Why WNBA's A'ja Wilson Was Scrambling to See Her Phone When She Found Out Tom Brady Praised Her in “Time”

The retired NFL star called Wilson an "incredible athlete" in an essay for 'Time'

<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty, Beatriz Velasco/Getty</p> A

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty, Beatriz Velasco/Getty

A'ja Wilson, Tom Brady

A'ja Wilson says learning of Tom Brady's praise for her was a moment like no other!

While attending the Time 100 Gala in New York City earlier this week, the WNBA star, 27, expressed her gratitude for the retired NFL player, 46, after he wrote an essay for Time celebrating her accomplishments as she was added to the publication's list of the world's 100 most influential people.

"He's invested so much into our team, he made sure that we were good, so for the GOAT at his sport — and probably one of the GOATs of the world — to say those words about me, it's truly special, and I'm grateful for the guy," Wilson told PEOPLE exclusively.

The basketball star also revealed where she was when she learned of Brady's praise for her. "Man, it's actually crazy because I found out when I was about to get my lashes done," she said.

"When you get your lashes done, your eyes are shut. Like, good luck opening them. And I was like, 'I really need to [open my eyes], my phone's going off,' and then that's when I read it," Wilson added. "I was like, 'Oh, Tom. This is a big deal. I appreciate you.' "

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<p>Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty</p> A'ja Wilson

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

A'ja Wilson

Related: Aces Star A'ja Wilson Says She Learned to Ignore the Internet Trolls: 'Let Me Focus on My Fanbase'

In his essay for Time, Brady wrote that Wilson "is not just an incredible athlete, she is also an inspiration to all who witness her talent and drive. Her journey is a testament to the power of passion and fearlessness in achieving greatness."

Noting that the Las Vegas Aces player "possesses a unique combination of natural skill and unwavering determination," Brady said the "rare blend has propelled her to achieve remarkable feats in her career," as he highlighted many of her accomplishments, including two WNBA championships with the Las Vegas Aces, two WNBA MVP awards, a WNBA Finals MVP award, an NCAA title at the University of South Carolina and an Olympic gold medal.

<p>Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty, Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty</p> Tom Brady, A'ja Wilson

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty, Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty

Tom Brady, A'ja Wilson

"A’ja’s determination and drive for excellence are the forces behind her team’s consistent victories. Her championship mentality not only secures her place in sports history but also cements her legacy of greatness that extends far beyond the realm of sports," Brady, who is a part owner of the Aces, also wrote. "And the best part is, she’s just getting started. She continues to push boundaries and inspire others with her remarkable journey."

"A’ja Wilson is not just a champion; she is a symbol of resilience, compassion and unwavering dedication," he continued. "Her story is a reminder that with passion and fearlessness, anyone can achieve greatness."

"I know she has so much more she wants to achieve ... and I get to be in a front-row seat watching and admiring," Brady concluded.

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