Finding Love and Faith On And Off The Field

Michael 'Pinball' Clemons and wife Diane, share how they built business success and personal strength in their marriage

They have been scoring personal and professional wins on and off the field as a dynamic power couple who have made finding balance through faith and love a priority through nearly 30 years of marriage.

Michael ‘Pinball’ and Diane Clemons have transformed their teamwork and commitment to each other into countless opportunities for others to experience the same success and happiness. 

This has grown out of years of finding their stride and putting each other first along with a dedication to each other and their faith. Both will tell you this has strengthened their marriage and helped them build a deper partnership. 

“Marriage is teamwork and that means involving each other in all parts of our life,” says Michael reflecting on how they have made working and living together a success while he juggled a successful football career with the Toronto Argonauts as well as countless side projects including the Pinball Clemons Foundation, speaking engagements, and charitable work, while other couples may have given up. “Having the same values has allowed this to get started and allowed it to grow and flourish.”

Diane, a Juno nominated singer, spun her own passions into a successful fashion career as well as a noted philanthropist, motivational speaker, and TV personality. 

What would have presented a challenge to other couples, trying to juggle marriage, work and family has been a source of grounding. What grew out of this relationship isn’t just a long marriage and three daughters, but a sense of channelling their success in a positive direction to help others. 

Diane says it hasn’t been easy to manage so many different projects over the years, along with raising three intelligent and motivated daughters, but to ensure that there was always enough time for quality family time and connecting. 

“The biggest challenge is time. If there is a question for Michael, I am the last person who is going to get an answer,” she jokes reflecting on their busy schedules. She notes the pair have always made an effort to support the things that are important to them personally and professionally. 

“She respects my time to a fault. I am moving a lot,” he says, adding that honouring and respecting the time they spend on their work has helped make doing what they love easier. He believes one of the greatest challenges is simply scheduling the time for one another and not saying yes to everything that comes along. 

Diane agrees, noting the blessings in their lives have allowed them to help others and it’s not always easy to say no.

“Saying no is a challenge. But it’s learning how to say no and that it’s okay to say no. Sometimes you have to prioritize our own need for time,” Diane says, adding she has learned a lot about herself over the years, joking that she has more patience than she ever imagined. She adds that even through the tough times, their commitment to each other stands firm. “We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.”

One of their most successful undertakings was the development of the Pinball Clemons Foundation. The organization focuses on providing marginalized and racialized youth with educational resources and options to integrate into the mainstream of society. 

Through the various outreach and mentoring programs, the program works to help youth enter the workforce in their desired careers. 

Michael and Diane, who both grew up in challenging environments as children, understand the importance of providing youth with opportunities. Michael believes it is important to be an example of success to the youth that they work with. This includes respect and being a support system to those around you. 

The couple says they have applied these core beliefs to their own lives. Michael says he believes the key to working as a team is knowing when to give each other space and when to be there for each other. 

“We do a good job of working together and protecting each other,” he says. 

“It can’t be me without him,” adds Diane. 

Support At Home and Work

Over the years, Michael says it was important to learn that balance included the understanding that you can have success outside the home, but that it should never overshadow your role within the home. He adds it is also important to surround yourself with people who can fill those roles to ensure your family remains connected. 

“There are times where you are doing good things outside, but your presence would be welcomed at home. The goal is to find balance and hope that when you are out doing successful things that others will help in our family’s life,” he says. 

One of the ways the family has kept this connection is through family trips that allow them to escape the pressures of work. 

“It’s important to travel as a couple,” Diane says, adding every year the family planned a trip where they could all be together. For their 20th anniversary, they spent 20 days in Europe, allowing them the time to connect away from the office while exploring the world. 

But travel for the couple, isn’t reserved for leisure, they also spending countless hours supporting their various  charitable efforts in other parts of the globe including mission trips to Africa and Haiti.

This was put on hold during the pandemic, but that didn’t slow the couple down as they took on a number of projects around the home including renovating their new home and preparing to welcome a new grandchild. 

As the pandemic becomes a memory, the couple plan to continue to expand their charity work and continue to welcome the support of those around to successfully build the lives of children in the community. 

“We continue to appreciate the generosity of the people who give to the foundation helping marginalised youth and taking them to independence,” says Michael. “It helps marginalised youth to go to college and university.” 

He adds the foundations’ employment programs have also been a tremendous success thanks to the support of donors, with participants gaining full employment within 45 days of completing their learning programs.

Faith and Family 

The couple believes faith has been a critical part of their happiness and success. The pair have both television and radio appearances speaking to the importance of faith in a relationship. 

“Faith is the cornerstone of our home. For us the success is not in stuff, accumulating awards, recognition, the identity of the prettiest house,” Michael says. “The real success is in your faith and your belief system and honouring your belief system. Not to be honoured, but to honour the other person.”

This core faith has allowed the couple to successfully raise three children and maintain a sense of normalcy in the face of pressures from sports, media, and fame. 

“Faith allows us to do what we do. It keeps us grounded. We let people see faith first,” says Diane, adding that this has allowed them to create balance at home and at work. 

Learn more about their work through the Pinball Clemons Foundation.