Superstar athletes who married their high school sweetheart
Professional athletes have the biggest platform in the world to announce they’re young, rich and eligible bachelors. Some athletes are already happily off the market before ever becoming famous. These are the superstar athletes who set their sights on their high school sweethearts and college crushes and haven’t had eyes for anyone else since.
Philip Rivers has been the face of the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers since getting drafted back in 2004, but life as a family man has been even more of a constant than professional football.
The perennial Pro Bowler has been going steady with his sweetheart, Tiffany, since junior high.
These two love each other so much that, since Philip is a devout Catholic, Tiffany converted to his faith. The Rivers made it official and got married in 2001. Since then, the couple has settled in to San Diego County, building a family that seems to get bigger every year, as they now have eight children together.
One of MLB’s top young talents has been locked up before he ever even hitting the big leagues. By the end of his second season, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was already named National League MVP and won the World Series.
He was also already engaged to longtime girlfriend Jessica Delp.
The two Las Vegas natives grew up in the same area, going to Bonzanza High School together where they began dating at age 16. At the end of his rookie season in December 2015, Kris proposed to Emily. A few days after his 21st birthday in January 2017, the World Series champ married his high school sweetheart.
It’s been a meteoric rise for LeBron James since reaching national acclaim in high school, and the NBA’s top talent only continues to grow more famous every year.
If there’s one constant in LeBron’s ever-changing life, it’s his rock, Savannah Brinson.
LeBron and Savannah met while attending St. Vincent-St. Mary High School (Akron, OH). Within LeBron’s first few years in the NBA, he and Savannah had two kids together. On New Year’s Eve in 2011, LeBron finally got on one knee and proposed. Two years later, after finally winning two championships, life got even sweeter when the high school sweethearts married.
CC Sabathia is (literally and figuratively) one of the biggest pitchers in MLB. Even as a World Series champion and six-time All-Star, he’s only had eyes for one woman. CC has been with his wife, Amber, since they attended Vallejo High School in California together.
When CC was pitching for the Cleveland Indians a life-changing moment came when he was robbed at gunpoint in May 2002. After the scary run-in, he had an epiphany and called Amber soon after.
“If you were here, this wouldn’t have happened. Let’s get married.” That’s exactly what they did one year later. Today, the Sabathias have built a happy family with four children.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson has been traveling the United States for years, but the NFL star didn’t need to look past his home town of Manhattan, Kanas, to find the love of his life.
Jordy grew up just three miles down the road from classmate Emily Roethlisberger, who he began dating way back in middle school.
In fact, Emily dumped the Super Bowl champ after seventh grade. The rest was all happily, as they dated through high school and college. While on a family vacation in Cancun in 2007, the year before turning pro, Jordy proposed. Since then, he and Emily had two kids together and adopted a third!
All too many of us can empathize with the reality that finding a high school sweetheart does not necessarily mean finding THE one. That was the case with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who began dating Ashton Meem while attending the Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia.
Russell got married to Ashton his senior year in college in January 2012. It didn’t last long, though. They divorced in April 2014. The second time proved to be the charm, as Russell began dating R&B artist Ciara in 2015. They married in 2016 and welcomed a daughter, Sienna, to the family one year later.
Gordon Hayward may have already been playing in the NBA for the Utah Jazz when he got engaged to Robyn Van Vliet, but this one still comes pretty close to passing for high school sweetheart, as the engagement took place just months after her graduation.
The Indianapolis natives got to know each other while Gordon was 23, and it only took five months for him to propose. One year later, they were happily married. Since then, the Hayward family has grown quite a bit. While with the Jazz, they welcomed two new daughters and, in 2018, the newly signed Boston Celtics star showed “Daddy’s always happy” when learning they would soon welcome a third daughter.
Mariano Rivera takes “school sweetheart” to a whole new level.
The Panama City, Panama, native has been the definition of consistency as one of the most dominant closers in the MLB in his time pitching for the New York Yankees from 1995-2013.
