Fans of Kevin James's sitcom Kevin Can Wait were shocked when producers killed off the title character's wife, played by Erinn Hayes, after just one season, seemingly to make room for Leah Remini to join the cast. But James's real-life marriage is decidedly less dramatic—and much longer-lasting. The comic actor, 52, has been married to his first and only wife, model and actress Steffiana De La Cruz, 43, for 13 years.
The actors make a good team. De La Cruz is best known for her roles in her husband's movies, including Zookeeper and Paul Blart: Mall Cop (1 and 2). She even appeared in various roles in several episodes of King of Queens.
Off-screen, the husband and wife are very private, but James has opened up in the past about how his marriage and his family inspire his work, including his current CBS show. And recently, he shared a sweet snapshot of De La Cruz giving him a kiss on their anniversary, with the caption: "My incredible wife... 13 years today!!! DEO GRATIAS!" The Latin phrase translates to "Thanks be to God."
The two reportedly met on a blind date in 2001. It must have gone well, because they soon after moved in together and by fall 2003, the actors were engaged. On June 19, 2004, James (then 39) and De La Cruz (then 30) said "I do" at St. Edward Catholic Church in Dana Point, California, followed by a reception at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach.
The newlyweds welcomed their first child, daughter Sienna-Marie, in September 2005, and Shea Joelle followed in June 2007.
"I just love being a dad and spending time with my wife and child, and now we're having another girl," James told People before his second was born. "It's incredible."
In 2011, James and De La Cruz had a boy, named Kannon Valentine (presumably after James's big brother, fellow comedic actor Gary Valentine, who also plays his brother on Kevin Can Wait and his cousin on King of Queens). Daughter Sistine Sabella completed the family of six in 2015. "She's talented, too, I got to be honest," James bragged about his then-3-month-old daughter on Live with Kelly and Michael. "I got her working on a Robert De Niro impression."
Today, at ages 2 through 12, James's children and his faith are a reportedly a major reason the comedian is drawn to positive, family-friendly films (think the PG-rated Here Comes the Boom, Zookeeper, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop).
He appears to also be a very present figure in his kids' lives, too—no matter how busy he gets. "They travel everywhere with me," James said back in 2015. "[Sistine]'s the best little traveler. She doesn't cry—only like her father, she cries when she wants to eat and that's about it."
James has joked that he and De La Cruz have been "breeding them for nothing but comedy"—and says the kids have provided plenty of material for Kevin Can Wait.
"Honestly, they all come in with their home runs [jokes]," he told People last year. "They don't mean to, but they provide a wealth of comedy. All of our writers have kids, and man, we just draw from it."
There do seem to be some parallels between James's on- and off-screen families, but instead of his three girls and a boy, there are two girls and a boy on Kevin Can Wait. Oh, and thankfully, James isn't a widower in real life. But the comic does love his hometown of Long Island, where the show is filmed. In fact, he even moved his own family back to Nassau County when he signed on for the show.
"I lived in Los Angeles for like 17 years and it was great, but it just never felt like home," James explained to Newsday. "I missed the rhythm of the East Coast, the seasons, the food especially. I couldn't wait to get back."