Ashley and Ben Roethlisberger have been happily married since 2011. As the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Carolina Panthers on Monday night, all eyes will be on Big Ben as he tries to help his team reach a 6-2 record on the season. Roethlisberger, 35, will have the support of his wife, who has been cheering him on since she met him in 2005.
“I’m a happier person, I’m in a happy place, but a lot of that has to do with her, too. People can say that it is whatever, but people who know and can see and are around us and know me, know that it’s something special when you find that person, and I’m extremely lucky,” Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette back in 2011.
The Roethlisbergers are proud parents to three children.
Here is what you need to know:
1. They Met Through Ashley’s Brother, Who Is a Big Fan of Ben
Roethlisberger met Ashley Harlan in 2005 in a very interesting way. The Steelers quarterback had been on campus at Saint Vincent when a fan went up to him and introduced himself. The two guys started talking and Roethlisberger met the fan’s sister, Ashley. Roethlisberger ended up thinking that she was cute and he asked her out on a date. For the next five years, the two got to know each other.
“We were kind of on and off for five years — almost six years now — so I’ve known her for a while. It’s not like a random new person. We dated a while ago; we have been friends ever since,” Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette in 2011.
In 2011, Roethlisberger revealed that he and Ashley planned to marry. After rumors that Roethlisberger was engaged surfaced, the public wanted to know everything about the woman who “changed” Big Ben and won his heart. A little over a year before Ben met Ashley, a female college student accused him of sexual assault. Roethlisberger was determined to move forward, and he did so with Ashley.
According to the Post-Gazette, however, Roethlisberger refused to talk about his personal life.
Nonetheless, details about Roethlisberger’s lady love started to come out. The Post-Gazette wrote that she was “a graduate of Laurel High School, where she was a softball star, and a 2008 graduate of St. Francis University in Loretto, Cambria County, with a bachelor’s degree in health science, and, a year later, a master’s of physicians assistant.”
2. Roethlisberger Tried to Shield Ashley From the Public Eye When They Started Dating
In April 2011, Roethlisberger was ready to open up — and he did so to Ed Bouchette of thePittsburgh Post-Gazette. Roethlisberger confirmed that he was planning to marry Ashley Harlan in June of that same year. He said that he was taken aback by the amount of attention his personal life had been receiving.
“I was surprised at how much media attention it was getting — it’s just an engagement. I never expected it to be on the front pages of all the papers and websites. There was speculation what our invitations would look like and who is coming! It almost seemed surreal, it was like a movie or something, it was weird,” he told the outlet.
Roethlisberger went on to talk about how keeping Ashley protected from the public eye was important to him.
“I try to protect her as much as I can. People have gone to her parents’ house and have been doing some things. That bothers me a little bit because it’s what I do for a living, I have to deal with it, but her parents and her, that’s not what they have to do. I understand it’s going to happen a little bit, but I’m still going to try to be very protective of the people I love — my family, my sister, my aunts, uncles, grandparents and now her. I try to be very protective of them because I don’t want her to have to be scrutinized over every little thing she does,” he told the outlet.
3. They Got Married in 2011
Roethlisberger and his wife tied the knot on June 23, 2011, at Christ Church at Grove Farm in Ohio Township, Pennsylvania. After the couple exchanged vows, they celebrated with family and friends at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Approximately 600 wedding guests partied the night away in the Spirit of America Ballroom, according to the Post-Gazette.
The Roethlisbergers chose a “silver, ivory, and blush pink color scheme” and their reception featured pink and white roses. The table centerpieces were made up of “a crystal centerpiece vase” that stood “more than 2 feet tall.”
“Guests’ plates were inscribed with the names of the bride and groom and the date. Beneath each plate there were tea towels embroidered with the letter R. Another personal touch was sofa pillows embroidered with the letters A and B with a big R. Guests dined on filet and halibut prepared by Common Plea Restaurant and Catering on Ross Street, Downtown.”
Vanilla Pastry Studio was responsible for the couple’s stunning six-tier wedding cake. The bakery, which is now closed, created two flavors for the cake. One was a “vanilla bean buttercream cake with fresh berries” and was served to the women, while the other was a “cookies and cream cake served with a chocolate-dipped strawberry,” which was served to the men.
4. They Have 3 Children Together
The Roethlisbergers are proud parents to three children, Benjamin, Baylee, and Bodie.
The couple found out they were pregnant just after their wedding. In November 2012, they welcomed their first born, a son they named Benjamin Jr.
“It puts things into perspective. For me it’s like what’s important. You don’t really know love until you have a child and it’s pretty cool. I got up early and he was awake so we were playing this morning before I left to go to practice. The changes you see every day are just awesome,” Roethlisberger told WDVE Radio.
Two years later, the Roethlisbergers became a family of four, welcoming daughter Baylee Marie on March 19, 2014.
Their most recent addition, Bodie Roethlisberger, was born on May 26, 2016.
5. They Requested Charitable Donations in Lieu of Wedding Gifts & Are Dedicated to Charity Work
Roethlisberger and his wife-to-be decided to make a special request for their wedding day. Although the couple did register for quite a few gifts, they wanted their wedding guests to make donations to his charitable effort, Ben Roethlisberger’s Foundation.
“I don’t know if it’s ever been done before, but it’s something I wanted to do and she’s on board. We’re just hoping that people who come to the wedding give a dollar or a thousand dollars or whatever it is, and at the end we’ll put it all together and write a big check to Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital and put everyone’s name who donated,” Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette two months before his wedding day.
Below is a description of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
“The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation seeks to support police and fire departments throughout the U.S. with a particular emphasis on support for K-9 units and service dogs. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation also works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For the past several years, Ben has devoted his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of his passion to help children. One of the most memorable of these Make-A-Wish moments was when he met 14-year old Akeem Havens, who signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in May of 2008 to become one of Ben’s go-to wide receivers for the day!”
More recently, the foundation partnered with The Giving Back Fund and issued has issued several grants thus far in 2018.
“The Giving Back Fund (GBF) is a national nonprofit organization that encourages and facilitates charitable giving by professional athletes, celebrities, high net worth individuals, existing nonprofit organizations, corporations and others who truly desire to give back. We provide philanthropic consulting, management and administrative services while operating as a flexible, convenient vehicle for establishing individual foundations and fiscally sponsored projects under a governance structure like that of a community foundation. By offering a straightforward and cost-effective approach to philanthropy, high-level expertise and professional services, and carefully targeted giving opportunities, GBF helps those who want to give back to society and to the communities that have nurtured them.”
On November 1, it was reported that grants were to be distributed to the Annapolis Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
The Annapolis Police Department planned to use the grant “to purchase needed safety equipment for their K-9 unit,” according to the foundation’s website. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office had planned to use the funds “to replace a recently retired dog.”
“We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we are able to help these K-9 units. The work that is performed by the dogs and their handlers as well as the bond that is formed is incredible. We’re just thrilled to do our small part,” Roethlisberger said.