Quarterback Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders will take on the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.
Cheering Carr on will be his wife, Heather, whom he married in 2012. She has been his rock for several years now and often shows support for him on social media.
“Happy Birthday to my best friend, hubby, & baby daddy! I love you, Derek Carr. I hope we make your day so special just like you are! I’m so thankful God chose me to be your wife,” Heather captioned an Instagram photo on her husband’s birthday back in March.
The Carrs live in California with their two boys, Dallas and Deker.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She’s Originally From Fresno & Was a Cheerleader in High School
When the Raiders make the move to Las Vegas in 2019, it’ll mark a significant change for the former Heather Neel, as it will mark the first time that she’s lived outside of Northern California.
She was a graduate of Fresno Christian High School and chose to stay home for college when she selected Fresno State, where she was a cheerleader.
Although Fresno isn’t considered part of the Bay Area, it is just 180 miles away from the East Bay and Oakland, which made it the closest NFL city to Fresno State when the Raiders selected Carr in 2014.
The move to Nevada will see the Carr family trade the winds of the East Bay for the desert of southern Nevada, but the positive side of things for Heather Carr is that she won’t be drastically far from her hometown. At 396 miles from Fresno, Las Vegas is a mere hour’s flight away, making her the rare athlete’s wife who will get to be with her husband without having to completely leave her family behind.
2. She Worked as a Waitress Through College & Met Carr While on a Shift
Throughout high school and college, Heather worked at a BJ’s Brewhouse to help bring in money while completing her studies. Little did she know that she’d end up meeting the man she’d marry — in a way that she never expected.
While working a shift, Carr was one of her customers and asked her why she only had one earring on. She quickly went off to check to make sure that she hadn’t lost one… and quickly realized that she had both of them in place. Carr had simply been messing with her to get her to talk to him.
The ploy ended up working perfectly. Heather was surprised enough by Carr’s line that she went back and talked with him.
“I had like diamond earrings in my ear and I had them both, I knew I did. And he said, ‘Why are you only wearing one earring?’ And it made me check my ears. And I was like, ‘that’s your pick up line?’ [It worked] it did work. I talked to him,” Heather recalled during an interview with ABC7.
3. She Was Able to Get Derek Carr to Change His Partying Ways by Writing Him a Letter
Even though Heather had the perfect situation on paper in terms of being able to date the most well-known athlete at Fresno State, things were far from perfect inside the relationship. The reason was simple: Heather Feel was a devout Christian who lived her faith every day of her life. Carr, well, didn’t.
Though he had grown up in a Christian family and had graduated from Bakersfield Christian High School, he was proving to be far more interested in living the life of a college partier than in developing his relationship with Jesus Christ. Compared to the man who had told Heather how much his faith supposedly meant to him, this was a drastic difference — and it wasn’t one that she could accept.
She chose to write him a letter that essentially said that the person Derek Carr presented himself as and the real Derek Carr were actually two completely different people, and if he wanted her to stay with him, he had to fix that immediately.
Carr got the message, and nobody was happier about it than his family. Carr’s father Rodger had seen Derek stepping into the school where his older brother David had dominated, and he’d been letting the success go to his head.
“Heather actually wrote me a letter and she said, ‘You’re not the person that I thought you were.’ I read that and I remember I stood up in front of my teammates and I told them, ‘Hey, I’ve been telling you I’m a Christian and I’ve been living the party life and all that. And that’s dead wrong.’ And that’s kind of when I got my thing right,” Carr told the Los Angeles Times.
4. She’s Been Married to Derek Carr Since College
While Carr was developing into a top quarterback on the field at Fresno State, he was also becoming the kind of person Heather thought she was getting when she first met him. On July 10, 2012, Heather Neel officially became Heather Carr.
Not coincidentally, their marriage coincided with Carr’s two best seasons as a Bulldog. In his final two years at Fresno State, the newly married Carr tossed 87 touchdown passes against 15 interceptions and led Fresno State to a 20-6 record over that stretch.
The couple has been happily married ever since, enjoying life in California.
5. She Has 2 Children With Carr
If Heather’s letter was the start of Derek Carr beginning to grow up, the birth of their first son, Dallas, was the completion of the process.
In August of 2013, the couple welcomed their first child, a son they named Dallas. When Dallas was born, however, he had some health issues. Just 12 hours after he was born, Dallas underwent emergency surgery at Children’s Hospital Central California to untangle his intestines.
A couple of days later, Dallas had to have surgery again. At the time, Carr was at the Fresno State practice field. Offensive Coordinator Dave Shramm approached him before his workout, according to ABC7.
“He grabs me and tells me Dallas has to have another surgery. I remember I just put my head down and I’m glad I had my helmet on cuz I just started crying. He said, ‘You know I love you. I know your faith and your family is more important,'” Carr recalled.
Two weeks later, Dallas underwent a third surgery. He was discharged a short while later, however, and has been healthy ever since.
In 2016, he became a big brother. Heather and Derek welcomed another baby boy, Deker, who made them a family of four.