When there are ‘famous couples’, the glitz and glamour from the paparazzi and interviews and tabloids show not even a fraction of a percent of what goes into the couple’s relationship day-in and day-out. Just like their sport, to be great at what they do, marriage requires a consistent, diligent, dedicated effort to put work into their marriage if they want to win championships in their marriage, as well. We’re all not perfect so no marriage is going to be perfect. The smiles you see in public are a result of days, weeks, months investing time, energy, effort, and showing love to your spouse.
Marriage is one of the best gifts you can have on this earth and it’s one I’m forever grateful to God for in blessing me with my lovely bride, Amber J. We are both athletes, both musicians, both have a faith in Christ that keeps us together every single day. We are one team, one unit, looking to each other’s strengths in how to best grow the marriage through each and every obstacle ’cause we got each other.
It’s what married couples worldwide practice every single day. Learning how to best love their mate through thick and thin. The good times and bad through sickness and health. That’s real love. Love is an action, a verb, not just a noun. It’s a daily commitment that I got her back, she’s got mine. No matter what. Loyalty, man. That’s what it’s about.
And when you pair athletes together, you already know they’re going to strive to be great at it…if they choose to. If they make that choice to dedicate to the marriage the same type of energy and practice they put into their craft, they’ll be on the same page and find a more fulfilling, loving marriage by looking in how to mutually serve each other and think of each other before themselves (while at the same time taking care of themselves). It’s a balance, an art, it’s…marital love.
And so, I’m so excited to share with you the list of:
25 Professional Athlete Wives And Husbands
Thanks to Business Insider Alexandra Licata‘s ’29 of the most iconic power couples in sports’ and Golf Digest Jim Caple‘s ’10 all-time great athletic couples, and how they made each other better athletes’, which were good references in selecting some of the couples who are on this list.
Note: while most of these couples both play professional sports, there are a few exceptions of one spouse who’s a pro athlete and the other isn’t but instead a loving, supportive spouse. We HAVE to include them on the list, too, knowing the intricacies of marriage, of loving, supporting each other’s dreams through it all. We have to shout out those couples who are in it for the long haul, having that mutual support for each other.
25 – David and Melissa (González) Blough
David and Melissa. They are on this list because of this.
That’s what I’m talking about! The genuine love and support the NFL Detroit Lions quarterback has for his bride who raced in the Olympics is incredible. That mutual love and support will keep marriages going in this race of life.
24 – Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton
They’re “(t)wo of the most decorated athletes in track and field history” per Running Magazine’s Madeline Kelly, who also reported in 2020 they “live in San Francisco, where Theisen-Eaton works as a nutritionist and Eaton is pursuing mechanical engineering”.
You can read about how they met at the University of Oregon here.
23 – David Lee and Caroline Wozniacki
According to Tennis World USA’s Abbey Johnson, “(t)he former world no. 1 got married in June 2019 to former basketball player David Lee. In December of the same year, Wozniacki announced that she would be retiring after the 2020 Australian Open to start a family.”
And they’ve done exactly that. Just two months ago, they welcomed another member to their family in the form of a baby as Johnson reported that “Wozniacki announced the birth of her eldest child, a daughter…(she)posted the news on her social media platforms. ‘Family of 3 Olivia Wozniacki Lee, born June 11, 2021…'”
22 – Anthony Tolliver and Jessica Svoboda
They celebrated a decade of marriage this year (per Tolliver’s above Instagram post). That’s incredible and deserves a round of applause from wherever you’re at! And their engagement story is epic. Here’s a snippet of how it went down according to Timberwolves.com’s Jonah Ballow:
“While Tolliver changed his wardrobe at the practice facility, Jessica expressed happiness for her boyfriend of five years. She has stood by his side since the two walked the Creighton campus side-by-side. As Jessica recounted the stops in the D-League, fighting for a roster spot in San Antonio and Golden State, she took a deep breath and said, ‘It’s been a long journey.’ Tolliver slipped on his No. 44 jersey and grabbed a box for Jessica with her own custom uniform inside. Almost simultaneously, Jessica saw the description on the back of the jersey, labeled, ‘Mrs. Tolliver’ and Anthony dropped to one knee for the proposal. A mixture of laughter and tears ensued and the Tolliver’s embraced directly under the basketball hoop where Anthony spends countless hours perfecting his craft.”Timberwolves.com’s Jonah Ballow: ‘The Proposal’
21 – Bret Hedican and Kristi Yamaguchi
According to Heavy.com, “Bret Hedican is a former professional ice hockey player and Stanley Cup champion. He married fellow Olympian, Kristi Yamaguchi, in 2000– eight years after meeting her at the Olympic opening ceremonies.”
