Ciara and Russell Wilson Spent Their 1st Date in a Car Hiding From the Paparazzi

The celebrity life comes with plenty of perks, but privacy is typically not one of them. Love lives are particularly tricky to navigate under the harsh glare of the public eye, and plenty of stars have gone to elaborate lengths to keep things quiet until they’re ready to make it official for all the world to see. Keeping a fledgling relationship under wraps can become even more difficult — and more necessary — when one of the people involved is already under intense media scrutiny. 

That was the case for Ciara and Russell Wilson when they began dating. Sure, now the pair of lovebirds are seen as a terrific married couple living a dreamy life together, but back in 2015, Ciara was in headlines during a particularly ugly custody battle, and dating Wilson without drawing more attention took some real effort. 

Ciara went through an ugly custody dispute

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Ciara has been in the public eye for much of her life, and she’s had some high-profile relationships during that time. Way back in 2004 — when the singer was just 19 years old — she was in a relationship with Bow Wow and even collaborated with him on the song “Like You.”

It didn’t come out until much later that the pair had actually gotten engaged, but due to Bow Wow’s alleged infidelity, they never made it to the altar. After that, Ciara dated rapper 50 Cent, and the pair also had a collaboration. Later, Ciara denied they were even romantically involved, calling the relationship a “friendship,” but fans aren’t convinced. 

Without a doubt, the most headline-worthy relationship was with Future. They began dating in 2013 and had a son named Future Zahir Wilburn in 2014. A few months after their son was born, they called off their engagement and split, setting the stage for an ugly custody battle.

Future was vocal about his displeasure with Ciara’s new life — particularly her introducing her new beau to their child. Eventually, they each moved on, but Future’s ugly public commentary hung over Ciara’s head during their legal battles. 

Ciara and Russell Wilson got married in 2016

NFL player Russell Wilson and singer Ciara arrive at The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
Ciara and Russell Wilson | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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These days, Russell Wilson — quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks — and Ciara seem to have a fairy tale marriage. Between their generous donations to charity and their adorable gifts to one another, there are tangible symbols of their love and partnership all around. 

Wilson stepped up to be a father figure to Ciara’s son, Future. In 2017, the couple added another child, welcoming Sienna Princess into the family. In 2020, Ciara and Wilson welcomed a son named Win Harrison Wilson, creating a full family that seems extremely happy and supported. 

Russell Wilson and Ciara had to hide from paparazzi on their first date

Looking in on Wilson and Ciara’s happy marriage, it’s hard to tell that they had such a wild start. Back when they began dating in 2015, Ciara was very conscious of the media’s attention and the way that negative coverage might hurt her custody case. 

As GQ reports, their first date left the pair driving around Los Angeles dodging paparazzi. Eventually, they found a relatively quiet space in the Georgian Hotel. Wilson went in first and dimmed the lights to help the pair hide and enjoy each other’s company. 

Obviously, the first date went well despite its awkward elements, and the pair soon became an official item. Wilson reflects on his role in Ciara’s son’s life from an early age: “the reality was that for me it was a blessing and an opportunity to really hopefully be there for him every day and try to care for him in a way that was important for me.”