That consistency doesn’t even come close to Mo’s personal life, as he’s been with the same person since grade school! Mo and his wife, Clara, have been going steady since elementary school, getting hitched in November 1991. That’s four years before Mo even made the MLB! They have since had three sons, one of whom looks to be on a MLB path of his own.
Los Angeles Lakers start Kobe Bryant is another who wasn’t in school when he met his sweetheart, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t in high school.
In November 1999, Kobe was trying to carve out a rap career when he met Tha Eastsidaz backup dancer Vanessa Laine.
At the time, Kobe was 21 while Vanessa was still 17 and in high school. Disapproval from his parents didn’t stop them. Kobe didn’t want a prenup when they got married in April 2001 – he had fallen head over heels for her. A strained relationship with Kobe’s parents was mended after the birth of their first daughter in 2003.
There were numerous (well documented) rough stretches that even led Vanessa to file for divorce in 2011, but they overcame their struggles and are strong together as ever.
Lefty pitcher Clayton Kershaw has been a shining symbol of consistency for the Los Angeles Dodgers since he debuted back in 2008. The three-time Cy Young Award winner struck gold when the Dodgers signed him to a $215 million deal.
Good luck striking gold and grabbing a date with LA’s ace, because he’s only had eyes for one lady for a long time.
Clayton first met and began dating Ellen Melson while in Texas at Highland Park High School. They dated for seven years before getting married in December 2010. That massive contract was perfect timing, as they got two more mouths to feed, welcoming both a son and daughter over the next three years.
Golden State Warriors megastar Steph Curry and his wife, Ayesha, have been the NBA’s loveable power couple for years. Actually, make that power TRIO ever since their first daughter, Riley, took the media by storm with an unforgettable press conference.
Their loved blossomed long before Steph turned pro. This love story traces way back to when a 15-year-old Steph and 14-year-old Ayesha were living in Charlotte where they met at a church group. It turns a couple that prays together, stays together. As Steph moved west from Charlotte to Daytona, Ohio, for college, then San Francisco in the NBA, he and Ayesha remained inseparable.
Drew Brees found a perfect fit for a flourishing NFL career in New Orleans, but the Super Bowl-winning quarterback found his perfect match further north. While breaking out on the national stage as an elite talent at Purdue University, Drew met met Brittany Dudchenko.
No worries about all the media attention getting to his head, Drew only had eyes for Brittany through college and into the pros. While with the San Diego Chargers, they tied the knot in February 2003. Since finding a new home in NOLA, the Brees family has added four children, and we couldn’t imagine a more picture perfect family.
Buster Posey has spent the entirety of his MLB career playing for the San Francisco Giants. One piece of his Giants uniform people won’t see he’s always been wearing since his first MLB at-bat is a wedding band hidden beneath his gloves.
Buster met his would-be wife, Kristen, senior year in high school in the last place anyone would expect to find romance… They met while taking the SATs. A chance encounter in the most dreadful of all school scenarios led to a prom date. Fast forward four years (2009) to 22-year-olds who knew one thing about the future: They wanted to spend it with each other.
Since then, the only thing that’s changed is taking care of twins they had in 2011.
When it comes to talented tandems, no one comes close to these soccer sweethearts. Striker Alex Morgan is an Olympic gold medalist and the highest paid player in women’s soccer, and her hubby, Servando Carrasco, is holding up his end professionally in the MLS too.
Before they were crushing the competition professionally, they were kicking it together at UC Berkley where they both played for the Golden Bears. soccer player Servando Carrasco. After both graduated college in 2010, they continued their careers for a few years before saving the special date to get married on December 31, 2014. Not a bad way to ring in the new year.
As far as “high school sweethearts” goes, it doesn’t get much weirder than this one (we hope). Ashley was gym teacher at his high school. MLB journeyman Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a feat far more jaw-dropping than his World Series championship with the Boston Red Sox in 2013…
In 2005, Jarrod married Ashley, his high school gym teacher!
