Best father-son combos in sports


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It’s one thing to have your father as your high school coach, but it’s a whole different experience when your father is in the Hall of Fame and one of the most recognizable two-sport athletes of all-time.

That’s the opportunity Shedeur Sanders, a 2021 quarterback prospect from Trinity Christian School in Texas, has every day with Deion Sanders as his father and offensive coordinator. The younger Sanders is the No. 49 ranked prospect in his class, and though his father was once terrorizing quarterbacks, picking off their passes with ease and his patented Prime Time swag, he’s now teaching his son to pick apart defenses.

Shedeur isn’t the only Sanders offspring to play football, either. Shilo signed with South Carolina as a cornerback in the 2019 class, and Deion Sanders Jr. was a wide receiver and kick returner for SMU starting in 2013.

The Sanders children have seen success beyond their father, and there have been many other families in which sports talent extends beyond one generation. Here’s a look at some of the most successful father-son combos in sports history.


Multiple sports

Deion Sanders/Deion Sanders Jr./Shilo Sanders/Shedeur Sanders

Father’s accomplishments: Deion played 14 seasons in the NFL. He was drafted No. 5 overall in 1989 by the Atlanta Falcons after being named a two-time All-American at Florida State. Sanders was named a Pro Bowler eight times, with 53 interceptions throughout his career and two Super Bowl wins. He also played nine seasons of professional baseball for the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. He famously played in a game for the Falcons against the Miami Dolphins, then immediately flew to Pittsburgh to dress for his baseball game with the Braves against the Pirates in the NLCS. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

How his sons followed: Deion Sanders Jr. was a two-star athlete in the 2012 class, signing with SMU as a wide receiver and kick returner. As a sophomore kick returner, Sanders Jr. was named a second-team All-American Athletic Conference selection. Shilo was the No. 287-ranked prospect in the 2019 class and signed as a cornerback with South Carolina. He had five interceptions and three touchdowns his senior season. Youngest brother Shedeur, as mentioned, is now the No. 49-ranked recruit in the 2021 class as a quarterback and holds offers from some of the biggest programs in the country, including his father’s alma mater, Florida State.


MLB

Ken Griffey Sr./Ken Griffey Jr.

Father’s accomplishments: Ken Griffey Sr. played 19 seasons in the major leagues, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds. He was part of the Big Red Machine that won World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. Griffey Sr. was a three-time All-Star and finished his career with a .296 batting average, 152 home runs and 859 RBIs. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1980 All-Star Game and has been inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame.

How his son followed: Ken Griffey Jr. also had a long career, playing 22 seasons in the big leagues, including 13 with the Seattle Mariners and nine with Cincinnati. Griffey Jr. was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016 after a stellar career. He is seventh all time with 630 career home runs, was a 13-time All-Star and won 10 Gold Gloves for his play in center field. He was the American League MVP in 1997 and led the AL in home runs four times during his career. In 1990, Griffey Sr. and Griffey Jr., both playing for the Mariners, made history when they became the first father-son duo to hit back-to-back home runs in a game.

Bobby Bonds/Barry Bonds

Father’s accomplishments: Bobby Bonds played the majority of his 14 seasons with the San Francisco Giants and became just the second player to hit 300 career home runs and steal 300 bases, joining Willie Mays. He set records for most times leading off a game with a home run in a season (11) and in a career (35) — both of which have since been broken. Bonds was a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner.

How his son followed: Barry Bonds played 22 seasons, mostly with the Giants, and was a seven-time National League MVP. Bonds holds the records for most career home runs, with 762, and most home runs in a season, with 73. He was a 14-time All-Star, 12-time Silver Slugger Award winner and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner. Bonds tied his father for the most seasons with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases, with five. He holds the MLB records for walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688) in a career.

Sandy Alomar/Roberto Alomar/Sandy Alomar Jr.

Father’s accomplishments: Sandy Alomar Sr. competed in 15 seasons and could play all infield and outfield positions. He was an All-Star in 1970 and played a full 162-game season that year and in 1971. Alomar Sr. was a talented bunter and aggressive on the basepaths, totaling 227 stolen bases in his career, including 39 in 1971.

