While we certainly know tons about the 6-foot-3 combo guard, the public doesn’t really have much about his better half. CJ McCollum certainly embraces his celebrity status as a professional athlete, but he does prefer to keep his private life away from the public eye.
In fact, this is the reason why the 2016 NBA Most Improved Player winner prefers to keep his romantic relationship on the down low:
“They know everything, they know if you have a girlfriend. They know what color your dog is and everything,” CJ once said about fans and some members of the media invading his privacy.
A man’s greatest TREASURE is his wife- She is a gift from the lord .
~Proverbs 18:22~ pic.twitter.com/bxjfXy8WB0
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) October 29, 2020
Apart from posting pictures of them together here and there, CJ doesn’t really talk much about Elise. The new Mrs. McCollum also prefers to keep a low profile and doesn’t really grab headlines much like the other WAGS of other big-time NBA superstars. Elise even has her Instagram set on private, but still has quite the following with 30,000 followers as of writing.
Elise Esposito does deserve some limelight after her beautiful wedding with CJ McCollum. Let’s get to know more about the wife of the 29-year-old Blazers star shooting guard.
Elise and CJ McCollum met at Lehigh University
Before forming one of the league’s most lethal backcourts alongside Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum paid his dues as an unheralded collegiate player for the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks. Apart from giving him a quality education and a platform to showcase his basketball skills, Lehigh also paved the way for CJ to meet his future spouse.
CJ McCollum spent four years at the Pennsylvania-based institution, where Esposito also graduated with a B.A. in Behavioral Science. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2013 and returned to Lehigh for a Master’s Degree in Engineering.
The lovely pair has been together since their collegiate days, and their relationship blossomed as CJ McCollum reached the NBA. They returned to their beloved alma mater last March to watch McCollum’s No. 3 jersey get retired by Lehigh’s basketball program. Elise was very proud:
“All of the love he received, it was really cool,” Esposito said of CJ McCollum’s accomplishment, per the school’s publication Brown and White. “It’s crazy, I think we always knew he was going to accomplish a lot. It is just amazing to see how much he has accomplished. I am very proud of him.”
It was certainly a special moment for the couple.
Elise is a full-fledged Doctor of Dental Surgery
After obtaining multiple degrees from different fields in college and grad school, Esposito found her true calling in dentistry. She started as a dental assistant from 2005 to 2016 under her father Michael Esposito — who happens to be another award-winning dentist. After learning the ropes from the best, Elise pursued the field full-time and enrolled at the prestigious Columbia University College of Dental Medicine as a Doctor of Dental Surgery candidate:
— 𝘽𝙡𝙖𝙯𝙚𝙧 𝙂𝙖𝙣𝙜 (@Blazer_Gang) August 17, 2016
She earned her doctorate this year and now lists herself as Elise McCollum, D.D.S on Instagram.
CJ McCollum proposed to Elise in New York in 2018
After years of getting to know each other, CJ McCollum finally popped the question in September 2018 while the pair were on a boat sailing around New York City. CJ shared photos of his lovely proposal on social media, where the happy couple exchanged big smiles with the Statue of Liberty in the background:
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) September 23, 2018
Turns out, two other former Blazers players got engaged around the same time, with CJ McCollum joining ex-teammates Nik Stauskas and Jake Layman. It is worth noting that McCollum enjoyed his best statistical year in the 2018 playoffs right around the time of his engagement. McCollum recorded career-high marks of 25.3 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and 1.3 steals that year.
Elise is a staple at Blazers games
It’s not new for girlfriends and wives of NBA players to be regulars in the stands at NBA games. Esposito’s dedication to her husband, however, is indeed admirable since she attends as many Blazers home games as possible. This despite spending her recent years living in New York for her studies at Columbia. CJ McCollum also flew there to visit her when his schedule permitted.
Esposito’s residence sparked some speculation from fans who claimed McCollum might prefer the Knicks or Nets to be closer to Elise. However, she’s now working in Oregon after her graduation from Columbia, and both CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard have been vocal about being loyal to the Blazers franchise.