Who Is Kealia Ohai? The Scoop On J.J. Watt's Wife

In October 2022, Arizona Cardinals defensive end, J.J. Watt, and his wife, the soccer star Kealia Ohai, welcomed their first child to the world. In a joint Instagram post, the pair shared a photo of themselves embracing their new baby, along with the caption, "Love and happiness have reached heights we never even knew existed." The pair first began dating in 2016 and later tied the knot in 2020. Both professional athletes, this duo has a lot in common, so their fairytale romance is perhaps no surprise.

While Ohai's career can often be overshadowed by her husband's, she has accomplished a lot during her time as a professional soccer player. As of this writing, she's a forward for the National Women's Soccer League team, the Chicago Red Stars. According to the Houston Chronicle, she began playing soccer at the age of four and was a star player throughout high school and college. In 2010, Ohai even became the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's National High School Player of the Year, before going on to thrive during her time at the University of North Carolina. Interestingly, she wasn't the only athlete in her household growing up. Her sister, Megan Cushing, is a former captain of the University of Southern California soccer team, so it seems that talent runs in the family.

From her sporting achievements to her personal life, there's plenty more to know about Kealia Ohai.

Her career ascent has been impressive

In 2014, Kealia Ohai joined her first post-college team and signed with Houston Dash. The star had been on the team for six years when she joined the Chicago Red Stars, sharing a message of gratitude after her transfer was announced. "I want to thank the entire Houston organization and the wonderful fans for my last 6 years as a Dash player," Ohai said, per Click 2 Houston. "I have created lasting friendships and Houston will always be my home. I'm excited for a new opportunity with Chicago and to become the best player I can be." On Twitter, J.J. Watt shared his support for his then-fiancee after she made the big announcement, writing, "Very proud of you and excited for you!! I'll hold it down here, you dominate in Chicago!."

Although it may seem that Ohai is a natural on the field, she's worked hard to get to where she is in her career. In fact, the athlete revealed to ESPN that skeptics doubted she'd have the opportunity to play for the U.S. women's soccer team. "I can feel they didn't think I would ever get called in, or it's probably not going to happen for me," she said. Luckily, the soccer star proved those who doubted her wrong when she was first invited to play for the team in a game against Switzerland back in 2016.

She's legally blind in her right eye

Kealia Ohai's athleticism is incredibly impressive given she lives with an attribute some might consider a disadvantage. As a child, the star experienced a severe astigmatism which left her legally blind in her right eye – but she hasn't let that hold her back. While speaking with Chicago Sun-Times in 2020, Ohai revealed that her parents helped her have a positive outlook on her condition. "When I hear the way people react to it, I say 'If I was thinking that my whole life, I might have thought I can't play professional soccer ... because my eyes are bad,'" she explained. "I never thought twice about it growing up because that's the way my parents raised me."

Still, growing up with impaired vision had its challenges. Speaking with the Houston Chronicle, Ohai shared that she was bullied by classmates after showing up to school with a patch over her eye. "I was really young, so I think I've suppressed some of those memories," She said of her classmates' teasing. "I only wore it for like six months, but it was really difficult. They would make fun of me a little bit, but I was OK." The athlete went on to explain that as she grew up, she was able to adapt to the challenges of her eyesight, which can affect her depth perception in everyday life. 

Kealia Ohai had to take a break from soccer

In 2017, Kealia Ohai tore her ACL during a game and sadly had to sit out for the remainder of that season. Although this knee injury was likely incredibly difficult for the star to endure as a professional soccer player, she still managed to remain positive. "I am devastated but so excited to start my recovery and get back on the field," the athlete wrote as part of a larger statement shared to Twitter. "... I am equally thankful for the best of times and the worst. They shape us into who we are meant to become."

Ohai had J.J. Watt's support throughout her recovery journey, and he also had her support when he endured a leg injury on the football field, per Sports Illustrated. The couple recovered from their injuries in the house together, with the Chicago Red Stars player tackling her own difficult rehabilitation while also caring for her then-boyfriend. As noted by the outlet, they had only been dating for two months at this point. "Neither of us could feel too sorry for ourselves because the other one was going through the exact same thing," she said of their respective recovery journeys. Watt was grateful that he didn't have to go through the tough time on his own, and suggested that Ohai kept his spirits high. "Having somebody to go through it with makes the bad days so much better," he told the outlet. 

Her brother-in-law is former NFL star, Brian Cushing

Both Kealia Ohai and her sister, Megan Cushing née Ohai, were skilled and highly celebrated college soccer players. This is only one of many things the sisters have in common, as the two sporty siblings also both married NFL players. In fact, it was Megan's husband, Brian Cushing, who apparently introduced J.J. Watt to his future wife, per People. The two football stars were both playing for the Houston Texans at the time. 

