Russell Wilson set the bar high.
When you come out of the gate with a mid-vacation proposal in the Seychelles followed by a wedding in an actual castle in Cheshire, England, well, it starts to feel like there's nowhere left to go but down. But when it comes to his four-year marriage with effervescent pop star Ciara, she of the magical hips, tireless work ethic and the catchy No. 1 singles, all the Seattle Seahawks quarterback does is win.
Using a football as life metaphor, the Super Bowl champion shared how welcoming daughter Sienna Princess Wilson in 2017 (Ciara also has 6-year-old old Future Zahir Wilburn with former rapper fiancé Future) has given him even more drive to score. "I don't just play for my family that I've had before, but also my new family," he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 2017. "Just playing for the little ones, playing for Ciara too and playing for my teammates and trying to do everything that I can to be the best that I possibly can be. I'm truly grateful every day to get to come home and it puts a smile on my face every time."
He, in turn, has made it his mission to keep his wife grinning. "To share a special moment and a lifetime with somebody that you truly love and really cares about you is amazing," he told E! News of the "Level Up" singer, expecting their family's fifth member more or less any day now.
That's just how you do when you've landed your actual dream girl. "Funny thing is, I told somebody that that's the girl I wanted to be with before I ever met her," the devoted Christian shared during a talk at The Rock Church in San Diego, soon after they began dating in 2015. Having split with his former high school sweetheart Ashton Meem one year earlier and watched the 34-year-old Grammy winner undergo a painful breakup and vicious custody battle with her ex-fiancé, the 31-year-old just felt like he was meant to be with the woman who shared his strong faith, family values, drive and enviable muscle tone.
The 2012 Rookie of the Year "is behind and supportive of Ciara in so many ways," an insider tells E! News. "Their connection is unbreakable. He is very into God and believes they were destined for each other."
Just weeks into their marriage, the onetime professional baseball player was able to prove his vows weren't just talk. When he and Ciara—who famously abstained from sex ahead of their July 2016 vows, an especially tough task because as he told The Rock Church's Pastor Miles McPherson, "If there's a 10, she's a 15,"—learned they were expecting Sienna, Wilson proved to be the ultimate team player. He helped indulge her cravings for morning huevos rancheros and water with lemon and was never stingy with affection.
"I'm always pampering!" he insisted to People. "It's a special time in our life."
By that November she was able to tell E! News at the American Music Awards, "I've finally gotten to a place where I feel almost normal. It was a bit of, I don't want to throw up, but I don't feel regular for awhile. That's almost worse, you'd rather just throw up and get it done! But I'm feeling good." And for those days when the queasiness returned or the exhaustion was overwhelming, she had a great cheerleader in Wilson, the man she's called her "champion."
Noting the athlete is "really the best husband," one pal praised his ability to "always make Ciara feel perfect even if she is not feeling it herself."
So, yeah, tagging the duo with the relationship goals label isn't exactly out of line. "I'm very blessed with having the best support system that I could ever ask for or ever dream of," the singer gushed during a January 2017 Facebook Live session. "My husband is pretty awesome...You see Russell playing on the field; he's that same person at home. I think even cooler! He's an awesome support system to me and best friend so that makes a world of difference."
When Sienna arrived that April, the Virginia native surprised precisely no one with his top-notch fathering skills. After all, he'd already embraced Future, barely 10 months old when Wilson first fell for Ciara, as his own, telling People, "I've always had that thrill having little man there."
Because if you ask him, he was the lucky one in this scenario. "Being a stepdad... has taught me, really, what love is like, what life is really like, [and] how God intends us to love," he shared in a recent interview on Good Morning America.
For Ciara, watching him fully embrace his new teammate was the moment when she knew she'd found her person—the one who left her entirely at peace. "I never had that feeling in my life...it was just calm," she shared during a candid 2019 interview on Red Table Talk. "To love me, is to love my son. It's just a different level of love."
Having been raised to be the type of person who uses his powers of fame for good, Wilson is a regular visitor to the Seattle Children's Hospital, calling his Tuesday outings "the best day of the week for me," in a 2018 interview with GQ, "since I get to see the kids. I'm praying for a glimpse of hope for them."
It's an activity he and Ciara have grown to enjoy doing together, along with their work for their Why Not You Foundation that partners with other organizations supporting children's health, education and access to the arts. "It just reminds you of why you do what you do," she shared with E! News. "It puts things in perspective and it's a beautiful thing. We both really enjoy that and I think there's no greater feeling than knowing that you're actually making a difference in someone's life."
For the past several years, Wilson has been doing that work on a macro level, both with his own children and the kids he visits each week. "This dude was made to be a dad," an insider told E! News. "He has always surrounded himself with children, whether he was helping them through his charities or working with them during football season."
