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Father Figures: 12 Sports Legends Who Are Dads

'The Say Hey Kid' has a kid of his own.

For me, and I think for a lot other dads too, most of our inspiration for being the best dad we can comes from people close to us.

If your own father was a great dad, well, that’s the best source right there. But there are also times when we watch coworkers or neighbors or distant relatives or even strangers in the supermarket somehow touching on the art of being a good papa, revealing a little of the magic of fatherhood to us in their own simple actions, unaware that we are even watching them … and learning.

But, at the same time, sometimes it’s also sort of a kick to look at superheroes, too.

Sometimes it’s really intriguing to take a peek at which Masters of the Universe are also dads, because within that knowledge, there is also a good bit of fatherly inspirado to be gained as well.

Learning about rock stars and presidents and great novelists and famous actors who are also dads and seeing that the rich, the famous, and most importantly, the accomplished, have all managed to commit themselves to fatherhood (and make mistakes like us normals, too), even in the middle of their bustling careers, indicates just how important it actually is to be a dad, no matter how busy we are, and no matter how many big important things we might get caught up in.

Hey, we say to ourselves,”If that guy can find the time to be a good father in the middle of being a huge star, well then I should be able to do that too.” At least, I do. I’m always interested in who is a father in this world. I’m always interested in who are the other dads.

So, for Father’s Day coming up and all, I figured I’d put together a look at some of the greatest sports legends alive who also happen to be fathers. Sure, I don’t have a spy camera trained on their homes to know exactly how they’re doing as dads, but it’s sort of cool to imagine the biggest, baddest home-run hitters of our time changing nasty diapers or holding a tiny hand in the park the exact same way that I and you do.

