The great thing about Father’s Day this year is not only that it falls on Juneteenth, but that it also comes in the middle of Major League season and at the end of NBA basketball season. So that makes us think of all the famous superstar fathers in sports and their children who followed in their footsteps.
There’s a long list as it’s pretty normal for kids to be inspired by their dads – who in their eyes are heroes. So here’s a list of some famous sports figures and their kids who turned out to be amazing athletes as well.
Dell Curry, Steph Curry and Seth Curry
Steph Curry, the Golden State Warriors guard who is this year’s 2022 NBA Championship MVP and has dominated the league in shooting for years, is arguably the best in its history. He made that clear June 16, when the Warriors took home their fourth title with him at the helm (seventh overall), defeating the Boston Celtics in six games. But it’s easy to forget that he’s a part of a basketball family legacy.
His dad, Dell Curry, had a successful NBA career himself: first drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1986, then being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers a year later. In the 1988 expansion draft he wound up on the Charlotte Hornets, spending 10 seasons there. In the 1993-94 season he was chosen NBA Sixth Man of the Year. When he left the team for Milwaukee he was its all-time leader in points, three-point shots, and games played. He stayed with the Bucks for one season, then played the final three years of his career with the Toronto Raptors..
Not to be outdone, Seth Curry, currently a shooting guard with the Brooklyn Nets, started 2013 with stints in both the NBA Development League and with the Memphis Grizzlies Cleveland Cavaliers, and Phoenix Suns. His career began to blossom when he joined the Sacramento Kings, and later the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trailblazers, consistently hitting career high points in games. He’s since showed his playoff strength as a clutch shooter with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Nets.
Gary Payton and Gary Payton II
Going back through NBA history, when thinking of the best all-time point guards, Gary Payton is definitely in the conversation. Best known for his tenure with the Seattle Supersonics, the Hall of Famer still holds records with the franchise for points and assists. In fact, he is the first point guard to win the Defensive Player of the Year, awarded in 1996. In his 13-year career with the Sonics, he earned nine consecutive All-NBA Team selections and was also a nine-time NBA All-Star as well as an Olympic gold medalist on the 1996 and 2000 teams.
Following in his dad’s footsteps, Gary Payton II took it a step further. Although Gary Sr. went to the NBA Championships with the Sonics, losing to the Chicago Bulls in 1996, Gary II, is now the owner of a championship ring as of June 16, claiming the title with teammate Steph Curry. The younger Payton entered the league first in the NBA Development League with Rio Grande, and made his debut with the Milwaukee Bucks and later had stints with the L.A. Lakers, the Washington Wizards, and also seasons with Rio Grande and two NBA G League teams before joining Golden State in 2021.
“Jellybean” Joe Bryant and Kobe Bryant
The 1970s were a golden age for the NBA and teams like the Phildelphia 76ers were among basketball royalty. The team featured greats like, Julius “Dr. J.” Irving, Darryl Dawkins, Doug Collins, and “Jellybean” Joe Bryant who played four seasons with the team including their run to the NBA Finals in 1977. Bryant, a 6’9” power forward out of LaSalle University, was first drafted by Golden State, then went to the Sixers, where he made his name in the league. He then did three years with the then-San Diego Clippers before short stints in Houston and in Europe. He went on to a successful coaching career with stints coaching the L.A. Sparks as well as with teams in Thailand and Japan.
But while still playing in Philadelphia, he and wife Pamela had a son, Kobe who went on to be among those viewed as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, consistently mentioned in that conversation with Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Coming out of high school, he spent his entire 20-year career with the L.A. Lakers, winning five NBA Championships with them and becoming an NBA All-Star 18 times and was twice and NBA Finals MVP. Sports analysts have argued that Bryant’s aggressive style of play changed the game by influencing an entire generation of players. He retired in 2016 with a career average of 25.2 points per game.
Calvin Hill and Grant Hill
Yale University’s football team went undefeated in 1968, and that season was led by halfback Calvin Hill and quarterback Brian Dowling and that was enough for the Dallas Cowboys to set their sights on Hill and they drafted him the next year. By 1972, he became the first running back in franchise history to surpass 1,000 yards and in 1973 he broke team records with more than 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. Hill went on with the Cowboys for six season helping them win Super Bowl VI and two NFC Championships. He finished out his career with stints in Washington and in Cleveland.
But during that magical 1972 season, Hill and his wife Janet had a son, Grant, who grew up watching his dad’s athletic feats. His focus was basketball, however, and he wound up playing for Duke, joining Christian Laettner as one of the most successful college basketball duos in history, playing for Duke University becoming a two-time NCAA Champion. He was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1994 and typically led the team in points, assists and rebounds. He went on to success with the Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns before retiring in 2013 from the L.A. Clippers having become a seven-time NBA All Star and Olympic gold medalist.
Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.
When people think 1970s baseball, the New York Yankees or Pittsburgh Pirates and Oakland A’s seemed to be dominant, but people shouldn’t forget the Cincinnati Reds – The Big Red Machine – and with them their star outfielder Ken Griffey. Starting his MLB career with the Reds in 1973, Griffey moved up to the top of the roster as the Reds won the World Series in 1975 and 1976. Between 1976 and 1980, he had 43 home runs and a batting average high of .318. He went on to an 18-year baseball career playing for the Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, another stint with the Reds and his final two seasons with the Seattle Mariners, where he famously joined his son Ken. Jr. in the outfield on August 31, 1990.
Ken Jr. was watching when his dad won championships with the Reds in 1975 and 1976, and that spirit was enough to lead him into his own career, starting with making player of the year at Cincinnati's Archbishop Moeller High School in 1987. That year, he began his pro career in the minor leagues. But two years later, he showed that he was ready for a major league team, joining the Mariners and going on to have more than 1,700 hits and more than 300 home runs. He remained in Seattle until 1999, then joined his dad’s old team, Cincinnati in 2000, staying there until 2008, with the exception of a short stint in Chicago that year. He wound up back in Seattle, where he retired that year with 630 career home runs and 13-time All Star.
Muhammad Ali and Laila Ali
“The Greatest,” as many regard him, needs no introduction. Winning Olympic gold in 1960 led the former Cassius Clay to a career as heavyweight champion only to give up his career in objection to being drafted into the army and potentially going to Vietnam in 1967. He returned to boxing in 1970, and eventually reclaimed his mantle as champ in 1974 in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire.
But three years later, Ali was blessed with daughter Laila, seventh of his total nine children. Laila had first been a nail technician in California, but began a boxing career when she was 18 – something her dad initially objected to. She went on to hold middleweight titles in four professional boxing organizations and the IWBF light heavyweight title. She ended her career undefeated 24-0 in 2007. She later went on to become an author and television personality.
Muhammad Ali, one of the most celebrated athletes in world history, died in 2016 at age 74.