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It Runs in the Family - Former Athletes Who've Had Children Make it to the Pros


This year in the NFL draft the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Joey Porter Jr. in the second round. Porter, the son of former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter will attempt to follow in his father’s footsteps albeit he is a cornerback. But his selection should get Steelers Nation excited as Joey Sr. was a fiery, aggressive, and often volatile player who often got the Pittsburgh defense fired up and kept them on their toes.

With yet another father/son combination in the NFL, there have been many professional athletes who had children making it to the pro level in one sport or another. As is with Joey Porter Sr. and his son also named Joey, here are 10 former athletes who had a child making it on the pro level of different sports.

The world knows who Patrick Mahomes is. A multiple Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs. Perhaps the best quarterback in the National Football League at the moment. But he is the son of Pat Mahomes who was also a professional athlete but in baseball, not football. Pat Mahomes Sr. played in Major League Baseball from 1992 until he retired in 2003. The football player’s father was a pitcher and played for six teams in the National and American Leagues but also spent two seasons playing Japanese baseball. The six teams he played for were the Twins, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers, Cubs, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Growing up he was very intelligent finishing high school with the second-highest GPA in his graduating class. His final won/loss record in the majors was 42-39. Any football fan knows the accomplishments of his son.

If you are an NBA fan and remember the days when the Detroit Pistons ruled the league, then you can recall the rebound machine known as Dennis Rodman. Rodman was a monster on the boards and quite odd on and off the court especially outside of basketball where he did many outrageous things. Rodman would take part in pro wrestling among other things and following his days with the Pistons, he also played for the San Antonio Spurs, and Chicago Bulls where he won another title, the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. He also played in other leagues joining the Long Beach Jam for two seasons but also making appearances with Fuerza Regia, Orange County Crush, Torpan Pojact, Tijuana Dragons, and the Brighton Bears. In all he was a part of five NBA championship teams, a seven-time NBA all-defensive first-teamer, twice was defensive player of the year, and much more that all landed him in the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame. Rodman has been married several times and has three children. His daughter Trinity is a professional soccer player for the Washington Spirit. Her career began there in 2021 and she finished the season with seven goals. It was her rookie season in which she helped her team win the league title defeating the Chicago Red Stars and Rodman had an assist. For her efforts, she was named Rookie of the Year.

In his prime, Yannick Noah was a world-class tennis player. With that said it might be odd to say his son became an outstanding basketball player. Joakim Simon Noah starred for the Chicago Bulls from 2007 through 2016. He was a former first-round draft pick, 9th overall in 2007. He would play for the Knicks, Grizzlies, and finally one season with the Los Angeles Clippers before retiring. His best season came in 2013 when averaged 12.6 points per game and played in 80 games. As for his father, upon retiring from tennis he had claimed 23 career titles including winning the French Open in 1983 and the double titles in that same tournament a year later. Following tennis Noah established a successful singing career.

The Dallas Cowboys once had a running back on their offense named Calvin Hill. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1969 and a member of the Super Bowl VI championship team. Hill would also play for the Redskins and Browns before retiring. Hill and his wife have one son and he became a very successful pro basketball player, Grant Hill. Despite some nagging injuries Hill played 18 seasons in the NBA and was voted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame. His playing days were six seasons in Detroit, five in Phoenix, another six with the Orlando Magic, and one last season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Back in the day, there were three brothers named Alou who played Major League Baseball. The trio were Matty, Felipe, and Jesus. For the only time in pro baseball history, these three brothers took the field at the same time with the San Francisco Giants in 1963 all three in the outfield. The day was September 15 in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Giants won 13-5.

On that day, Felipe Alou rotated from right field to center then to left. At the plate, he had one hit in five at-bats and scored three times while knocking in one run. He also walked and struck out once. His brother Jesus filled in at right while Felipe moved over to left and Jesus was hitless in two plate appearances. Then Matty took over in left field s Felipe moved to center. Matty never got to bat that day.

Years later along came another Alou, this one named Moises, and he too was a ball player. The younger Alou played for seven different teams in the Major Leagues, the Pirates, Expos, Marlins, Astros, Cubs, Giants, and the New York Mets. It was with Chicago that Moises Alou left behind a stamp in history that became wildly famous.

