Best Sports Families: It’s All in the Wrists….or the DNA
by Jennifer Jordan
When the Miami Dolphins took Samson Satele as the 60th overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft, and then took Reagan Mauia as the 181st overall pick, Satele and Mauia, distant cousins, joined the long line of relatives who have helped make sports a family affair. Though they have yet to prove themselves in professional sports, as they are both rookies, there is no telling whether this particular kin will be akin to winning. Still, they give us reason to remember that sometimes sports is quite literally all relative. The following is our list of the top athletes who owe at least some of their genius to their genus.
The Mannings: There’s a story of a man named Manning, who was busy with three boys of his own…three very athletic boys of his own. Archie Manning, a former pro-bowl quarterback who could have been one of the greatest had he not been on such a bad team, is the proud father to Cooper, Peyton, and Eli. Though Cooper, the oldest, never played professional football, he was a standout wide receiver in high school before his career was cut short by spinal stenosis. Peyton, the middle child, has grown to become one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and will likely retire as a legend. Eli, the youngest, is an up and coming quarterback with the New York Giants. While he has yet to truly prove himself, eventual greatness seems almost inevitable.
Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr.: Fathers and sons play a game of catch all the time, but rarely in front of ten of thousands of cheering fans. Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. did just that, making history when they became the first father and son duo to play together on the same team, the Seattle Mariners. They added to history when they hit back to back homeruns on September 14, 1990, undoubtedly causing the senior to see the junior as a chip off the old block, and a ball off the old bat. In 2004, Ken Griffey Sr. was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame. As for Junior, he continues to play, frightening pitchers with his power hits and shutting down batters with his stellar defense.
The Alous: Felipe Alou, a man who changed baseball by becoming the first Dominican to consistently play in the major leagues, was the oldest brother in a trio of Alous: he enjoyed a 17 year stint as a player before moving onto managerial duties. His younger brothers, Matty and Jesus, were both longtime players in the National League. Moises Alou, the son of Felipe, followed in his father’s and uncles’ footsteps by becoming an excellent player; he currently plays for the New York Mets. With the exception of Jesus, all of the Alous have been elected to a Major League All Star game at least twice.
Bobby and Barry Bonds: Bobby Bonds set the pace for his son to follow. As a player, Bobby was a three-time Golden Glove winner, and a three-time All Star. He also was named MVP in 1973. The younger Bonds, Barry, has baseball in his blood, both metaphorically and biologically: Willie Mays is his godfather and Reggie Jackson is his cousin. A shoe in for the Hall of Fame, Barry is the all time leader in career walks and intentional walks, holds the record for most homeruns in a season with 73 and is only eleven home runs away from breaking Hank Aaron’s 30 year old record.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr.: One of the most famous names in NASCAR, the Earnhardts have earned a place in the hearts of all those who love racing. The elder Earnhardt became known for his Winston Cup Series victories, seventy six races won, seven championships, his aggressive driving style and, of course, the number 3. Dying as he did something he loved, Earnhardt Senior fatally crashed during the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. As for the younger, Earnhardt Junior is two-time Busch Series champion, and the winner of the 2004 Daytona 500. He won it exactly six years after his father’s victory in the same race.
Note only do the above families allow us to see how greatness is inherited, but they also give those of us with no athletic talent the chance to do something we all love to do: blame our parents.