Gina Neely and Pat Neely both attended Melrose High School in Memphis, Tennessee. When they met for the first time during their sophomore year, Pat Neely recalled in the book Down Home with the Neelys that he was truly mesmerized by his former counterpart: “I don’t believe I opened my mouth. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I am sure Gina was thinking, ‘Can he talk?'”
A couple of years after that meeting, the two started dating, however, that lasted only a while. “We graduated and parted ways — I went off to college to pursue my football dreams, and Gina moved to California to live with her older sister and attend college,” Pat Neely writes in the book.
Both carried on with their lives and married other people in the 10 years that they were apart. In 1993, when they met again at their ten-year high-school reunion, both, as fate had it, were divorced. Gina Neely had a daughter from her first marriage, and Pat Neely and his family had started their own barbecue restaurant. However, despite the time gap, Pat Neely’s feelings for her were still very much alive. He wrote, “Our reunion was a real reunion. The banquet was the prom we never had.”
After this event, Gina Neely moved back to her hometown from California; and just two years after the big ‘reunion,’ in 1995, the couple got married.