They also competed in Celebrity Family Feud together per the Heavy.com piece. Now that’s what I call competing together as a team, which I’m sure made for a fun time having both competed at the highest level in their respective sport!
20 – Roger and Mirka Federer
You don’t just become arguably the best tennis player of all time on your own. Sure, it takes countless hours of practice, dedication, and work into the craft in this individual sport but there’s just as much of a team, as well, rallying behind the player lining up to serve it in matches. And that especially includes…Federer’s spouse.
Per Tennis Net’s Florian Goosmann, “Roger and Mirka Federer have been married since 2009, and they now have four children together.”
That’s over a decade of love and support in marriage with evidently loving and, in true tennis fashion, serving (all pun intended here) each other.
19 – Ray Ferraro and Cammi Granato
When you are blazing trails in pro sports, specifically becoming the first female at your position, that also comes with a tremendous amount of a support system in the form of a spouse, as well.
Per CBC’s Jim Morris, Granato, is the “(frist) female NHL scout” and “the Olympic gold medallist would argue the strengths and weakness of players either with her brothers around the family dinner table, or later with her husband Ray Ferraro, a former NHL player and current broadcaster. Granato’s thoughts and evaluations carry even more weight now that she is the only female scout in the NHL.”
18 – Julie and Zach Ertz
Julie and Zach Ertz. Julie, an Olympian USA Soccer player who just won bronze with the USWNT in Tokyo. And Zach, who supported her along the way, recently posting proudly about his bride, his Olympian:
“Sports are not solely about the end result, they are about the journey and what you’re able to learn along the way,” Zach Ertz said in the Instagram post. “We have learned so much along the way but nothing more than to trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding. I cannot wait to celebrate with you!”
Zach, the Eagles tight end who caught that touchdown pass from Nick Foles, helping his team win a Super Bowl, knows who keeps him and Julie strong together: Jesus and His love.
The 1 Corinthians 13:4 Bible verse that Zach mentioned in the above Instagram posts says this:
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”1 Corinthians 13:4 (New International Version)
17 – Dan and Pam Reeves
When your names rhyme, I mean, c’mon. That’s coupling right there! And when you’re a wife of an NFL coach, where you may be called to pack up and move to a new city when your husband changes teams, that’s commitment. Coupling commitment! And when you’ve been married since 1964 (per Google), that’s 57 years, you know a thing or two about marriage. Sign them up to be the marital counselors on this list!
The Denver Post’s Joan Niesen, in a 2013 piece, mentioned that “there’s a reason so few NFL head coaches…are unmarried. Wives are an integral part of the football world…” And Pam Reeves was no different.
“When he first started coaching in Dallas, I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to be the perfect coach’s wife,’ ” Pam Reeves said according to Niesen. “I’m going to learn all about defenses and offenses and play-calling, and I did. Then I’d go to a game, and I had an opinion. I thought, ‘This isn’t good. Why aren’t we doing this and this and this?’ After the game, I’d say, ‘Well, gosh, on third down, why didn’t we do blah, blah, blah?’ That was not a happy time, so I decided, I’ll let him do the football, and I’ll do home.”