The couple didn’t begin dating until the year after Jarrod graduated high school and they’ve built a happy family with four daughters since. That may be the public story we’re all getting, but it sure does seem like some love may have been blossoming a bit before Jarrod dawned his cap and gown.
From one great point guard to another, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade have more than just playing for the Demon Deacons. While D-Wade married his high school sweetheart, CP3 met his future wife while attending Wake Forest in Jada Crawley.
Chris left Wake Forest for the NBA (2005) after only two years, but he continued to date Jada until they finally got married in September 2011. When asked about his college sweetheart, the All-Star point guard said, “Jada was with me when I was broke.” No worries of a gold digger here. These two were head over heels for one another when the only thing lining their pockets was lint.
Peyton Manning was taking one of the first giant steps as a quarterback in what developed into a Hall of Fame, going on a recruiting trip to the University of Tennessee when he met his future wife.
After his senior year, Peyton was staying at a former player’s house on a visit to Tennessee (where he would go on to play).
Peyton’s host decided he would introduce the young QB to his neighbor’s daughter, Ashley Thompson. They immediately hit it off. Despite her attending the University of Virginia, they dated throughout college. Two years into his NFL career, Peyton and Ashley married on St. Patrick’s Day 2001.
Twins legend Joe Mauer has called Minnesota home since day one. The St. Paul native began his road to Major League Baseball in high school just a few miles down away from Target Field. That’s also where St. Paul native Maddie Bisanz attended high school.
Even though they were classmates, they never actually dated while in school together. In fact, they hadn’t even reconnected until years into his MLB career since Maddie was also still in St. Paul working as a nurse. Once together, they weren’t together much for more than a year before he popped the question in 2011.
Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are the perfect couple that have NBA fans (and some NBA players) jealous across the board. It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Miami Heat legend, though. Before finding his happily ever after, Dwyane thought he already had it in high school sweetheart Siohvaughn Funches.
The couple got married in 2002 while Dwyane was still playing college ball at Marquette. Dwyane filed for divorce in 2007, but it was a messy one. Eventually, the perennial All-Star’s divorce was granted the divorce in 2010, giving him full custody of the two boys they had together, Zaire and Zion.
When Russell Westbrook went to UCLA, his time playing college basketball ended up being way more than a pit stop on his road to the NBA. Though he would only spend two years playing for the Bruins, sophomore year couldn’t have been more significant, as he met freshman women’s basketball player Nina Earl.
It was all love and basketball. Russ left for the NBA, but his heart remained on UCLA’s campus with Nina. Love and basketball proved everlasting, as the basketball couple continued to date from his college departure in 2008 throughout his meteoric NBA rise to stardom. The college sweethearts married in August 2015 and welcomed three kids over the following three years.
Before all the accolades of a Hall of Fame NFL career with the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche, Joe Sakic was just a kid chasing a Canadian dream. While attending high school in Saskatchewan’s Swift Current, Joe was also playing for the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.
It was while playing for the junior team that he met classmate Debbie who couldn’t have any less of an idea about who the budding star was. Fast forward a few years and she was off to Quebec to follow her man’s dream. Looking back on an NHL career that spanned from 1988-2009, Joe and Debbie have three beautiful children and so much more to reflect on than just hockey.
It’s been nothing but southern living for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill who grew up and played high school football in Texas before playing collegiately for Texas A&M. Before Ryan took his talents to Miami, for the NFL, he took his spring break talents to Panama City in 2009. It was here he met Lauren.
Now it would be reasonable if these two Aggies were both just students who never met since A&M’s enrollment is well over 50,000 students. Incredibly enough though, they had been attending the same church group! Their fateful vacation to Florida ended up turning into a whole new life in Florida, as the college sweethearts married in January 2012 before Ryan was drafted by the Dolphins later that year.
