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The 15: Sports Power Couples

October 15, 2015

PressBox editor Kaitlyn Carr married Bowie Baysox communications manager Matt Wilson Sept. 26. The union is similar to many we have seen through the years in sports, as many couples have found love while participating in or working around the sports field. With that in mind, here's a look at the top 15 sports power couples. 

1. Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan

So, actor Epps and actress Lathan don't technically count as a "sports" couple. But there are two things you should know. One, the acting duo was actually dating during the time they were filming the beloved film "Love & Basketball." Two, there is no shortage of athletes (unsurprisingly, many of them female basketball players) who don't let you finish the question before they tell you "Love & Basketball" is their favorite movie. The iconic "I score, you strip" scene cemented Quincy McCall and Monica Wright in the hearts of athletes forever. 

2. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon 

Their qualifications as a "sports" couple can be debated. Their qualifications as a "power" couple most certainly cannot. The real-life Paul Michael Levesque had a career as a 13-time World Wrestling Entertainment heavyweight champion that would make him hall of fame worthy in the sports entertainment industry. In 2000, he began an on-screen angle with McMahon, the daughter of company chairman and CEO Vince McMahon. The storyline would ultimately lead to a real-life relationship and then marriage in 2003. Levesque, now the company's executive vice president, and McMahon, the chief brand officer, serve as WWE's on-screen "Authority" in addition to their behind-the-scenes leadership roles. 

3. Fabio Fognini and Flavia Pennetta

The Italian tennis players appear to be the most timely couple on the list, as they have been engaged since 2014 and a wedding is expected in 2016. They likely wouldn't have cracked the list at all until September, when both took incredible career turns. Fognini was once ranked No. 13 in the Association of Tennis Professionals world rankings, but his career highlight came when he upset Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open. Ten days later, Pennetta did him one better by beating Roberta Vinci for her first career Grand Slam title and then promptly announced her retirement.

4. A.J. Feeley and Heather Mitts

Feeley was no "backup" plan for Mitts, a soccer star, as the couple got married in 2010. Mitts is a three-time gold medalist who also played for the U.S. team that was runner-up at the 2011 Women's World Cup. She also gained fame for her photogenic looks, appearing in the 2005 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and being voted "Hottest Female Athlete" in a 2004 poll. Feeley, a former Oregon quarterback, spent 11 years in the NFL with the Eagles, Dolphins, Chargers, Panthers and Rams, finishing his career with 28 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. But his "pick" off the field certainly wasn't an issue. 

5. Candace Parker and Shelden Williams

Parker is one of the greatest women's college basketball players of all time. During her career at Tennessee from 2004-07, she was a two-time Wooden Award winner as the women's national college basketball player of the year, won two national championships and became the first woman to dunk during an NCAA tournament game. As a professional, she is a two-time WNBA MVP and has also been a part of two Olympic gold medal-winning U.S. teams. Fellow basketball star Williams played for Duke (2002-06). So why don't we just move along here. 

6. Steve Berthiaume and Cindy Brunson

When Brunson anchored "SportsCenter" for the first time in 2001, her co-anchor was the man she would end up marrying. That sappy fact alone bumps this broadcasting duo a few spots up the list. After leaving ESPN, Berthiaume became the Arizona Diamondbacks' TV play-by-play voice and Brunson became a basketball analyst for the Pac-12 Networks. They're both incredibly good at what they do and have made career changes to be closer to each other. They may well be the most likable couple in sports media. 

7. Christian Ponder and Samantha Ponder

There was a time when then-Samantha Steele was famous, in part, for dating and later marrying Ponder, a former Florida State quarterback. In 2015, it feels much more like the quarterback's future relevance may come from his ESPN "College GameDay" reporter wife. Did you know the couple, who got married in 2012, named their daughter Bowden after Christian's legendary collegiate coach, Bobby Bowden? His college career featured far more pleasant memories than his brief career in the NFL. 

8. Sanya Richards-Ross and Aaron Ross

So, technically, I've managed to include a Baltimore athlete on the list. Ross signed with the Ravens during the 2014 offseason when they were in need of cornerback help. Sure, he never actually took the field for the Ravens after tearing his Achilles tendon in July of that year, but it technically counts. The couple is incredibly accomplished in their respective sports. Richards-Ross won four gold medals and a bronze during her Olympic track and field career at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games, while Ross won a national championship at Texas before helping the New York Giants claim two Super Bowl titles.

9. Steve Rushin and Rebecca Lobo

This seems like a lofty spot for Rushin, a sportswriter, and Lobo, a former women's basketball star at Connecticut and in the WNBA. You need to read his account of how they met in a Hartford Courant commentary. "The first words Rebecca Lobo ever spoke to me when we met in a Manhattan bar in 2001 were: ‘Aren't you the guy who just mocked women's basketball in Sports Illustrated?' I blushed, broke out in a flop swear and said, ‘yes.' A few weeks earlier, I had written that although Wilt Chamberlain claimed to have slept with 20,000 women in his lifetime, I had once slept with 7,138 women in a single night: We were all snoring in the stands at a WNBA game." Lobo married him, anyway. 

10. Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner

Comaneci, a former Romanian gymnast, and Conner, a former American gymnast, will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary in 2016, and they are by far the most powerful couple in their sport's history. They claimed 11 Olympic medals between them (two golds for Conner, five for Comaneci) and remain two of the most popular figures in gymnastics history. 

11. Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm

When the duo got married in 2003, they were legitimately among the biggest stars in their respective sports. Garciaparra had just finished his fifth All-Star season with the Boston Red Sox (he would later add a sixth with the Los Angeles Dodgers), while Hamm had already led the U.S. women's national soccer team to two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal (she would add a second Olympic gold in 2004). The two very much remain in power, including an ownership stake in Los Angeles FC, which will begin play in Major League Soccer in 2018. 

12. Erin Andrews and Jarret Stoll

Stoll, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, signed a one-year deal with the New York Rangers during the offseason, but it was the least interesting news he was a part of. Before that, Stoll was arrested for possession of cocaine and the party drug MDMA in Las Vegas and was rumored to have split with Andrews, a longtime sports reporter. But those who check TMZ regularly (probably not something to be proud of) know Andrews ultimately reunited with Stoll. 

13. Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

NASCAR's Patrick and Stenhouse are one of the most famous couples who compete against each other at the highest level of an individual sport. Do you think your relationship has obstacles? Consider that, on multiple occasions, the dating pair has been involved in accidents caused by one or the other on the track. Maybe the status of the toilet seat isn't as big of a deal as you thought it was. 

14. Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson

Buss and Jackson began dating in 1999 and are currently engaged. At the time they started dating, Buss was the Los Angeles Lakers' executive vice president, so, technically, Jackson's boss. Jackson then led his boss/girlfriend's team to five NBA titles before departing. That's power. Buss ultimately became team president after the death of her father, Jerry Buss, in 2013, while Jackson took the same role with the New York Knicks. If we hadn't been so familiar with the duo for so long, we might think the arrangement is impossible.

15. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf

In his book, "Open," Agassi details his disappointment of not being able to share the traditional Wimbledon champions' dance with Graf after they both won in 1992. They would, however, get that chance at the French Open in 1999, which is when Agassi credited their relationship taking off. Between them, Agassi and Graf, who married in 2001, have 30 Grand Slam titles, four Olympic medals, two backgrounds with overbearing fathers and an incredible legacy in their sport. The only question now will be whether their kids, 13-year-old Jaden Gil and 11-year-old Jaz Elle, will follow them into the sport.

Issue 214: October 2015