16 – John and Ingrid Harbuagh
To keep with the NFL coaching theme here, the support from a spouse for a Super Bowl-winning head coach evidently has to be super, including starting the game off the right way. You just have to hear what the Harbaughs’ pregame routine is.
“We always signal each other before a game… he blows me a kiss and I blow him a kiss,” Ingrid said according to Bleacher Report’s Dan Carson. “This is funny, but if we miss it, we’ve lost.”
15 – Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf
When you combine two tennis players together, similar to Roger and his bride, it makes for an epic mixed doubles team in life.
Andre and Steffi, per Honey’s Kahla Preston, “have dedicated themselves to nonprofit work through their respective foundations, also playing the occasional exhibition match and charity tournament. They’ve also embarked on business ventures.”
Per Preston, “(t)he couple married in the courtyard of the property on October 22, 2001, ‘barefoot and wearing jeans in front of a judge with their mothers their only witnesses. Agassi told Forbes India (in a Forbes India’s Salil Panchal piece) Graf agreeing to marry him was the ‘highest point’ of his life, adding, ‘She was the hardest to win… when Steffi Graf says yes, it’s as close to arriving.’ Four days after exchanging vows, the duo opened another chapter of their life together, welcoming a son named Jaden. In 2003, they welcomed a daughter, Jaz.”
14 – Servando Carrasco and Alex Morgan
Huge shout out to Servando and Alex for maintaining and growing through a long-distance relationship (as Women’s Health Mag’s Emily Becker points out they were in a LDR). It truly takes love in action to continually make it work and you really learn a lot about yourself and your mate, including really being able to enjoy and soak in moments together, not taking them for granted when you do see each other. Not to mention the amount of support you need in encouraging each other in their profession…and in this case, professional soccer.
According to Becker, “(a)fter meeting at the University of California, Berkeley where they both played soccer, Alex and Servando’s relationship crisscrossed the United States as they both chased their careers as professional athletes, making them also pros at maintaining a long-distance relationship. While both admit it’s not always the easiest arrangement, the couple has remained strong. The two tied the knot on New Year’s Eve 2014 and welcomed their first child…Charlie Elena on May 7, 2020.”
13 – Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra
Some of the greatest to do it in their sports, if not arguably the best women’s soccer player and baseball’s best shortstop, there were no shortcuts to their marriage. They’ve been married since 2003 (per Google) and have children together!
For all you parents of athletes out there, the married couple gave some pointers as pro athletes themselves on how they parent their athletic children per the Positive Coaching Alliance that you can watch here.”
According to WBUR’s Martin Kessler, “(i)n 1998 Nomar had attended a promotional event at Harvard. Also there? Mia Hamm, the star of U.S. soccer.”
Everything happens for a reason.
12 – J.J. Watt and Kealia Ohai
What a way to start off your marriage as we all know what happened just a month after that. Being thrown into the fire, they apparently were able to grow (and literally train) together through it all as Juneau reported that “the newlyweds made the most of their first few weeks in isolation amid the COVID-19 pandemic by training together at their property in Wisconsin.”
“It was great, we really enjoyed it,” Watt said according to Juneau. “We got a chance to spend a lot of time together, to train, and just to be together after our wedding.”
11 – Jrue and Lauren Holiday
Jrue Holiday has been getting more press and rightfully so as he really has been an underrated stud in the league, particularly on the defensive end (as a three-time All-Defensive team member per Basketball Reference), showing defense wins championships. Now an NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks and an Olympian gold medalist with Team USA from the Tokyo Olympics, he’s got his spouse by his side, defending and supporting him throughout the highs and lows, as they defend each other. Just as Jrue defended and supported his wife when she was facing tremendous adversity.
According to ESPN in 2016, “Holiday (was) set to miss the start of the 2016-17 season because his pregnant wife, former U.S. women’s national team soccer player Lauren Holiday, (was) diagnosed with a brain tumor.”