After Sienna's arrival he couldn't help bragging about his new sidekick, capturing each milestone with his phone and firing the photos off to his closest pals. "He keeps gushing about her," the insider noted. "He jokes and says, 'I will never let her out of my sight.'"
His devotion didn't escape Ciara's notice, the "Love Sex Magic" singer falling a little harder each day. "He's been such an incredible father since day one," the Pandora ambassador told E! News in 2018 at a brunch celebrating their new Mother's Day Collection. "He's so loving and very patient. He also likes to have fun—he's very spontaneous and we just have a good time as a family."
No wonder she told Jada Pinkett Smith she'd like "at least" two more kids. (Well, at least one more after welcoming her new little guy this year.)
Even while presumably wiped from late nights and endless diaper changes, Wilson didn't miss the chance to go all out for their first anniversary in 2017. Ciara was able to sneak in one surprise, hiring a plane to fly a jubilant message over the Mexican resort they were visiting. "I was sitting down in the kitchen and she had this cool banner going by. I was like, 'What is that?'" he recalled to E! News'. But he took the lead on setting up the rest of their celebration.
"I tried to plan things for the day, but he wouldn't let me," Ciara wrote on Instagram. Though it's hard to complain when your day begins with a message drawn out in red rose petals. "We had a lot of fun too," Wilson said. "A lot of romantic time, so, that's always good."
The mom of two dubbed his work "perfect" and yet a year later he found a way to best himself, finally treating his bride to a honeymoon that took them from Toyko to China to Cape Town and finally Botswana.
"I tried to take her on a four-day honeymoon, but she said that didn't count. She said for the ladies, it gotta be seven days or more," he explained in an Instagram video. So he dutifully set out to plan an extravagant vacation, surprising his wife with each stop. As he bragged during the video, featuring the ultra-fit couple in their natural state on side-by-side ellipticals, "She don't even know where we're going to next."
Not that the pair need an occasion per se, to go all out celebrating their fanciful romance.
In September 2017, the fact that it was Saturday was enough for Wilson, who elevated date night by closing down the Seattle Art Museum so his queen could frolic (and Instagram) in peace. "When Ya Man Shuts Down The Museum For #DateNight," she captioned one video of the dreamy experience. "Still Got My Head Spinnin'."
Now marking their fourth anniversary today, Ciara has adjusted to the near permanent giddiness. While their life isn't always, say, tobogganing on the Great Wall of China or attending Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot in a hat and tails, she feels equally blissed out hitting up her local Seattle grocery in sweatpants or helping her little "rock star" Future perfect his Michael Jackson-inspired moonwalk.
Or, really, anytime she gets to watch her man do his thing, whether that's lead his team toward the end zone or guide their kids toward adulthood. "It's just really sweet to see him," she told E! News. "Sometimes I just sit back and I smile, and he's looking at me like, 'What are you smiling for?' 'Oh, for so many reasons.'"
To name one: Wilson flexed his devoted dad muscle, turning up to Ciara's April ultrasound appointment, even though the coronavirus outbreak meant he'd be relegated to watching through FaceTime in the car.
Really, her life looks a lot like what she envisioned when, as a freshman at Georgia's Riverdale High, she wrote out her three-pronged approach for entertainment domination. First, she'd get discovered, which she did, signing with her first label, LaFace Records, at age 16, then release an album that would move at least 3 million copies. (Her 2004 debut Goodies actually sold 5 million.) "My third goal," she detailed to Harper's Bazaar last year, "was to have longevity."
In the 16 years since her initial release, she's put out an additional six albums, notched 13 Billboard Hot 100 top-ten singles, earned two BET Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, plus a Grammy. And yet her most treasured moments are entirely ordinary. Like, say, the time she placed Sienna in Future's miniature Jeep-shaped bed and watched as he took care to protect her fragile head.
"There's something really sweet about how they are, they're so delicate but she's so tough at the same time," she told E! News of watching her brood. "So that's been really amazing to see and experience—it is a difference you know. It's hard to describe, but you feel it. It's been really fun."
And while the singer isn't short on ambition—"No dream is too big," she told Cosmopolitan in 2018 year. "I want to be a billionaire,"—her biggest goals revolve around her union with Wilson and the family they've built together.
"I think my greatest accomplishment 10 years from now is that I would have a successful life as it pertains to my marriage and being a mom," she shared with the mag. "It's cool to want to do all these creative things, but it's no good to gain the world if you lose your soul."
A decade into the future Wilson will have cycled through some 14 anniversary destinations and endless words of praise, and yet we have no doubt he'll have come up with a thoughtful, almost unbelievable way to honor their love.
As he once promised his bride, "Wherever you wanna go... I'll take you."
(Originally published Oct. 25, 2018, at 3:00 a.m. PT)