How his sons followed: Twelve-time All-Star Roberto Alomar was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. He won World Series championships with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. He won more Gold Gloves (10) than any other second baseman and finished his 17-year career with a .300 batting average, 2,724 hits and 210 home runs. Sandy Alomar Jr. was the first rookie catcher to start an All-Star Game, and he won Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove Award in 1990. Alomar Jr. was named an All-Star six times during his 20-year career and had a 30-game hitting streak in 1997.

Cecil Fielder/Prince Fielder

Father’s accomplishments: Cecil Fielder was a three-time All-Star and won a World Series title with the New York Yankees in 1996. In 1990, Fielder was the first player since George Foster in 1977 to hit at least 50 home runs in a season. Fielder led the American League in home runs in 1990 and 1991 and in RBIs from 1990 to ’92. Fielder hit 319 career home runs, recorded 1,008 RBIs and was a two-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award.

How his son followed: Prince Fielder was the youngest player to hit 50 home runs in a season (his age-23 season), and Cecil and Prince Fielder are the only father-son duo to each hit 50 home runs in a season. Prince Fielder was a six-time All-Star and won the Home Run Derby twice — once as an NL All-Star and once as an AL All-Star. He totaled 319 home runs for his career, the same number as his father, and drove in 1,028 runs. Fielder was a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner and the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015.


NBA

Dell Curry/Stephen Curry/Seth Curry

Father’s accomplishments: Dell Curry retired as the Charlotte Hornets’ career scoring leader (9,839 points) and ranked first in 3-pointers made (929). Curry was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1994 and averaged 11.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his 16-year career.

How his sons followed: Stephen Curry has led the Golden State Warriors to three NBA championships and been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice. Curry is a six-time All-Star and was the NBA scoring champion in 2016. He holds the NBA record for most made 3-pointers in a regular season, with 402, and most consecutive regular-season games with a made 3-pointer, with 157. Seth Curry was a two-time NBA D-League All-Star and has spent time with several NBA teams. He averaged 12.8 points over 70 games in 2016-17 with the Dallas Mavericks. In July, he signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Mavericks.

Doc Rivers/Austin Rivers

Father’s accomplishments: As a player, Doc Rivers was known for his defense, but he averaged a double-double during the 1986-87 season, with 12.8 points and 10.0 assists per game. He was an NBA All-Star in 1988 and played with four teams during his 13-year career. Rivers was named Coach of the Year in 2000 with the Orlando Magic and led the Boston Celtics to an NBA title as their coach in 2008. He has been head coach of the LA Clippers since 2013.

How his son followed: In 2015, Austin Rivers was traded to the Clippers and became the first NBA player to play for his father. Rivers has averaged 9.2 points per game in his seven-year career, including 15.1 PPG in 2017-18 with the Clippers. He now plays for the Houston Rockets.

Mychal Thompson/Klay Thompson

Father’s accomplishments: Mychal Thompson, the No. 1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft, won back-to-back NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987 and ’88. Thompson was on the All-Rookie team in 1979 and went on to average 13.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his career. He averaged a double-double in 1981-82, with 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.

How his son followed: Klay Thompson has won three NBA championships with the Warriors. Mychal and Klay Thompson became just the fourth father-son duo to each win an NBA title as a player and the first to each win back-to-back championships. Klay Thompson, a five-time All-Star, was named to the All-Rookie team in 2012 and won the 3-Point Contest in 2016. He holds the NBA playoff record for most 3-pointers made in a game, with 11.

Joe “Jellybean” Bryant/Kobe Bryant

Father’s accomplishments: Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played eight seasons in the NBA before heading to Europe and playing seven seasons with teams in Italy. He scored 53 points in a game twice during the 1987-88 season with Pistoia. Bryant played into his 50s, suiting up for the American Basketball Association.

How his son followed: Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant is third in career scoring, with 33,643 points. He played 20 seasons for the Lakers and was named an All-Star 18 times. Bryant was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 and the Finals MVP in 2009 and ’10. He was the NBA scoring champion in 2006 and ’07 and was named to the All-NBA first team 11 times and the All-Defensive first team nine times. Kobe has had both his No. 8 and his No. 24 retired by the Lakers.


NFL

Archie Manning/Peyton Manning/Eli Manning

Father’s accomplishments: Archie Manning was a quarterback in the NFL for 13 seasons, mostly with the New Orleans Saints. Despite never leading a team to a winning record, Manning made the Pro Bowl in 1978 and ’79. He threw for 125 touchdowns and rushed for 18 during his career. He has been inducted into the Saints’ Ring of Honor and the Saints’ Hall of Fame.

