Most people become athletes for the love of competition and getting the chance to make the sport they enjoy a career for themselves. The chances of becoming a worldwide star often fall into place after they achieve the highest level of their athletic abilities. However, with sports now one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world, it is likely on the back of every athlete's mind that they have the chance to be known by millions of people if they become famous enough.
Not only does that mean people know who you are, it allows more opportunities for work after their careers are over. It opens them up to other work and sponsorship opportunities which is something athletes never turn down. Yet in some cases, select athletes manage to strike the double, not only becoming an athlete but also finding love in the form of another celebrity, who is even more famous than they are! This increases their fame and makes them known to more people.
That doesn't mean these athletes were handed the golden ticket. Some of them still live in the shadow of their more famous better half. Not all of these relationships went the distance, but rest assured that they definitely sky-rocketed these athletes to a new level of fame.
This list will look at some of those athletes, going into detail about 15 athletes who you never knew until they married celebrities.
15 Lamar Odom: Khloe Kardashian
Marrying into the Kardashian family is always going to raise your stock level in the eyes of the general public and that is exactly what happened for Lamar Odom, who is still being talked about to this day due to their divorce. The Kardashian family are one of the most talked about groups in pop culture.
As soon as Odom stepped into that life in 2009, he instantly became a name known by people around the world, even if they didn't care about the NBA.
Odom was never one of the most famous names in the world of basketball and even those who did know him were only the sport's biggest fans. Now he is a worldwide name thanks to his failed marriage to Khloe Kardashian.
14 Mike Fisher: Carrie Underwood
Let's be fair unless you're an NHL fan, the chances are you only really know of one of these names, and that is Carrie Underwood. She is one of the biggest names in the world of country singing with a legion of fans behind her.
Carrie always shows up to his games to support her husband, and of course, with that comes cameras who are happy to snap her in the moment, instantly giving Fisher a bigger name when he is spoken about in those circles. He also finds himself on red carpets and at music award shows which, again, increases his star power and allows many more people to know his name for the first time.
13 Travis Browne: Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey may very well be an athlete too, recently signing a full-time contract with WWE, but she has broken out of that barrier and is now firmly established as a star in the world of Hollywood. Rousey is one of MMA's biggest stars ever. She took the sport to a different level with her incredible record that changed women's fighting forever.
MMA also brought Rousey her husband (Travis Browne) who has benefitted incredibly from the relationship.
While his MMA record is also very impressive, he wasn't known on a global scale like Rousey or McGregor and now his stock has managed to rise due to being married to one of UFC's greats.
12 Marko Jaric: Adriana Lima
Marko Jaric has done an incredible job pinning down the Brazilian beauty that is Adriana Lima, one of the more gorgeous women on the planet. Lima is a supermodel of Victoria's Secret fame, a name that is known to fashion fans across the globe. They are no longer an item, but Lima made Jaric a household name.
Jaric had a seven-year NBA career and earned a solid living, but wasn't somebody who was known all across the world.
That's where Lima steps in, helping Jaric become a name known to more people due to her fame. Not only did she provide him with more fans to get behind him, but she no doubt brightened his life and it's fair to say many of Jaric's original fans were likely very jealous.
11 Eric Decker: Jessie James
This couple is incredibly supportive of each other's ventures and that certainly benefits each of them, but there is much doubt that Eric Decker would have been on his own reality show had he not got married to the popular country singer. NFL players rarely get their own shows on TV.
Putting yourself in the reality TV world opens you up to a whole different world of people who likely had never even heard of Eric until that point, instantly making him a bigger star than he ever had been. People likely began to show more focus on Eric because his wife was so supportive too. Having a popular singer sat cheering you on at games in oversized jerseys is always going to catch a camera or a headline in gossip magazines, only making him a bigger star in the process.
10 Mike Comrie: Hilary Duff
While Hilary Duff is one of the Disney kids who didn't have a nervous breakdown at some stage in her career, she is still a very well known celebrity because of her time on Lizzie McGuire. She has boosted former NHL player Mike Comrie's status among those who enjoyed her work.
Duff still works as an actress and singer to this day, but will always be remembered as a Disney star, something that will keep her famous for her entire career. Ice Hockey is a sport that hasn't quite become a global hit, unlike Lizzie McGuire. Because of that, people started to learn about Comrie and what he did for a living and certainly began to show him support. After all, Disney has some truly dedicated fans.
9 Nick Swisher: Joanna Garcia Swisher
MLB players tend to do rather well for themselves in the dating world, as this couple proves with Nick Swisher clearly out of his league here. But not only did he get lucky in finding a beautiful wife, he also found someone who brought him more fame.
Whether that's what he was looking for or not is unknown, but Joanna Garcia is certainly a bigger star than Nick.
