As the minutes tick down to half time, Aaron Hayden is getting nervous. The 34 year-old had been planning this surprise proposal for a month, while struggling to keep his girlfriend, Jocelyn Hayes, unaware.
"At first I was poised, but the closer it gets the more nervous I'm getting,” Hayden said.
Hayden proposed to his girlfriend during the halftime game of Florida A&M’s men's basketball game.
Hayden said he met Hayes at a church concert in may of 2009. They talked after the concert and became friends. The two dated briefly before ending their relationship.
"At some point we both decided we had to stop,” Hayden said.
The two remained mutual friends and reunited a year later working for the community outreach program Generation Now Ministries. Hayden now serves as the technical director of the Lawson center; Hayes works for the department of health in Crawfordville.
“We joined the ministry at the same time,” Hayes said. “We've both been in Generation now for five years, we would see each other all the time.”
Hayden said the ministry helped him fall back in love with Hayes. However, she didn’t feel the same; the two resumed dating fall of 2015.
"It didn't take long for me to redevelop those same feelings I had, but it took a while to convince her to have them back,” Hayden said.
They had been dating for three months when Hayden decided to ask her to marry him. He enlisted Hayes’ family and FAMU athletics staff to put his plan in motion. The day of the proposal would also be their four month anniversary.
"I think she kind of expected me to ask her, but she never knew when it would happen," Hayden said.
It is halftime, and the FAMU Rattler mascot pulls Hayes to center court. Hayden walked out to meet her, playing his saxophone; He gets down on one knee and proposes. To the joy of the crowd, Hayes said yes.
“I was like ‘what is going on’, my best friend is in town, people are telling me they want to come to the FAMU game, and then the Rattler comes to dance with me,” Hayes said. "I feel surprised, special, and loved.”
The surprise proposal went smoothly and the new couple is met with congratulations from their families and onlookers. Virginia Lawrence, a FAMU alumna, saw the proposal and wished the couple well.
“I thought it was great,” Lawrence said. My husband and I just celebrated 50 years, so I wish them luck.”
The couple is not sure what the future will hold for them, but they plan to meet it together.
"I don't know,” Hayes said. “I’m excited by the future and what’s to come. It’s all about the journey.”