How his sons followed: Peyton Manning was the first pick in the 1998 NFL draft and holds the NFL records for career passing yards (71,940) and passing touchdowns (539). He is the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl for two franchises. A 14-time Pro Bowler, Manning was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player five times and a first-team All-Pro seven times. Eli Manning was the first pick in the 2004 NFL draft and has led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles, earning Super Bowl MVP honors both times. He is a four-time Pro Bowler, ranks sixth in passing yards in NFL history and started 210 consecutive games from 2004 to 2017, the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history.

Howie Long/Chris Long/Kyle Long

Father’s accomplishments: Eight-time Pro Bowl selection Howie Long played his entire 13-year career with the Raiders’ organization. The defensive end helped the Raiders win the Super Bowl in 1984, and he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985. Long finished his career with 84 sacks and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He also made 10 fumble recoveries and two interceptions during his time in the NFL.

How his sons followed: Chris Long was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NFL draft and has won back-to-back Super Bowls — with the New England Patriots in 2017 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018. The defensive end has recorded 63.5 sacks in his 10-year career and was named to the All-Rookie team in 2008. Kyle Long, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, is a guard for the Chicago Bears. He was a second-team All-Pro in 2014 and made the All-Rookie team in 2013.

Clay Matthews Jr./Clay Matthews III/Casey Matthews

Father’s accomplishments: Clay Matthews Jr. played 19 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Cleveland Browns. He appeared in 278 games, the most by a linebacker, and recorded 1,561 tackles, 69.5 sacks and 16 interceptions in his career. Matthews was a four-time Pro Bowler and was first-team All-Pro in 1984, recording 12 sacks that season.

How his sons followed: Clay Matthews III, a six-time Pro Bowler, helped the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl title after the 2010 season. The linebacker was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and has totaled 80 sacks, 14 forced fumbles and six interceptions in his nine-year career. Linebacker Casey Matthews played from 2011 to ’14 for the Philadelphia Eagles and recorded 2.5 sacks.


NHL

Bobby Hull/Brett Hull

Father’s accomplishments: Bobby Hull received the Hart Memorial Trophy twice as the NHL’s most valuable player and earned the Art Ross Trophy three times as the NHL’s leading points scorer. The left wing won the Stanley Cup in 1961 with the Chicago Blackhawks and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. Hull led the NHL in goals seven times and was the second-leading goal scorer in NHL history, with 610, when he retired (he is now 17th). Hull won back-to-back All-Star Game MVP awards in 1970 and ’71.

How his son followed: Brett Hull scored 741 goals in his career, the fourth-highest total in NHL history. The right wing won Stanley Cups in 1999 with the Dallas Stars (including scoring the championship-winning goal) and in 2002 with the Detroit Red Wings. Hull scored at least 50 goals in five consecutive seasons, and his 86 goals in 1990-91 are the third most in a season in NHL history. He was named the NHL’s MVP that season and received the Hart Memorial Trophy. Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, joining his father to become the first father-son duo in the Hall.


Auto racing

Dale Earnhardt/Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Father’s accomplishments: Dale Earnhardt won 76 Winston Cup races, including the 1998 Daytona 500. Earnhardt claimed seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships, tying Richard Petty for the most all time. It was 22 years before Jimmie Johnson matched the accomplishment in 2016. Earnhardt died as a result of a collision on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 and was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2010.

How his son followed: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won 26 Cup series races, including the Daytona 500 twice (2004, 2014). He had 260 top-10 finishes in Cup races in his career. Junior was a fan favorite, winning the Most Popular Driver award 15 times. He was the Busch Series champion in 1998 and ’99 before being named NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 2000. He is retired and a broadcaster now.


