journalist related to the young Colts fan who caught Leonard’s gloves. Tyler Brooke shared a photo on Twitter of his step-nephew wearing Leonard’s No. 53 jersey while proudly holding the memorabilia, and he asked for help in reuniting the ring with its rightful owner.

Brooke got a reply from Leonard himself, who added several crying-with-laughter emoji in tweeting, “I need that.”

Brooke subsequently tweeted that he believed the matter was being handled, and NFL Network reported that the ring “is en route back to (Leonard) in Indianapolis.”

A spokesman for the Colts did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Leonard, 25, was married to his high school sweetheart, Kayla Leonard, a couple of weeks after the Colts made him a second-round pick out of South Carolina State in 2018. The two go back to their childhoods – in a small town in South Carolina, site of their first meeting – Leonard told the Colts’ website last year, “I was probably 5 or 6.” The team posted evidence, showing Darius and the then-taller Kayla standing side-by-side in a kindergarten class photo.

The romantic element took some time, though, with Leonard telling the Colts that Kayla “turned me down” in the sixth grade before warming to him in the 11th grade.

Leonard was attracted by her “beautiful eyes” and the fact that Kayla was “a baller” who excelled in softball, basketball and volleyball. Kayla wound up playing softball at Claflin University, the campus of which abuts S.C. State, allowing them to easily carry their relationship into their college years.

By his senior year, the two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference defensive player of the year was on his way to becoming the sixth Bulldogs player drafted in the second round or higher. He wanted Kayla with him on his journey, so he proposed to her in the middle of S.C. State’s field while he was being honored on Senior Day. Once he was a member of the Colts, they wasted no time tying the knot, doing so in a ceremony so informal that they were both in the clothes they wore at their jobs that day – she as a schoolteacher and he, of course, as a linebacker.

“I got officially married in some South Carolina State shorts, a Colts T-shirt and some Jordan retros,” Leonard told colts.com last year. “I didn’t think we would go up there and do a ceremony. But the pictures are funny. We had a great time.”

A daughter, Mia, arrived last year. She ended up serving as the flower girl for another marriage ceremony v this one much more traditional and well-attended – between her parents.

“I always wanted a big wedding and he knew I wanted a big wedding. So, he made it happen,” Kayla said on social media last year.

By that time, Leonard had made a major splash as a rookie, and he went on to earn Pro Bowl honors after the 2019 season. In July, ESPN ranked him as the fourth-best off-ball linebacker in the NFL, after polling several dozen league executives, scouts, coaches and players.


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