This love story begins shortly after high school in the summertime. Before playing a minute of college ball, Caron Butler was taking a summer class at the University of Connecticut before starting freshman year to knock some credits out of the way when he met Andrea Pink.
It only took two years at UConn to make him one of the all-time great Huskies. That’s also how long it took for Caron to know he wanted Andrea to be by his side the rest of the way. Caron declared for the NBA draft in 2005 and traveled to Las Vegas with Andrea the same year.
Growing up in the small town of Audubon, New Jersey, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco may not have had much of a high school football team, but he had a winner in his loving girlfriend, Dana. When Joe and Dana graduated high school in 2003, they didn’t let distance get between them.
Joe went from the University of Pittsburgh before transferring to play for the University of Delaware Blue Hens while Dana remained in New Jersey’s Rider University. Getting drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2008 allowed them to stay in the northeast. Since getting married in 2011, the Flaccos have welcomed five children to the family.
The path to happiness and success wasn’t always so clear for MLB journeyman Brandon Mccarthy. While attending Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, Brandon met and began dating Amanda Nelson. It didn’t last. When Bandon and Amanda graduated, they went their separate ways.
But distance only proved to bring them closer together. The high school sweethearts split paths aftger graduating in 2001 but were back together in 2007. Pitching in the MLB for two years up to that point couldn’t keep his mind off his first love. After proposing in December 2009, they married a year later. In March 2016, the McCarthys welcomed their first daughter, Cassidy.
Growing up in Arlington, Texas, Vernon Wells attended James Bowie High School where he starred as a two-sport athlete, playing quarterback on the football team and center field on the baseball team. As Vernon saw a future in pursuing baseball, he also saw a future in pursuing his high school sweetheart, Charlene Valenti.
The three-time MLB All-Star continued to date Charlene while playing in the minor leagues. After getting called up to the Majors with the Toronto Blue Jays, Vernon married Charlene two seasons into his big league career in 2001. While enjoying a successful MLB career, Vernon and Charlene also enjoyed the addition of two boys to the Wells family.
Three-time NBA All-Star Deron Williams’ significant other has been about as close to a “day one” as can be. The talented point guard first met his future wife, Amy Young, while still in second grade. Probably safe to guess it wasn’t love at first sight.
While attending The Colony High School in Texas, Deron and Amy began to date and never looked back. No matter where basketball took him – Illinois for college, then Salt Lake City, Brooklyn, Dallas and Cleveland – Amy was ready to follow. The high school sweethearts have had four children together – that’s nearly enough to roster a basketball team of their own.
Mike Mussina and his wife, Jana, grew up together in the small town of Montoursville, Pennsylvania, but it was far from first sight. Even though the town is made up of just a few thousand people AND Jana was the high school baseball team manager while Mike played, they hardly knew each other.
Jana, who is two years Mike’s senior, didn’t really begin talking to Mike until he returned home after his first season with the Baltimore. They hung out a good deal over his break and, with just a couple weeks before he had to return to spring training, the soft-spoken pitcher finally asked her out. The rest is history.
While Tyler Zeller was asserting himself as a top national talent at the University of North Carolina, he was also starting a path to another part of the rest of his life. It was while at Chapel Hill that the seven-foot Tar Heels center met Caitlyn Ferebee.
Tyler was drafted No. 17 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2012 NBA Draft, but it was in July 2014 when a trade marked a new big leap in life when a trade to the Boston Celtics came just four days before he and Caitlyn finally tied the knot and got married.
Troy Tulowitzki played an unbelievable four sports at the varsity level while attending Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, California. While balancing a ridiculously hectic sports schedule, Troy somehow managed to find time to enjoy a personal life and began dating Danyll Gammon.
The high school sweethearts continued to date while Troy made the transition to the majors, as he played for his first team, the Colorado Rockies. After a few years of MLB play, Troy and Danyll got married in November 2009 in northern California not far off from where their young love began. In January 2014, Dannyl gave birth to their first son, Taz.