Honorable mention: Ray Boone/Bob Boone/Bret Boone/Aaron Boone; Felipe Alou/Moises Alou; Tom Gordon/Dee Gordon/Nick Gordon; Rick Barry/Brent Barry/Jon Barry; Bill Walton/Luke Walton; Larry Nance/Larry Nance Jr.; Tim Hardaway/Tim Hardaway Jr.; Bruce Matthews/Jake Matthews/Kevin Matthews; Jackie Slater/Matthew Slater; Gordie Howe/Mark Howe; J.P. Parise/Zach Parise; Peter Stastny/Paul Stastny; Lee Petty/Richard Petty/Kyle Petty; Mario Andretti/Michael Andretti/Jeff Andretti/Marco Andretti; Ken Norton Sr./Ken Norton Jr.; Calvin Hill/Grant Hill; Peter Schmeichel/Kasper Schmeichel


Next generation

Vladimir Guerrero/Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is showing flashes of the same power that made his father a nine-time All-Star.

Fernando Tatis/Fernando Tatis Jr.: Infielder Fernando Tatis Jr. was having a stellar rookie season with the Padres before a back injury forced him out, most likely for the rest of the season. His father, Fernando Tatis, once hit two grand slams in the same inning.

Bobby Witt/Bobby Witt Jr.: Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., the son of former pitcher and World Series champion Bobby Witt, was drafted second overall to the Royals in the 2019 MLB draft.

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez/Dereck Rodriguez: Pitcher Dereck Rodriguez made his MLB debut in 2018 for the Giants and went 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA on the other end of the battery from where his Hall of Fame father played for 21 seasons. He has had an up-and-down season in 2019 and was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento before being called back to the Giants’ bullpen.

Craig Biggio/Cavan Biggio: Cavan Biggio was called up to the Blue Jays in May 2019, following his Hall of Fame father’s lead and playing second base.

Roger Clemens/Kody Clemens: Second baseman Kody Clemens, the 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year, is in the Detroit Tigers organization and showing his power at the plate. His father, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, brought the heat from the mound.

Dante Bichette/Bo Bichette: Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette made the jump to the majors in July and promptly set an MLB record with 10 extra-base hits in the first nine games of his career. His father was an outfielder and played 14 seasons for five teams.

Randy Moss/Thaddeus Moss: LSU junior Thaddeus Moss transferred from NC State and is a pass-catcher like his soon-to-be Hall of Fame father, but he plays tight end instead of wide receiver for the Tigers.

Michael Irvin/Michael Irvin II: Michael Irvin II is a senior tight end for the Miami Hurricanes. Will he find success like his Hall of Fame and three-time Super Bowl champion father, who also played for the Canes?

Marion Barber Jr./Thomas Barber: Thomas Barber is a senior linebacker for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and was first on the team in tackles in 2017. His father also played at Minnesota, as a running back, and went on to play in the NFL. Thomas’ brothers, Marion III and Dominique, also played in the NFL.

John Bosa/Joey Bosa/Nick Bosa: Nick Bosa is a rookie defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers and was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2017 with Ohio State. His older brother, Joey, is starting his fourth season in the NFL with the Los Angeles Chargers and was named to his first Pro Bowl last season. Their father was also a defensive end in the NFL.

Shaquille O’Neal/Shareef O’Neal: Shareef O’Neal, a four-star recruit at UCLA, missed the entire 2018-19 season after doctors discovered a heart ailment that required surgery. The power forward expects to return after a medical redshirt season. His Hall of Fame and four-time NBA champion father played center.

Greg Anthony/Cole Anthony: Point guard Cole Anthony was No. 3 in the ESPN 100 basketball recruits for 2019 and will be a freshman at UNC this season. His father, also a point guard, played in the NBA for several teams from 1991 to 2002.

Keith Tkachuk/Matthew Tkachuk/Brady Tkachuk: Left wing Matthew Tkachuk was drafted at No. 6 in 2016 by the Calgary Flames, and his brother, Brady, was selected at No. 4 in the 2018 draft by the Ottawa Senators. Their father, a left wing like his sons, is one of only five American-born NHL players to score at least 500 goals.

Michael Nylander/William Nylander/Alexander Nylander: William Nylander was selected at No. 8 in the 2014 NHL draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs and named Rookie of the Month in October 2016 and March 2017. His brother, Alexander, was drafted at No. 8 in 2016 by the Buffalo Sabres; both sons look to have long NHL careers like their father did.

John Harkes/Ian Harkes: Ian Harkes received the Hermann Trophy as the top college soccer player in the country in 2016 and played for D.C. United like his father, who won two MLS Cup titles with the club and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. After two seasons, Ian signed a two-year deal with Dundee United in Scotland.

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