View Full Version : Big Ben’s sister has her own story to tell

03-26-2011, 08:21 PM
Big Ben’s sister has her own story to tell


Oklahoma’s Carlee Roethlisberger (left) and Oklahoma State’s Toni Young fight for a loose ball March 2 in Norman, Okla.

By Tom Archdeacon, Staff Writer
Saturday, March 26, 2011

She’s gone some 900 miles away to build her own athletic career and become her own woman and yet so many places she goes, Carlee Roethlisberger finds she’s still Big Ben’s little sister.

And depending on the circumstance that can mean a warm, almost fawning embrace or, once in a while, a taunting poke to the sensibilities.

Roethlisberger is a 6-foot-1 starting senior forward for the Oklahoma Sooners women’s basketball team that faces Notre Dame in an NCAA tournament regional semifinal at UD Arena this afternoon.

Since she grew up in Findlay, played AAU ball for the Dayton Lady HoopStars and Ben went to college 50 miles away at Miami University, she’ll have many family members and friends in the crowd today and maybe even her famous — and for a while there, infamous — brother, who is the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.

And it’s because of him that she’s gotten a roller-coaster reception this year.

Last Sunday, when the Sooners opened tournament play against James Madison in Charlottesville, Va., she got needled.

“Their pep band was all over it,” she said as she sat in the dressing room at UD Arena before practice Friday. “They were yelling stuff like ‘No Means No’ and ‘Your brother should be in jail.’

“Sure that can be frustrating, but all you do is try to smile and keep playing. If you lose your temper, it just makes it worse. My parents always taught me: ‘Let it show on the court who you are.’ And I think that’s what happened there. We won and in your mind you can say, ‘Take that!’ ”

When the Sooners played at UConn just after the Super Bowl — a game where the Packers edged Roethlisberger’s Steelers — she said the crowd did Green Bay chants.

“Sometimes you just smile and go, ‘Yeah that’s pretty good,’ ” she said.

And then there are those times — whether back home in Norman or maybe even in some other Big 12 outpost — where she’ll look up and see a few folks decked out in Steelers garb cheering her.

Yet, no matter if they are fawners or taunters or simply family and friends, they all see the same thing, said Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale:

“She is a gem of a kid ... And she has handled her celebrity like a pro. She has a maturity about her that helps her and she has a couple of parents who help her take everything in stride. They are humble people and very sincere. Carlee’s career is about Carlee and Ben’s career is about Ben. And they keep it that way.”

And so when Ben was winning two Super Bowls, Carlee didn’t try to big-time anybody.

And when her beloved brother was suspended for the first four games of this past NFL season for alleged sexual misdeeds with two women — a punishment that brought screaming tabloid headlines at times — she didn’t walk around with a chip on her shoulder.

“I’ll admit, though, I didn’t watch ESPN there for a while,” she said. “But the thing is they don’t know the guy behind the name, the guy I grew up with, the guy who is my brother.

“I love him and I’m proud of him. And the thing I admire most about him is the way he’s overcome things. In high school it wasn’t like he started out a big name, but by his senior year he worked hard and made himself one. Coming out of high school, he wasn’t a top dog so he went to Miami and created a name for himself and the team there.

“And now with all this he’s gone through, I think he’s turned it into a positive and come out of it a better person.

“It’s not like we see each other a lot — we’re far away and our seasons overlap — but this past summer I spent a month at home (her parents moved to Pittsburgh) and it felt like you could get closer to him. He was more open and willing to let people in. It kind of broke him a little bit, but instead of being defeated he came back stronger.”

The two are seven years apart — and Ben is actually her stepbrother — but there is a special bond between them.

Their parents were college athletes and the two kids grew up competitive, whether in their driveway basketball games, throwing a Frisbee in the backyard or playing board games. “He never took it easy on me,” Carlee said.

She began carving her own niche when, as a senior at Findlay High School, she shattered her brother’s school record of 1,095 career points in basketball.

Along the way, though, her brother remained protective.

“I remember for homecoming my freshman or sophomore year, he drove my date and me because neither of us could drive,” she laughed. “My date was like ‘Okay, thank you sir — I think I’ll just be quiet.’ ”

While in high school, she’d go to Steelers games with her parents and since she’s been at Oklahoma her brother has come to see a few of her games. A month ago he was there for two games, including her Senior Night.

And while his presence creates a stir, it has never overwhelmed a Sooners team whose ranks have included the daughters of Bubba Paris (three Super Bowl rings) and Hakeem Olajuwon while still featuring Whitney Hand, whose dad, Rich, was a major-league pitcher.

“With them it was like, ‘Okay, that’s cool. That’s awesome, but it’s like we’ve been there, too,’ ” she said. “With them it was no big deal. It was normal.”

This season Carlee has started all 34 games for the Sooners and is averaging 7 points and 5.3 rebounds.

“On the floor she has been the glue for us,” said Coale. “She is going to take the charge, dive on the floor for the loose ball and then lately down the stretch she has made the big plays.

“She’s been playing like a senior and it’s been fun to see. She has deserved to have a great flourish at the end of her career. Carlee said people often ask her about being in her brother’s shadow: “You can’t complain about it. If you want out of it, you have to do it yourself. You have to do something to make it happen. You have to show what you are made of.”

In so many ways this season, she has done just that.


03-27-2011, 11:13 AM
The two are seven years apart — and Ben is actually her stepbrother — but there is a special bond between them.

I believe Ben would be considered her half-brother, not step brother. They have the same father, but different mothers, right? A step brother would not be related by blood whatsoever (like the Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly characters in the Step Brothers movie or Greg/Peter/Bobby and Marcia/Jan/Cindy in the Brady Bunch...their parents met and married long after they were born).

03-27-2011, 04:40 PM
Yes you are correct, Ben is her half-brother.

03-27-2011, 04:41 PM
Yes you are correct, Ben is her half-brother.