It seems that Brian has been supportive of Kealia's soccer career over the years. He even congratulated the athlete after she was drafted by Houston Dash in 2014. The football player took to Twitter (via Deseret News) to write, "Congrats to my sister-in-law [Kealia Ohai] #2 pick in the NWSL draft to the [Houston Dash] couldn't be happier!" 

As for Kealia's relationship with Megan, the sisters aren't afraid to show their support for one another. Back in 2013, Kealia took to Twitter to wish her sister a happy birthday. Two years on, Megan was all smiles when she snapped a selfie with her sibling. Of course, Kealia also spends tons of time with her sister's little ones and proudly documents their special moments together on Instagram.

Kealia's husband is quick to come to her defense

It seems that J.J. Watt will protect Kealia Ohai at all costs. In 2020, the local news station, ABC13 Houston, shared a tweet that the football star wasn't a fan of. The Twitter post in question was promoting a story about Ohai joining the Chicago Red Stars. The issue? It didn't address the soccer player by name. Instead, it referred to her as "J.J. Watt's fiancee." This caught the Cardinal's defensive end's attention, and he made it clear that he didn't want his football fame to overshadow his then-fiancée's accomplishments.

"This headline is trash," the NFL star tweeted in response. "Kealia Ohai (which is her name by the way, since you didn't even bother to mention it) is incredible entirely on her own merit and deserves to be treated as such. Be better than this." During an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Ohai shared her opinion that tweets such as this one propagate the idea that women's sporting achievements are worth less than those of their male counterparts. "These headlines and these stories just fuel that. Until that changes, we can't change society. We can't change the narrative about equal pay; we can't change any of it," she reasoned.

She and J.J. Watt had a very sweet engagement

Kealia Ohai and J.J. Watt got engaged in 2019, during a romantic champagne breakfast enjoyed next to the ocean. On Twitter, the football star shared pictures of the proposal, which appeared to take place just as the sun was rising. Per ABC13 Houston, during a press conference, Ohai revealed that her then-fiance popped the question on a pier in the Bahamas. She became suspicious when she noticed a drone fly overhead, and Watt put an end to her speculation when he finally got down on one knee. The soccer star also shared that becoming a wife wasn't going to be a huge transition because she and Watt already felt like a married couple.

After accepting his proposal, the Cardinals star made the moment all the more special by flying Ohai's loved ones out to Houston, Texas to celebrate the happy news with the couple. On Instagram, the Chicago Red Stars forward shared a clip of the sweet surprise, along with some details about the effort that Watt went to for the occasion. "Can't explain how thankful and happy I am feeling. JJ surprised me by flying in my family and best friends to celebrate our engagement," she wrote in the caption. "I was so excited and shocked all I could do was cry ... I am the luckiest girl in the world and will never ever forget this special day. I love you all so much."

Kealia Ohai and J.J. Watt's fairytale wedding

Kealia Ohai and J.J. Watt went on to tie the knot in 2020 in the Bahamas, which was also the place they got engaged. The couple got married at The Ocean Club, a luxurious Four Seasons Resort often visited by celebrities. They shared photos of their lush wedding ceremony with People, and it appears that everything went according to plan. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case for the couple's honeymoon as the COVID-19 lockdown period meant the couple had to remain in isolation following their wedding. "Obviously, having a nationwide quarantine right after your wedding isn't exactly how you planned the honeymoon phase," Watt told People during an interview. Still, the newlyweds enjoyed their time together nonetheless. "We got a chance to spend a lot of time together, to train, and just to be together after our wedding," he said of living in isolation with his new wife. 

Only months after getting married, the couple was sadly forced to spend time apart. The Chicago Red Stars had to form a quarantine bubble in order to compete in the Challenge Cup tournament, and Ohai had to move out to do so. Speaking to People, Watt revealed that he wasn't allowed to see his wife for almost two months. "It's very bittersweet because I love — I absolutely love — watching her play soccer. I love watching her compete. I love watching her play. For me, it's Incredible," he said.

She enjoys a competitive marriage with J.J. Watt

As you might imagine given the fact that they are both professional athletes, J.J. Watt and Kealia Ohai appear to enjoy competing against each other athletically. Speaking to People in 2017, the couple opened up about their dynamic, and how the two sports stars acknowledge each other's strengths. "We're very competitive," Watt said. "Very, very competitive and we like to workout together. She's much faster than me, [while] I'm slightly stronger." Ohai then chimed in, adding, "I've never heard him admit that. That I'm faster than him. That's nice!" Watt quipped that he had a broken leg at the time of the interview, which gave her a crucial advantage over him. 

While the duo may be competitors in private, they are both known to be very supportive of each other publicly. During a Q&A session hosted by the United Service Organizations for military service members (via People), Watt revealed that he and his wife were both equally proud of one another and their respective achievements. The football player even admitted that his wife is a more skilled athlete than he is. In fact, he suggested that Ohai is the best athlete in his family. "If I say anything but my wife I'll get my a** kicked," the football player joked. While Watt conceded that his wife's speed and agility top his, he added, "I challenge her on strength activities."