The Top 20 Athlete-Celebrity Marriages

Geoff RatliffContributor IIIJune 3, 2012

The Top 20 Athlete-Celebrity Marriages

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    Be they athletes, actors, singers, or reality stars, the world is obsessed with celebrities. The evolution of new media and social media, along with various technological advances and innovations over the past decade, has made it easier than ever for us to follow their every move.

    People and US Weekly magazines, reality television shows, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, USTREAM, and smart phones have all helped to create a 24-hour news cycle that makes it nearly impossible for these very public figures to enjoy even a moment of privacy, and that’s usually not a good thing for them.

    Drunken late-night rants, stints in drug rehab, stories of infidelity, and celebrity breakups seem to rule the celebrity news cycle. But too often we fail to highlight the positive moments. Sure, we briefly celebrate the latest marriage or baby birth, but those positive vibes are quickly replaced by scrutiny or skepticism over how long the union will last (thanks Kim Kardashian) or the latest report of celebrity parenting gone bad (here’s looking at you Bobby Christina).

    Maybe we have a subconscious desire to prove that celebrities are just as flawed as us regular folk. Or perhaps our infatuation is fed by some sadistic need to find joy in other people’s misery. Whatever the reason, it’s generally the bad behavior that gets the most press.

    There’ll be plenty of time to celebrate the vices and missteps of rich, famous, and ridiculously attractive people, but today I’d like to recognize the athletes who got it right in at least one aspect of their lives; finding the celebrity soul mate that they hope to grow old(er) with (at least for now).

    Without further ado, I present The Single Married Guy’s Top 20 Athlete-Celebrity Marriages.

20. Rodney and Holly Robinson-Peete (Married Since June 10, 1995)

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    What better way to start than with the couple that’s been married the longest? The former NFL quarterback and the actress/singer will celebrate 17 years of marital bliss a week from today.

    During that time, they’ve managed to raise four children—one girl and three boys—one of which (oldest son Rodney, Jr.) was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.

    The Peetes have been active philanthropists almost since the beginning of their marriage, founding the HollRod Foundation in 1997 to benefit people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. 

19. Clay Buchholz and Lindsay Clubine (November 14, 2009)

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    Like another notable Boston-area athlete (more on him later), Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz can never be down for too long after a tough outing, knowing that he has a beautiful wife to go home to (when they’re not both on the road that is).

    81 games on the road per year probably seems like a breeze for Buchholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine, the host of HDNet’s adventure travel show Get Out!, and former Deal or No Deal briefcase model.

    Clubine, a native of Kansas City, MO (shameless plug for my home state), has certainly expanded her horizons well beyond the Show Me State. Just as she has been able to reach the top of her profession as the host of the No. 1 rated show on HDNet, Buchholz is hoping that he can help lead his Red Sox back to the top of the MLB mountain by winning the team’s third World Series since 2004.

18. Lleyton Hewitt and Bec Cartwright (July 21, 2005)

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    They may not be well known to Americans, but this couple is a big deal in their native Australia.

    Hewitt made history back in 2001 when he became the youngest No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player in history, a mark that still stands. Cartwright is an actress and award-winning singer who may be best known to the U.S. audience as the season-one winner of the popular show Dancing With the Stars.

    While Hewitt has struggled to remain relevant on the ATP tour, Cartwright has retired from acting, devoting most of her time to raising the couple’s two daughters.

17. Shannon Brown and Monica (November 22, 2010 Officially)

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    Phoenix Suns guard Shannon Brown and R&B diva Monica are so in love with each other that they proclaimed their love for each other not once, but twice.

    Their union became official during a private ceremony in Atlanta in November of 2010. After the former Lakers guard and his teammates suffered an embarrassing playoff exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, Brown quickly turned that frown upside down during a public wedding ceremony last July.

16. Jeff Garcia and Carmella DeCesare (April 21, 2007)

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    Athletes and Playboy Centerfolds go together like ice cream and apple pie. In the case of former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia and 2004 Playmate of the Year Carmella DeCesare, the flavor would definitely be cosmopolitan.

    Garcia, who is of Mexican and Irish decent, made his name as the scrappy, undersized quarterback who made three Pro Bowl appearances for the San Francisco 49ers (2000-2002)—and one more for the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 2007—after going undrafted in 1994, and finally making his way to the NFL after a four year career in the Canadian Football League (CFL).

    Garcia stopped at nothing to overcome the fact that, at 6’ 1”, he didn’t have the prototypical NFL quarterback build. That apparently wasn’t enough for former teammate Terrell Owens, who publicly called out Garcia’s lack of arm strength.

    DeCesare is certainly not your typical Midwestern girl, as her Italian and Puerto Rican heritage makes her a rare find in the Buckeye State (Ohio). She was able to parlay her PMOY status into a stint as a WWE Diva, but has since taken on a more low-key profile as a wife and mother of three young children. 