It was on October 14, 2003, in the National League Championship series where the Chicago Cubs were taking on the Florida Marlins, and in the sixth game, a foul ball hit the left field foul line, Moises Alou attempted to make a play on the ball which was headed towards the fans sitting there. As he tried to make the catch, Steve Bartman reached out to try and grab himself a prized ball and interfered with Alou. Alou was unable to make the catch which would have been out number two in the inning. Instead, the Cubs who were winning the game 3-0 ended up surrendering eight unanswered runs following that fiasco lost the game, lost game seven, and went another year without a World Series appearance. It was said that Alou in a post-game interview declared that had Bartman not been in the way he still would not have been able to make the catch. He retracted that later indicating even if he did say that it would have only been to make Steve Bartman feel better about what he did something that caused fans to berate Bartman and even send him threatening emails and letters.

In the world of MMA, specifically the UFC, one of their earliest heavyweight champions was Frank Mir. Mir may have extended his career too far past his prime, losing five of his final eight MMA bouts but early on he was a submission specialist and a nightmare for many fighters. Just ask Tim Sylvia who lost to Mir on an armbar having his arm broken in the process. Now comes Mir’s daughter Bella who has become a professional martial artist. Just 20 years of age, “Lady” which is her Octagon nickname has three fights under her belt having won all three. Two of the three victories have been just like her old man, submission wins. She hasn’t been signed by the UFC yet, but if she keeps winning count on it.

From MMA and now professional boxing, the late Ken Norton was one of the toughest heavyweight champions of all time. Never ducking anyone Norton fought the best of the best losing just 7 times in 50 fights. When Gerry Cooney viciously knocked out Norton in 1981, Norton hung up his gloves and called it a career. Ken Norton had several children but it was Ken Norton Jr. that made his mark in the National Football League. Currently, a linebackers coach at UCLA, Norton had a successful playing career that evolved into a coaching career both on the pro and collegiate levels. Playing only for the Cowboys and 49ers, Norton Jr. is now 56 years of age.
What is rather uncommon in pro sports is seeing a pro athlete on the same field of play in the same game with a son or daughter. It did happen on August 31, 1990, in Seattle when the Mariners put into their starting lineup Ken Griffey Sr. in left field and his son, Ken Griffey Jr. in center. It was the first time in history this had taken place and oddly enough, at the end of the game the father/son combination had the same number of at-bats and each had just one hit. Both men scored just once and Ken Griffey Sr. walked once.

Is Babe Ruth the greatest baseball player of all time? Or is Major League Baseball’s most prolific home run hitter a better player? That would be Barry Bonds, the player with the most home runs in history. After Hank Aaron passed Ruth’s record of 714, Bonds came along later and surpassed Aaron. Before Bonds came to Major League Baseball first with the Pittsburgh Pirates, his father was a great player as well. Bobby Bonds played 14 big league seasons, smashing 332 home runs with 1,024 RBIs. Bonds played for eight different teams in those 14 years beginning with the San Francisco Giants. He would also play for the California Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, and the Chicago White Sox.

Finally, we have the most famous family in football. The Manning’s. First, there was Archie Manning, to no one’s surprise a quarterback. Unfortunately for Manning Sr., he was part of terrible New Orleans Saints teams. He also played for the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings, but 11 of his 15 pro years were spent with the “Aints” as they became known for their perennial losing. Manning Sr.’s record with the Saints was an atrocious 35-91-3. In Houston and Minnesota, he never won a game compiling a 0-10 record. His final stats revealed a career 55.2 completion percentage, 23,911 yards passing, and 125 touchdowns but 173 interceptions. He was also sacked 396 times. As for his sons though, everyone who knows football recognizes the name Peyton Manning. Considered by many as the best quarterback of all time, Peyton was better than his younger brother Eli, but Eli did have a solid career with the New York Giants winning two Super Bowls. Older brother Peyton also won two and was the leader in many career passing stats until Tom Brady surpassed him on most. The Manning family nearly had a fourth member make a career in football as the oldest son Cooper was a player who was one of Peyton’s wide receivers in high school. But during his senior year, Cooper was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and that ended his football career. He was heading towards playing for the University of Mississippi before the devastating diagnosis. While Peyton Manning is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Eli may just end up being inducted one day as well.

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About the author

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson was born and raised in Pittsburgh but now lives in Florida with his beautiful wife Melissa.

Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.

Harv loves all sports but football and baseball are at the top of his interest. His passion is for sports history. You can also watch Harv’s videos on his YouTube channel “Total Sports Recall.”

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