Between them, they possess two Super Bowl rings and four Olympic gold medals, plus six national championships from their days as University of Texas student-athletes. Indeed, theirs is a love match etched in the blood, sweat, and tears only world-class, competitive athletes can appreciate.
Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards-Ross met as students on the UT campus, he a cornerback and she a sprinter. Aaron, known to most as simply “Ross,” actually spied his future wife while he was in the stands at the 2003 Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, but Richards-Ross claims she was the one who actually made the first move, almost a year later at a campus cafeteria.
“I called this sexy man over, and the rest is history,” Richards-Ross said.
Married since 2010, these best friends and training partners support each other in their athletic endeavors and inspire each other to make the daily sacrifices required of world champions. Austin Fit Magazine recently visited with Mr. and Mrs. Ross in their Austin-area home to discuss life in their unique fast lane.
Question & Answer
You both have made your mark as competitive athletes. But are you competitive with one another, at home?
AR: Yes, we are. It’s mainly over little friendly things, nothing real serious.
SR-R: We will get in a fight over the Wii game and bowling.
What is your favorite thing to play together?
SR-R: Bowling. We love to go bowling. He’s yet to beat me, so that’s why we keep going.
Was that your first date, bowling?
AR: Our first activity date was bowling, but not the first date.
SR-R: Our first date, we went to Bennigan’s. And then we went to church on Sunday. That was our second date, and I knew, “He’s the one.”
Ross, how would you beat Sanya in a race?
AR: I guess I’d just trip her. That’s the only way.
Sanya, if you were lining up against Ross as a receiver, how would you beat him?
SR-R: He doesn’t have a major weakness off the line. I guess I’d have to just out-run him, or distract him.
Who is the more health-conscious?
SR-R: I think I am. I’ve grown up that way. My parents are really clean eaters. Our family didn’t eat red meat. When Ross met me, he stopped eating pork. We definitely eat healthy.
AR: I’m a Texas boy, so I like to eat everything.
SR-R: He’s really good with his water intake. I think I’ve learned from him, because I’m not so much a water person.
What is your favorite treat meal?
SR-R: I could eat pizza every day, so that’s my struggle.
AR: Sweets. Any candy. Skittles, we both really like.
Do you think your success as individuals is because, together, you make a supportive team?
SR-R: We’re a great team. We always seem to go through the same things at the same time. It’s crazy. It helps us, because we can comfort each other and motivate each other to be doing extra work if we need to.
Who will be the stricter parent?
AR: (Laughs) She will. She definitely will.
SR-R: I’m a drill sergeant. I’m a strict disciplinarian. I even see it with my godchildren, and my sister says I’m really mean, but the kids love me. Because I was disciplined growing up, I always knew the rules, and I always wanted to do the right things. I had great structure, and I think it helped me to be the person I am. So I’m going to ensure that my kids are the same.
Will you let them find their own way to sports?
AR: I think they’ll pick which sport, but I’m definitely going to push them to play some type of sport. The decision is theirs on which one.
SR-R: I’ve learned so many great life lessons through sport, and I want them to experience that. Even if they never take it to the next level, it’s something that forces you to set goals and work hard. It’s important in life.
2003–04: Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards begin dating as University of Texas student-athletes.
Richards wins first gold medal as part of 4×400 relay squad at Athens Olympics.
2005: Ross and Texas Football win national championship with 41-38 Rose Bowl win against Southern California.
2006: Ross claims Jim Thorpe Award as nation’s best defensive back.
Richards runs 48.70 in Athens to set new American record.
2007: Ross is selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the New York Giants. With Ross starting at CB, the Giants go on to win Super Bowl XLII.
2008: Richards wins second gold medal with 4×400 relay and first individual Olympic medal (400m, bronze) in Beijing.
2009: Running 49-flat, Richards claims her first individual world title at the World Championships in Berlin.
2010: The couple is married on Feb. 26, 2010 in Austin, Texas — also Richards-Ross’ 25th birthday.
2011: Capping a season with 60 tackles, a career high, Ross wins his second Super Bowl with the New York Giants.
2012: Richards-Ross wins two gold medals (400m, 4x400m) at the London Olympics. Her victory in the 400m marks her first individual Olympic gold medal.