15. Jason Sehorn and Angie Harmon (June 9, 2001)

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    While the idea of athletes and starlets finding love is certainly not a new tale, Jason Sehorn and Angie Harmon sparked memories of the Joe DiMaggio-Marilyn Monroe coupling when they first burst onto the scene as the latest beautiful athlete-celebrity couple.

    The former New York Giants cornerback and the actress/model have been married since 2001, shortly after Sehorn surprised Harmon with a proposal during an appearance on the Jay Leno show.

    That act earned Sehorn some serious cool points with the ladies, and raised the bar on proposals for guys all over the country.

14. Hank Baskett and Kendra Wilkinson (June 27, 2009)

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    It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the former NFL wide receiver and his Playmate wife, but the two seem to be in marital bliss these days as they prepare to film a new reality show, Kendra On Top, for the WE Network.

    The veteran reality stars famously dealt with rumors of a pending divorce starting in late 2010, but Kendra quickly and publicly shot those down, and the two continue to have a solid marriage.

    It ain’t easy following Hugh Hefner, but Baskett seems up to the task.

13. Tim and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (July 6, 2002)

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    Former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck and his wife Elisabeth might easily win the “least likely to be a celebrity couple” award among this group of 20 couples.

    Tim followed in his older brother Matt’s footsteps as the starting quarterback at Boston College. He was less successful when it came to his NFL career, primarily serving as a backup during his six-year career with seven different NFL teams. While he never quite broke through on the field, he has established himself as one of the NFL’s top television analysts, a position he currently holds at ESPN.

    Elisabeth’s rise to fame was even more improbable as she somehow parlayed an appearance as a contestant on the show Survivor into a co-hosting gig on the popular talk show The View. Since replacing Lisa Ling in 2003, she has made the news a number of times for her conservative, and often just plain weird, comments on the show.

12. Hilary Duff and Mike Comrie (August 14, 2010)

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    NHL stars are quickly becoming the flavor of the month among pop starlets and actresses. Hilary Duff and Pittsburgh Penguins center Mike Comrie are exhibit A.

    Duff is an actress/singer who first gained fame (and a lot of dough) as the star of the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire. She has since expanded her empire to include the titles of author, entrepreneur, and pop star.

    Despite all of her success, Duff recently took on her greatest challenge yet when she became a first-time mother in March of this year. I’m sure Comrie hopes his son follows in the footsteps of his wife’s less painful careers.

11. Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher (July 10, 2010)

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    Following her rumored relationship with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Carrie Underwood is no stranger to relationships with star professional athletes. Given her low-key image, it’s no wonder she opted to go the NHL route on her next go-round.

    Underwood has become one of country music’s biggest stars since winning the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. Fisher has also found success in Nashville, leading the Predators to the second round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs before eventually falling to the Phoenix Coyotes in five games.

    While the defeat was undoubtedly tough for Fisher, his offseason will be a little sweeter with the lovely Underwood there to comfort him.

10. Jeff Gordon and Ingrid Vandebosch (November 7, 2006)

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    It’s been a few years since Jeff Gordon dominated the NASCAR circuit. He won the Winston Cup Series Championship (now called the Sprint Cup Series) in 1995, 1997, 1998, and 2001, and while he’s still one of the more notable drivers on the circuit, it’s now been more than 10 years since his last championship.

    If he never wins another race, Gordon’s got enough hardware to last him a lifetime, and the gorgeous model/actress Ingrid Vandebosch by his side. Winning a race may seem less important when you know she’ll always be there waiting at the finish line.

9. Marko Jaric and Adriana Lima (February 14, 2009)

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    No disrespect to Jaric (who am I kidding? It's always disrespectful when you preface a comment with "no disrespect..."), but this is clearly the biggest mismatch of talent of any couple on the list. The former NBA guard—who played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Memphis Grizzlies during a seven-year NBA career—earns top-ten props for locking down the Brazilian supermodel of Victoria’s Secret fame.

    If you’re reading this Marko, you should write a book on how to score a supermodel. It might net you more than your career NBA earnings (that’s a compliment by the way).

8. Pete Sampras and Bridgette Wilson-Sampras (September 30, 2000)

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    Pete Sampras was once considered the greatest men’s tennis player of all-time, that is before Roger Federer ran roughshod over the ATP and broke Sampras’ record for most career single’s victories in a major (Sampras has 13 such victories).

    Don’t shed a tear for Pete though, a man who rather enjoys being out of the spotlight. He still gets to play a real life Billy Madison to his actress wife Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, that is if he’s so inclined. 

7. Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian (September 27, 2009)

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    You can speculate all day about Khloe Kardashian’s attractiveness relative to her older sisters, or who her real father is. But when it comes to stability in her relationship, she’s got Kim and Kourtney beat by a mile.

    It’s been a rough 12-months for her husband, former Dallas Maverick and Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom. In less than a year, he’s been swept out of the playoffs, traded to New Orleans in the blockbuster deal that wasn’t, and then traded to and cut by the same team that bounced him out of the 2011 postseason.

    Like a true down-ass chick should, Khloe put her reality show stardom on hold to focus on helping her man get his life, and his NBA career, back on track. That’s the type of woman that every man should hope to marry.

6. Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker (April 17, 2009)

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    Andy Roddick may never win another grand slam title. Ok, Andy Roddick will never win another grand slam title, but that doesn’t mean he’s failed in life.

    To the contrary, Roddick has found happiness that no tennis championship could buy in the form of supermodel Brooklyn Decker, she of Sports Illustrated fame. Decker has recently expanded her repertoire to include acting, but that’s merely a side hustle to her true calling as, arguably, America’s premier eye candy.

    Roddick may be the poster boy for the death of the American male tennis star, but he and Decker represent the United States proudly every time they step out together. 

5. Carmelo Anthony and La La Vasquez (July 10, 2010)

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    Their respective professional successes aside, New York Knicks all-star forward Carmelo Anthony and the stunning television personality turned actress La La Vasquez are unquestionably one of the more attractive, and most stylish, couples on this list.

    The two Brooklyn natives endured a lengthy engagement following Anthony’s proposal on Christmas of 2004. They finally made their commitment official in the summer of 2010, a wedding that received more attention for what was said at the reception than the I-dos that preceded it.

    As basketball fans may recall, it was then that former New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul joked about creating “their own big three” in the Big Apple in reference to he, Anthony, and Amar’e Stoudemire joining forces for the Knicks, this after LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to join Dwyane Wade as members of the Miami Heat.

    However, as you may also recall, neither Anthony nor Paul were members of the Knicks at the time.

4. Tony Romo and Candice Crawford (May 28, 2011)

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    It probably wasn’t a coincidence that Romo’s best season as a pro came after getting hitched to the former Miss Missouri (another shout out to my home state).

    The Cowboys had a disappointing 2011 season, missing out on an NFC East title and a berth in the NFL playoffs when they lost the last game of the season to the New York Giants. But Romo proved a lot of his skeptics wrong by playing through an early season rib injury and rebounding from a couple of bad interceptions in a loss to the Detroit Lions—posting a career-best quarterback rating of 101.4, good for fourth in the league.

    Now that Romo has added the joy of fatherhood to his union with Crawford, maybe he can make his NFL career as complete as his family by delivering another Super Bowl ring to a long-suffering Dallas fan base. 

3. Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti (December 12, 2001)

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    2012 has been all about winning for actress Ashley Judd and her IndiCar-driving husband Dario Franchitti.

    The champagne started poppin’ in April, when Judd’s beloved Kentucky Wildcats capped off a fabulous season by winning their first NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship under head coach John Callipari.

    The beverages kept flowing—this time in the form of milk—in May as Franchitti won his third Indianapolis 500.

2. Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen (February 26, 2009)

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    If Tom Brady ever decides to write a book on how to recover from potentially damaging career moves, the title should simply be Just Marry a Supermodel.

    The four-time Super Bowl winner was well on his way to becoming the latest in a long-line of “athlete baby daddies” when he fathered a son out of wedlock with former girlfriend—and a hottie in her own right—Bridget Moynahan in August of 2007. Brady somehow avoided major media scrutiny, as people instead chose to focus on his then new relationship with Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

    Brady was again on the cusp of much scrutiny after his New England Patriots lost their second Super Bowl in four years to Eli Manning and the New York Giants this past February. But Bundchen once again helped cushion the blow with this now infamous postgame video, in which she was caught either defending her husband’s honor, or completely disrespecting his teammates, depending on which team you support.

    Brady remains one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, and Bundchen is still one of the world’s most beautiful women, so public opinion aside, I think they’ll end up in a happy place.

1. David and Victoria Beckham (July, 1999)

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    The Beckhams may trail the Peetes in longevity, but they are peerless when it comes to celebrity couple world domination. The soccer star and former Spice Girl have been longtime favorites of the British paparazzi, but they decided to bring their act stateside when David signed with MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.

    His career got off to a rocky start in the United States, but the strategic move finally paid off last year when he and Landon Donovan led the Galaxy to the MLS Cup, Beckham’s first with the club, and third league title in as many countries.

    “Becks” signed a new two-year contract in January to remain in Los Angeles, so don’t expect this power couple to go back across the pond anytime soon.

    Check out more of Geoff's take on sports and pop culture at popflyboys.com