“There is nothing in life my wife can’t conquer with Jesus Christ in her corner. Thank you all so much for your support! God bless!”
Jrue Holiday in a 2016 tweet
Thank God, his wife, reportedly, is doing better now as Essentially Sports’ Daniel Arambur mentioned that “Lauren underwent successful surgery 2 years ago and is in great spirits right now. Holiday and his former USWNT World Cup winner wife had their second child in 2020.”
Now, the power couple is defending Black-owned businesses together as a married team.
“Jrue & Lauren Holiday announce the 2nd round grantees for the Jrue & Lauren Holiday Social Impact Fund!” Jrue mentioned in an Instagram post. “The JLH Fund is distributing $1,000,000 in unrestricted funding to (25) Black-led nonprofit organizations and (25) Black-owned businesses. 🤯”.
10 – Philip and Tiffany Rivers
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve made it to the top 10. Congratulations! And we have to start this out with a married couple who’s got not only football on their minds but nine kids! Incredible.
According to Indy Star’s Joel A. Erickson, “Philip and Tiffany both come from families of three kids, but Philip’s family tree is full of big, heavy branches. Both his mom and his grandfather came from families of nine: seven girls, two boys. ‘I think really, it was just whatever God’s will was,’ Rivers said. ‘We were just open. Certainly didn’t have a number on it. Still don’t.’ The number, so far, is nine. Seven girls. Two boys.”
“Our relationship is key, too, in raising a big family, because we were best friends first. My wife, she always says I’m the head and she’s the heart.”Philip Rivers according to Indy Star’s Erickson
9 – Russell Wilson and Ciara
Here’s how Russell Wilson and Ciara, two of the best in the game in their respective sport and music genre, make it work. Straight up.
“The two of them are, as Ciara says, equally yoked” according to GQ’s Zach Baron (as the duo was featured in the magazine).
“’Spiritually, first and foremost,’ (Ciara) says (in the GQ piece per Baron). Wilson nods. ‘God is the center of it all for us,’ he says. ‘And that’s a foundation for us. I think as we get to do everything together, business, life, kids, you know, parenthood, all that stuff, in every one of those categories the center of it is God and our faith.'”
8 – Clayton and Ellen Kershaw
This is a special couple, making an impact together throughout the world. Their foundation, ‘Kershaw’s Challenge‘, states that “Kershaw’s Challenge has given away over $12 million dollars to organizations who are on the front lines of making life better for children.”
The Dodgers pitcher and his bride also have children of their own. Per Kershaw’s Challenge: “Clayton and Ellen are high school sweethearts and married in 2010. They have three children, Cali Ann, Charley and Cooper.”
According to Sports Spectrum’s Cole Claybourn, “The Kershaws appeared as guests…on the ‘Table Forty’ podcast with Matt and Leslee Holliday, and they shared their story and how God has used them and their platform in their 18 years together as a couple. They’ve been married for 10 years, and in that time, while Clayton has embarked on a Hall-of-Fame baseball career, they’ve also been making a huge difference for children around the globe.”
And, per Sports Spectrum, “(i)n places like the Dominican Republic, they partner with organizations like International Justice Mission to fight against human trafficking.”
7 – Andrew and Shawn (Johnson) East
The duo knows how to get the job done at the highest level in their sport and are working together as a team in life to get the job done in marriage and in parenting.
According to Sports Spectrum’s Jason Romano, “Andrew East is a former professional football player. Shawn Johnson East is a former Olympic gymnastics gold medalist. Together, they are now creating content on their YouTube channel ‘The East Family’ with more than 1 million subscribers. They also host their own podcast, ‘Couple Things with Shawn and Andrew.’ They were married in April 2016”.
Andrew and Shawn also recently talked with Sports Spectrum on “the importance of faith in their life”. It’s a common theme here throughout this list, is what helps keep couples strong together.
6 – Tim and Demi-Leigh Tebow
Get your notebooks out because this couple is a great example in this world full of bad examples in how to have a great marriage!
