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Father-Son and Father-Daughter Athletes

Athletes following in their fathers' footsteps

by John Gettings
Ken Griffey Sr. sits with his son, Ken Griffey Jr.

When these former and current professional athletes go home to see dad this Father's Day—and start talking about sports—he'll know exactly what they are talking about.

Here's a closer look at some of the more interesting father-son, and father-daughter tandems in all of sports.

Muhammad Ali & Laila Ali

It can't be easy following in the footsteps of a former world heavyweight champion, the fighter of the century and the man they call "The Greatest." But that hasn't stopped Laila, 26, the youngest of Muhammad Ali's seven children. Laila has been boxing professionally since October 1999 when she defeated April Fowler in 31 seconds. Since then she's won nine more fights convincingly, making her dad, who retired from boxing in 1981, quite proud. Laila won't be the only current pro boxing daughter spending time with a former heavyweight champion this Father's Day. Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, the daughter of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, battled Ali in a bout on June 8, 2001, in Verona, N.Y. The fight was called the "Thrilla in Manila 4," a reference to the three classic fights between their fathers in the 1970s. Frazier-Lyde, 16 years older than Laila, began boxing a few months after Ali and had looked forward to renewing the family rivalry. Ali won the bout by a majority decision in eight rounds. As of May 2004, Laila had a record of 16-0-0, with 13 knockouts.

Ken Griffey Sr. & Ken Griffey Jr.

Considering all the father-son combinations that Major League Baseball has seen come and go, it's amazing that it took until 1989 for Ken Sr. and Ken Jr. to become the first father and son to play in the major leagues at the same time. One year and one trade later Ken Jr. and Ken Sr. also became the only father and son to play on the same team. And to top it all off, on Sept. 14, 1990, they became the only father-son pair to hit back-to-back home runs in a game. This duo is also interesting, because it is one of the few where the son could outperform the father by the time his career is over. On April 10, 2000, (his dad's 50th birthday), Junior became the youngest player ever to hit 400 career home runs. His dad only hit 152 in 19 pro seasons. But while Junior may have better statistics and won more awards, Ken Sr. has seniority when it comes to league championships. He won back-to-back World Series titles with Cincinnati in 1975 and 1976. During those championship seasons Ken Jr. was a frequent visitor to the Reds clubhouse. But since joining the Seattle Mariners as a 19-year-old rookie in 1989, Junior hasn't been that close to a World Series again. A trade from Seattle to Cincinnati before the 2000 season re-united him with his father, who was then a coach with the Reds and later a consultant.

Calvin Hill & Grant Hill

This father-son duo is unique because their talents stretch across two sports. Calvin Hill was a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League in 1969. His son Grant was a first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association in 1994. The elder Hill played 12 seasons as a running back, helping the Cowboys make two Super Bowl appearances and win one championship after the 1971 season. While Grant has won an Olympic gold medal, co-rookie of the year honors and played in five NBA All-Star Games, he still hasn't had matched his college success. Hill, who signed with the Orlando Magic before the 2001 season, won back-to-back NCAA championships with the Duke Blue Devils in 1991 and 1992, but has only appeared in 15 playoff games in nine NBA seasons. He sat out the 2003-2004 season rehabilitating an injury-prone left ankle.

Bobby Hull & Brett Hull

Although their father-son relationship is reportedly rocky at best, the "Golden Jet" and the "Golden Brett" are ahead of the pack when it comes to great father-son duos. When Dallas Stars right wing Brett Hull joined the NHL with Calgary in 1986, the idea of him reaching his father's legendary numbers seemed remote. But quietly Brett, the middle child of Bobby's five kids, has piled up some goal-scoring records of his own. Brett scored his 600th career NHL goal on New Year's Eve 1999, becoming the 12th player to reach the milestone. One of those other 11 players is Brett's dad Bobby, the hockey hall of famer who scored 610 career goals over 16 NHL seasons. They are the first father-son combination to reach that plateau. During the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brett moved into sixth place on the all-time playoff goal list, breaking another tie with his father. Both have won league MVP trophies, both have won Stanley Cup championships and eventually both will be in the Hall of Fame. But while Brett may have matched Bobby's statistics, he hasn't matched the contributions of his father to the game of hockey. The "Golden Jet," who starred for Chicago in the 1960s was a pioneer of the slap shot and curved blade. When you combine Bobby's numbers and contributions with Brett's statistics, you get the best father and son tandem in sports.

Mark McGwire & Matthew McGwire

In 1998, a then 10-year-old Matthew McGwire became a celebrity for his volunteer work with the St. Louis Cardinals. Matthew was a batboy responsible for keeping an eye on the bats his dad-Mark McGwire-used during his incredible run at Roger Maris' single season home run record. His work didn't go unnoticed either, Matthew's shirt was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and he got to meet President Clinton. Matthew's dad, who continues to make his way up the career home run list, has always stressed how important Matthew is to his life. And according to reporters, Matthew is Mark's favorite topic of conversation in the locker room. Mark and his wife Kathy divorced when Matthew was 1 year old. He lives in Huntington Beach, Calif. with his mother. But his dad lives nearby in Huntington Harbour. It's a common family situation that, despite being dissected by the national media, is being handled uncommonly well.

Nate Williams & Natalie Williams

Natalie is the leading rebounder and a high scorer for the Indiana Fever basketball team of the Women's National Basketball Association and was a starting forward on the U.S. national team that won a gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Her dad, Nate, played eight seasons in the NBA for the Cincinnati Royals, K.C.-Omaha Kings, New Orleans Jazz and Golden State Warriors from 1971-79. Her parents separated when Natalie was younger. But she credits her dad with being very supportive of her career. She is an extraordinary athlete. At UCLA she became the first woman to earn All-American honors in both basketball and volleyball. She was named a member of the women's Pacific-10 Conference All-Decade Team, and her home state-Utah-named her Female Athlete of the Century. Although Nate was a guard and Natalie plays forward, she thinks she inherited her dad's power and strength. Other people have told her she shoots like him too. But Natalie wants to be remembered more for her rebounding and her play underneath the basket. Two things she's been outstanding at early in her career.




Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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