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  • Hank Aaron 1 of 12
    Hank Aaron
    Baseball is my favorite sport by a long shot, so I'm starting out with that. And what better way than to begin than with the guy who is probably my all-time favorite athlete, a guy who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth and who carried himself with dignity and class throughout his career? I'm talking about "Hammerin'" Hank' Aaron, who swatted an amazing 755 career Major League homeruns with the Milwaukee Braves and then the Atlanta Braves, and who also happens to be the father of five children: Ceci, Hank Aaron, Jr., Lary, Gaile, and Dorinda.
    Image: flickr.com/photos/bsteve76 Source: Baseball-Reference.com
  • Terry Bradshaw 2 of 12
    Terry Bradshaw
    Few pro football quarterbacks will ever come close to having the kind of talent or career that Pittsburgh Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw had. How does 14 seasons, four Super Bowl rings, and eight AFC championships sound? Pretty awesome, huh? And to top it off, the Hall of Famer is a daddy to two daughters, Rachel and Erin.
    Image: footballcardgallery.com Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com
  • LeBron James 3 of 12
    LeBron James
    Despite the still-simmering controversy over former Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James' decision to leave that team for the Miami Heat, there is little doubt that the passions and ire fans feel about him are largely linked to the fact that he is simply one of the best players to touch a basketball in a very long time. A number one draft pick, Rookie of the Year, three time NBA MVP, and a seven-time All-Star, James is a dominant legend in his own time as well as a the father of two boys, LeBron James Jr. and Bryce Maximus James.
    Image: flickr.com/photos/keithallison Source: NBA.com
  • Jeff Gordon 4 of 12
    Jeff Gordon
    Of all the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to emerge in the last 20 years, Jeff Gordon has managed to race his way to the front of the pack. Listen, when you win the coveted NASCAR Rookie of the Year award and then have the only and only Dale Earnhardt nicknaming you 'Wonder Boy', the pressure is on. But Gordon has proven he has the goods with three Daytona 500 victories, four season championships, and spot number three on the all time career wins list. An incredible stock car racer and a proud papa to a daughter and a son, Ella Sofia and Leo Benjamin.
    Image: commons.wikimedia.org Source: NASCAR.com
  • Willie Mays 5 of 12
    Willie Mays
    Of all the legends who have ever played pro baseball, there could be made a damn good argument that Willie Mays was the best. 'The Say Hey Kid', as he was known, was a two-time league MVP who hit 660 home runs and won an insane 12 Gold Glove Awards for his center fielding skills with the New York/San Francisco Giants and then the New York Mets. The late great Ted Willliams once said, "They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays." Willie is one of the last of the living legends of his era and he is also the very proud daddy of his adopted son, Michael.
    Image: flickr.com/photos/bantam10 Source: Baseball-Reference.com
  • Wayne Gretzky 6 of 12
    Wayne Gretzky
    Trying to list all of Wayne Gretzky's NHL accomplishments and records is sort of pointless. See, his name alone conjures up the very meaning of ice hockey excellence so much that his numbers are just the icing on the cake, really. Let's just say the guy shot more goals than anyone who has ever played the game. And that his nickname is 'The Great One.' That sort of sums it up. Wayne played for four different teams, but he is a five time father to Paulina, Ty, Trevor, Tristan, and Emma.
    Image: commons.wikimedia.org Source: Hockey-Reference.com
  • Michael Jordan 7 of 12
    Michael Jordan
    Michael. Jordon. What can I say? Or more practically, what can I not say? The greatest basketball player who ever lived? Check. The greatest athlete who ever lived? We could fight that out, but I'm having a hard time coming up with anyone to top him. Not only did Jordan win big, score big, break big records, and fly through the air like an eagle, but he also actually made monumental contributions toward helping NBA basketball become the extremely popular game it is today. Plus, he pretty much invented the whole expensive sneaker thing on his own, too. This guy is a legend's legend and there will likely never ever be another like him. Michael Jordan is father to two sons and a daughter named Jeffrey Michael, Marcus James, and Jasmine.
    Image: commons.wikimedia.org
  • David Beckham 8 of 12
    David Beckham
    At one time it seemed impossible for a soccer player to become a household name in the United States. But not anymore. David Beckham is known all over the world these days as the face of 'football,' and it's really not just because he loves the celebrity limelight. The guy is a damn awesome player with stellar career stats to prove it. A pro since the age of 17, Beckham helped deliver six Premier League titles to Manchester United during his years there, as well as a number of championships with his other teams through the years, Real Madrid and the LA Galaxy. The man whose face is one of the most familiar in the world is a father to one daughter and three sons: Harper Seven, Brooklyn Joseph, Romeo James and Cruz David.
    Image: commons.wikimedia.org Source: ESPN.go.com
  • Nolan Ryan 9 of 12
    Nolan Ryan
    Nolan Ryan was maybe the hardest-throwing pitcher to ever take the mound. With fastballs routinely clocked at over 100 mph, Ryan struck fear/anxiety into the hearts of many big league batters who knew that watching one of this guy's pitches coming toward you was a lot like trying to keep your eye on an aspirin tablet hurdling at you at the speed of light. No one has ever struck out more batters than Nolan Ryan did (5,714). And no man has ever thrown more no-hitters (7). But besides being such a marvelous ballplayer, he's also a dad to three children, Reid, Reese and Wendy.
    Image: wikimedia.org Source: Baseball-Reference.com
  • Tom Brady 10 of 12
    Tom Brady
    Tom Brady is another one of those athletes who tends to be either loved or loathed, because he's so damn good. As the quarterback who helped steer the New England Patriots to five Super Bowls, three of them victories, in just over 10 years Brady has become the object of a lot of jealousy amongst NFL fans. Still, it must be said that he is a legend in his own time, a quarterback so masterful and deliberate that it often seems as if there is little that defenses can do to actually stop him from leading his team to scoring again and again. Tom Brady is father to two sons, John Edward Thomas Moynahan and Benjamin Rein Brady.
    Image: commons.wikimedia.org Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com
  • Pete Rose 11 of 12
    Pete Rose
    There are people who believe that Pete Rose can't be considered a true athlete or a true legend or even a record holder because he was convicted of gambling on baseball. But I'm not one of them. Sure, what he did was wrong, but he was convicted for his crimes and even went to prison. So he has paid his dues. And plus, there is nothing that can actually take away the fact that Pete Rose is, swat for swat, the greatest hitter to ever step up to the plate. With more hits than any man who has ever played in the big leagues (4,256), with a dedicated scrappy brand of full-on playing that earned him the nickname 'Charlie Hustle', and with a lot of World Series teams under his belt, there can be no question about the fact that Pete Rose is one heck of a baseball legend. Pete is the father of four kids, Fawn, Pete Jr, Tyler, and Cara.
    Image: wikimedia.org Source: Baseball-Reference.com
  • Richard Petty 12 of 12
    Richard Petty
    It used to be that seeing Richard Petty coming up in your rear view mirror out on the track probably meant that you were going a lap down. Because, for the most part, the man they call 'The King' was usually in front of everyone else. The highly recognizable Petty's stock car racing legend is one that will likely never be touched with it's seven NASCAR championships, 200 wins, seven Daytona 500 victories, and a record-shattering 27 first places finishes in one year. And he's a proud dad to boot, with four children: son Kyle, and daughters Sharon , Lisa, and Rebecca .
    Image: flickr.com/photos/bantam10 Source: Stock-car-racing.net

Image: http: flickr.com/photos/bantam10

 

You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.

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More from Serge:

25 Things About My Son, Henry

Picnic In The Raindrops: A Daddy’s Best Meal Ever

Come On Up For The Rising: Heading Home After the Fire

No Neckties, No Cologne: 20 Father’s Day Gifts I Really Want

25 Things About My Daughter, Violet

 

 

 

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