Starting with this word of encouragement in Tim’s above Instagram post, it keeps on coming. In the form of motivational speeches, encouraging captions, and even through the couple’s new jewelry line.
“@DemiTebow and I are so excited to release a fun project that we have been working on, @153jewelry,” Tebow said in an Instagram post. “I hope it can be meaningful to you, and an encouraging reminder what truly matters, and that’s the cross!…We chose the name 1-5-3 because each number has meaning and significance. Together, 153 portrays the Gospel of Jesus, which gives our lives purpose, value and meaning. The numbers are also special because one of our favorite Bible verses is John 15:13 which says, ‘Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.'”
5 – Steph and Ayesha Curry
Another great example, Steph and Ayesha are the consummate power couple. You know Steph does his thing on the court as a NBA MVP but even more off the court, giving back to the community. Just as his bride, Ayesha, gives it her all at home, through her cooking, while giving back, as well. The Curry’s keep it coming with the giving via their ‘Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation‘:
“Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation is committed to unlocking the amazing potential of every child by fighting to end childhood hunger, ensuring students have access to a quality education, and providing safe places for all children to play and be active,” the foundation’s site says.
“…continuing to show me how amazing our God is by the creation that you are. Blessed me with the 3 of the dopest humans around. You are the 🔑 to everything that I do. This is a major milestone- but more a moment to get excited about the next chapters ahead.”Steph Curry via his Instagram post
4 – Kurt and Brenda Warner
One of the longest-married couples on this list, let’s nominate them to be another marriage mentor for everyone else. Married now for more than two decades (per Google), it’s safe to say they’ve got the experience through the up’s and downs to be able to help others in their marriages, as well, with their faith in Christ keeping them grounded and strong through it all.
“Many have said if my life story was a script in Hollywood, it would never be believed, and yet a script has been written and production will soon begin,” Warner said on his ‘First Things First Foundation’ site. “I am where I am because I believed and I never gave up…and that is the message of the Kurt Warner First Things First Foundation. Brenda and I are living proof of the importance of having strong faith in God, in yourself and in your talents.”
”This foundation started with a vision sparked by a magical year in 1999 when my lifelong dream of success in the NFL became a reality. I had my share of ups and downs on the field during my career. But, through it all I felt the Lord’s presence at work in my life. NFL experts tried to figure out the secret to my on-field successes. For me, it’s easy and really has little to do with football. First things first – faith and family – is my formula for success. Brenda and I have experienced extreme highs and lows – and through it all our faith and our family are the fabric that holds everything together. It is our wish to share these blessings and beliefs with others who have lost hope in themselves, their talents, and life. Established in 2001, First Things First is a 501(c)3 public charity which serves as a vehicle for Brenda and me as we reach out to the community to share our blessings with those in need.”Kurt Warner via his ‘First Things First Foundation’ site
3 – Tony and Lauren Dungy
Another married couple who could help advise other couples on this list in how to have a strong marriage, Tony Dungy is a Super Bowl-winning coach and has a super marriage with his wife, Lauren. Having read some of their book, it is evident how much faith, love, hope, and strength plays a part in making their marriage thrive.
According to the Dungy Family Foundation, “Lauren Dungy has created her own playbook– parenting while juggling it all…Lauren prays, plans, and depends on her faith and friends to help her structure her family’s busy schedules.”
Tony, per the foundation, “throughout his coaching career and in retirement has been active in many community service organizations. In Tampa, he worked as a public speaker for Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action and also began a mentoring program called Mentors for Life. In Indianapolis, he helped launch the Basket of Hope program that aids patients at the Riley Hospital for Children.”
And Tony, the national spokesman for All Pro Dad, wants to encourage you, via his Twitter bio, to “(l)ive by Mark 8:36”. That verse says: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36 NIV).
The true married couple OG’s.
