It’s Maternity March Madness for basketball sideline reporter Allie LaForce.
LaForce, who is married to MLB pitcher and free agent Joe Smith learned Wednesday that she’s expecting the couple’s first child after a three-year journey to conceive.
“It’s very exciting,” she told The Post. “The world stopped when I got the news.”
LaForce, 33 who miscarried last summer, is four weeks along and remains cautiously optimistic.
“In late March we’ll hear the heartbeat. If that happens that will be further than last time. I will be really relieved,” said LaForce.
The couple has been radically transparent about their road to conception which has a complicating factor: an incurable genetic disease. Smith’s mother Lee and his maternal grandmother both succumbed to Huntington’s disease, a complicated neurodegenerative disorder that affects patients’ movements, cognitive abilities and psychiatric state.
LaForce interviewing LeBron James at the NBA All-Star Game last month.Jim Poorten
It is hereditary, which means Smith, 37 has a 50 percent chance of having the disease. If he does have it (he has declined to undergo predictive testing because he doesn’t want to know), he’ll pass on those same odds to any offspring. In 2019, the sports power couple revealed to The Post that they were undergoing PGD-IVF or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to conceive “Huntington’s free” children.
Since then, the sideline reporter for “NBA on TNT” has been an open book as she crisscrosses the country for games. She posts Instagram videos injecting herself with hormones on the road — including in airplane bathrooms. Messages of support have poured in from fellow baseball wives, athletes and everyday folks.
“I even get advice. One NBA player told me to try heating up the progesterone oil before the injection,” she said. “In the NBA bubble, an assistant coach came up in tears telling me his wife was doing IVF and felt alone and thanked me for being an advocate.”
The broadcaster said such messages were greatly appreciated. “The encouragement means the world to me. It really helps me get through the process.”
LaForce in 2019, at the start of her PGD-IVF journey.Annie Wermiel
The couple also launched Help Cure HD, which gives couples affected by Huntington’s disease grants to undergo the PGD-IVF. A round can costs upward of $12,000. So far, nearly 70 families are in the program and 16 healthy babies have been born.
“I’ve had couples tell us they wouldn’t have children because the disease was so devastating and they could never afford IVF. One grandpa thanked us because his son decided to not have kids. His family name would stop. He said ‘Because of you, our family name will live on.’ Those are powerful moments.”
If their baby is a girl, they plan to honor Smith’s mother Lee and name her Haylee.
“[She] inspired this,” said LaForce.
But for now, work beckons. Smith is awaiting MLB’s return and learning where he’ll be playing this season. LaForce will be covering the NCAA tournament games, which start Thursday and create a hectic pace. She plans to take naps and swap heels for sneakers.
“[Pregnancy] is a long ride. You just have to stay steady. Being around basketball calms me. It’s in my blood,” she said. “But I think I’ll walk around now with a different sense of joy knowing there is a human growing inside of me.”