Athletes Who Performed Better the Year Following Their Marriage

A header image for a blog about the impact of marriage on athlete performance
A header image for a blog about the impact of marriage on athlete performance

You might have noticed that at Shane Co., we’re way into exploring new ideas and studying fascinating relationship-related topics and questions to which a quick Google search just can’t do justice. This time, we wanted to see if there was any correlation between getting married and better athletic performance for pro athletes. We looked at post-marriage year stats for 70 athletes across different professional team sports to see who brought up their averages after taking the plunge.

Okay, so we can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that getting married is the key to athletic success. After all, a lot goes into how an athlete performs, and it would be naïve to think that marriage was the silver bullet behind every win. But that doesn’t make the results of our study any less interesting. Whatever the reason, these athletes definitely killed it in the year following their marriage — let’s take a look!

NBA Players Who Improved the Year Following Their Marriage

A graphic showing NBA players who performed better the year following their marriage

From point guards to centers and everyone in between, our data shows plenty of NBA stars who made significant strides in the year after saying “I do.”

From dropping dimes to draining threes, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is known for his ability to do a bit of everything on the court. He averaged 6.5 more points per game and won the NBA MVP Award for the 2020–21 season in the year following his marriage.

Eight-time NBA All-Star Anthony Davis capitalized on a post-marriage bump and started cleaning the glass more than ever. The power forward and center for the LA Lakers averaged 2.0 more rebounds per game after tying the knot in 2021. 

New Orleans Pelicans power forward Larry Nance, Jr., son of former NBA star Larry Nance, Sr., started seeing the court better post-marriage, as he added 2.0 more assists per game the year following his nuptials.

New York Knick Julius Randle got hitched in 2017. The following year, he increased his field goal percentage by 7%. Could this increase in accuracy be attributed to easing into married life? We’d like to think so!

NFL Players Who Improved the Year Following Their Marriage

A graphic showing NFL players who performed better the year following their marriage

From pass-catching receivers and tight ends to hard-throwing quarterbacks, these NFL players stepped up their game in a big way!

In the year following his 2016 marriage, tight end Kyle Rudolph averaged 3.69 more targets per game and 2.13 more receptions for the Minnesota Vikings. Known for playing over 400 snaps every year of his career, Rudolph is an iron man of sorts and currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A wide receiver for the Las Vegas Raiders, Davante Adams increased his average yards per game by 29.19 in the year following his 2018 marriage (when he played for the Green Bay Packers). He has earned a reputation for his strong hands and ability to catch difficult passes and routinely finds himself in the Pro Bowl.

Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz averaged 0.29 more touchdowns per game (or 4.0 more for the whole season) after he tied the knot in 2017. His wife Julie, a soccer star, also saw a boost that year; read on for the stats!

When it comes to quarterbacks, a few jumped out when it comes to the post-marriage bump. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins improved his completion rate by 9.5%, his YPG by 254, and his QBR by 15.5 points in the year after his 2019 marriage. Of course, he also saw the field much more that year but maybe his marriage gave him the confidence to make that leap in playing time.

Matthew Stafford, a quarterback for 2022 Super Bowl champions the Los Angeles Rams, achieved 0.63 more touchdowns per game (or 10 more for the whole season) in the year following his 2015 wedding.

MLB Players Who Improved the Year Following Their Marriage

A graphic showing MLB players who performed better the year following their marriage

Regarding post-wedding year improvements, Major League Baseball players have their share with pitchers and sluggers taking their games to the next level!

After taking the plunge in 2014, San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop Manny Machado (who at the time played for the Baltimore Orioles) had a great next season boasting 90 more hits, 23 more home runs, and 54 more RBIs than the prior year. (Machado famously made Major League Baseball history by hitting a home run in each of his first four games with a new team.)

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit 23 more home runs and brought home MVP in 2022 after getting married in 2021. Talk about having a year!

The youngest player in history to be selected as an MLB All-Star (at age 19) and current Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper brought up his batting average by .076 in the year following his 2016 wedding ceremony.

Sluggers didn’t have all the fun, though, as Josh Hader, currently pitching for the San Diego Padres, decreased his ERA by 1.39 during the year after his marriage in 2017 as a part of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob deGrom got hitched in 2014 when he played for the New York Mets. During the following year, he walked five fewer batters. Corbin Burnes threw a whopping 146 more strikeouts for the Milwaukee Brewers after getting married in 2020. That year he pitched to an 11-5 record, had an ERA of 2.43, was named an All-Star, and won the NL Cy Young Award.

Female Athletes Who Improved the Year Following Their Marriage

A graphic showing female athletes who performed better the year following their marriage

Of course, it’s not only male athletes that benefit from a matrimonial boost. We found that female athletes also saw improvement after tying the knot!

Phoenix Mercury point guard and WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith brought up her PPG and APG by 5.4 and 2.4, respectively, in the year following her 2017 wedding.

Well known for her versatility on the court, Candace Parker (now retired) boosted her RBP and FG% by 3.3 and 8.8% following getting hitched in 2019.

NWSL midfielder and Portland Thorns defender Crystal Dunn achieved 0.34 more goals and assists per 90 minutes in the year following her 2018 marriage. Notably, Dunn is also a star for the United States Women’s National Team.

Julie Ertz got married to NFL star Zach Ertz in 2017. The couple met at a college baseball game, and the rest is history! Zach was an All-American at Stanford and Julie was an All-American at Santa Clara University. During the next year playing in the NWSL, Julie scored 4.0 more goals and had 3.0 more assists than the year before as a midfielder for the Chicago Red Stars!

Closing Thoughts

Whether or not you think these stats are directly related to marriage, there’s no doubt that many athletes across the board see an improvement in their careers after tying the knot. We think part of this might have to do with the extra love, support, and motivation these athletes receive from their significant others. Still, it’s important to remember that a lot of hard work and dedication goes into honing pro-level athletic skills.

At Shane Co., we never underestimate the power of love and the incredible (and often unexpected) ways it can affect our lives. If you’re considering tying the knot, Shane Co. has you covered with our extensive collection of engagement rings for any style and budget.


To determine professional athletes who had an increase in performance after getting married, we started by compiling a list of the top athletes from team sports in the U.S. using websites like Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and Sporting News. We then found the ones who were married at the time of data collection using public information websites like Wikipedia. Finally, we went to Sports-Reference pages for each athlete and compared their statistics from the year before they got married to the year after they got married.

In all, we compared statistics from one year to the next for 70 athletes across different professional team sports. It’s important to note that if an athlete had an injury that kept them out of many games the year before or after their marriage, we compared the next-closest years. 

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