2 – Allyson Felix and Kenneth Ferguson
Gotta’ have a Tokyo gold medal winner towards the top of this list with her groom. Allyson and Kenneth, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Emily Weaver “prefer to keep their relationship mostly private. Despite all of this, it’s very clear that these two are still madly in love after all of these years…In early 2020, Felix posted a throwback photo of her and Ferguson from 2004. She captioned the photo, ‘From young love to tons of unforgettable moments over the years…I love growing with you!’ USA Track & Field did confirm the two got married in 2018, which was the same year they welcomed Cammy (their daughter).”
Growing together no matter what. Through the good times, the bad, the highs, the lows, the work that’s required to sustain and maintain that love through the years, keeping it private and putting in all that work behind the scenes is commendable, as all couples who want a great marriage will strive to do. Together. Putting in that work, just as you would in your sport, into your marriage. Investing in it, growing together in it, and loving each other through it all.
“I’m currently a work in progress and like anyone else I face struggles every day. My goal is to be more Christ-like each and every day and that is not an easy task. I know that I’m trying to be something different from [other Olympic runners] and after I run I hope that people can distinguish [Christ-like] character in the way I present myself. I try not to focus on the pressure surrounding me. I love Philippians 4:6-7 that says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'”Allyson Felix per a previous Beyond the Ultimate piece
1 – Manny and Jinkee Pacquiao
Since ’99 (per Google). That’s 22 years of marriage. That’s love. And just like in boxing, when the going gets tough, they get right back off the mat and keep fighting. Together. Evidently knowing that they’re not fighting each other but with each other as one team.
How do they make it work?
Manny, tell ’em:
“’Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’ – 1 Corinthians 13:7…Happy 22nd Anniversary babe! On this special day, I thank God for every moment spent loving you. I don’t know where I’d be in life without you. With the guidance and grace of our Lord, we have proved that nothing is impossible. My career has reached heights because you are by my side. Words cannot express how much I adore you. I will love you always and forever. Happy 22nd anniversary Babe!”Manny Pacquiao via his Instagram post
There you have it, folks! Thank you for reading this list. In a day and age where commitment doesn’t seem like it’s valued, it’s a blessing to be able to share a list with you of married couples who’ve chosen to make the commitment…to love. Through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, through the good times and bad.
Love is in the air. All you gotta’ do is embrace it, work on yourself, and wait for the one designed for you. And if you are married, keep it up! Keep going! Keep fighting the good fight, together, hand-in-hand, side-by-side, to set the example for the next generations when other generations didn’t…you can break the cycle of broken families starting with…you and your spouse. Go get it. Together!
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.
- 1 25 Professional Athlete Wives And Husbands
- 2 25 – David and Melissa (González) Blough
- 3 24 – Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton
- 4 23 – David Lee and Caroline Wozniacki
- 5 22 – Anthony Tolliver and Jessica Svoboda
- 6 21 – Bret Hedican and Kristi Yamaguchi
- 7 20 – Roger and Mirka Federer
- 8 19 – Ray Ferraro and Cammi Granato
- 9 18 – Julie and Zach Ertz
- 10 17 – Dan and Pam Reeves
- 11 16 – John and Ingrid Harbuagh
- 12 15 – Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf
- 13 14 – Servando Carrasco and Alex Morgan
- 14 13 – Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra
- 15 12 – J.J. Watt and Kealia Ohai
- 16 11 – Jrue and Lauren Holiday
- 17 10 – Philip and Tiffany Rivers
- 18 9 – Russell Wilson and Ciara
- 19 8 – Clayton and Ellen Kershaw
- 20 7 – Andrew and Shawn (Johnson) East
- 21 6 – Tim and Demi-Leigh Tebow
- 22 5 – Steph and Ayesha Curry
- 23 4 – Kurt and Brenda Warner
- 24 3 – Tony and Lauren Dungy
- 25 2 – Allyson Felix and Kenneth Ferguson
- 26 1 – Manny and Jinkee Pacquiao
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