When they married in 2010 she brought interest from the public to what both of them were doing. Garcia has had a long career in the world of Hollywood, working on many sitcoms before landing the lead in the series Privileged. Her fame certainly made Nick a bigger star. The couple now has a daughter together and are clearly enjoying life together.
8 Russel Wilson: Ciara
Both Russel Wilson and Ciara are well-known names in their own rights, and this relationship likely benefitted both of them. But for Wilson the relationship took him to another level, gaining fans outside the NFL.
Ciara, one of the most famous R&B singers with hit songs such as "1,2 Step" and "Promise" married the NFL star in a relationship that took a lot of people by surprise. It seemed highly unlikely at first, but certainly made many people in the music world stand up and take note of what Wilson was doing. The pair already has a daughter together, who was born in April of 2017, showing that their marriage is a strong one and is likely going to continue for the foreseeable future as they both look to grow together.
7 Ryan Miller: Noureen Dewulf
While Noureen Dewulf might not be the most well-known celebrity on this list, not quite making it to an A-List status in Hollywood, at this point she was a much bigger name than her husband Ryan Miller when the pair married. The NHL goalie was never really known outside of the fanbase of that sport.
Marrying Dewulf made him much more famous as he quickly started attending red carpet events.
With Dewulf being part of Charlie Sheen's Anger Management sitcom, she immediately became more well known amongst people. Now she stars in Hockey Wives, a reality show based on, you guessed it, wives of hockey stars which only helped grow Mille's status with reality binge watchers soon learning more about him through his wife.
6 Cutter Dysktra: Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Cutter Dysktra was always going to have a difficult time with his MLB career, being forced to follow up on what his father did throughout his life. He moved from club to club and struggled to make a real impact.
Thankfully for him, he did strike gold with his wife, actress Jamie-Lynn who has appeared in several hit shows such as Entourage and The Sopranos to name a few. Their relationship certainly saw people stand up and take notice of him. There is no doubt which one of the pair has had the most successful career. Luckily for Cutter, his wife has helped keep him relevant throughout time as her career continues to blossom.
5 Gerard Pique: Shakira
While Gerard Pique might be one of the top footballers in the world right now playing for giants Barcelona, he somehow managed to find himself a wife that was even more successful and popular than he was. In fairness to him, there are few people in the world less known than Shakira, but Pique did certainly become a bigger name once it was made known that the pair were an item.
He continues to be one of football's top stars and is set to go down as one of the all-time greats when he eventually hangs up his boots. But while Shakira continues to shake her hips, he will have the spotlight on him for many years to come.
4 Andy Roddick: Brooklyn Decker
Andy Roddick has had a very good career so far in Tennis and is certainly one of the game's greats. But sadly for him, he has had to compete with the likes of Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer throughout his career, meaning he was never quite the leading man for the sport.
People did begin to pay much more interest in him when he married the stunning Brooklyn Decker, the actress who had everyone talking about her when she starred in Adam Sandler's Just Go With It. Surprisingly, people started to pay more attention to Roddick and that totally didn't have anything to do with Decker's beach shots in Just Go With It.
3 David Otunga: Jennifer Hudson
The pair might have now split up, but there is no doubt that Jennifer Hudson played a massive role in helping David Otunga throughout his wrestling career. Otunga was never one of the most skilled athletes, but somehow has had an incredibly long career with the company, still being employed to this day.
Otunga has been used in a variety of roles for WWE over his time with them, and the fact he had the star power of being seen on red carpet events and popping up in conversations by Hudson on chat shows certainly played a role in that. Jennifer Hudson is a worldwide megastar and that is something that opened up WWE's eyes, realizing they had a chance to get some good publicity from her at times. Luckily for Otunga, the relationship certainly helped him in that regard.
2 Justin Verlander: Kate Upton
When your wife is Kate Upton, the chances are incredibly high that whoever you are, she is more famous and your life is about to get a lot busier with media, cameras and general interest from the public. That was even more true when she chose to marry MLB star, Justin Verlander, someone who wasn't used to that crazy lifestyle.
Verlander is a relative unknown outside the world of MLB but Upton managed to change that.
There is no surprise that Verlander is constantly uploading snaps of them together on his social media as he likely gets huge attention from them. It is fair to say this is one marriage that has totally changed an athletes life.
1 Ryan Sweeting: Kaley Cuoco
Unless you were a diehard tennis fan, the chances are you hadn't heard of Ryan Sweeting, with names like Roger Federer and Andy Murray being the ones which dominate all the headlines. However, that changed for Sweeting when he married Kaley Cuoco, the popular actress who plays Penny on the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Cuoco is a beloved star and is on one of the biggest shows in the world, something that is constantly on TV.
Even if you don't watch the show, you know who she is and that has helped Sweeting become a global name alongside her. Whether she is posting videos of them playing tennis together or simply being by his side, he is someone who is now requested for interviews because she has helped him become a star.