6 of the Most Well-Known Dads in the Sports World

From the NBA to the tennis world, there are many different kinds of sports dads who raised professional athletes. These are some of the most famous names.

A lot of us have sports dads. Fathers who taught us how to throw a ball or shoot a basket, or who introduced us to the life of a sports fan, or who maybe even coached us. Regardless of the specifics, many of us have dads with whom we can connect because of sports. And these athletes can definitely relate.

Al Horford, the Williams sisters, the Curry brothers — there have been many professional athletes who have been heavily influenced by their dads.

Here are six of the most prominent father figures in the world of sports.

Tito Horford
(Photo credit: NBA on Facebook)

Fans of the Boston Celtics hold a special place in their hearts for Tito Horford. Every time he attends a Celtics game to watch his son, the beloved Al Horford, play, the cameras are quick to put him in the spotlight. Naturally, fans delight in seeing his fatherly support. Some even seek him out at games because of his consistent presence. But, while he may now be more widely recognized as a sports dad, he was a former NBA player himself — and one who made history, no less.

Tito Horford became the first Dominican-born player to compete in the NBA when the Milwaukee Bucks selected him in the 1988 Draft. He played in Milwaukee for two seasons before a quick stint with the Washington Bullets in 1993.

His career in the NBA may have been short-lived, but Tito walked so Al could run. Al is now one of the leaders of the Boston Celtics, and is on a mission to lead his team to Banner 18.

Earl Woods
(Photo credit: Golf Digest on X)

Many fathers want to pass down their golf clubs to their sons. But there is perhaps no one who has been more successful in doing so than Earl Woods, the man who shaped the legendary Tiger.

Earl Woods grew up playing basketball and was even a college basketball player, but he dedicated his career to the military. It was only when he was around 40 years old, stationed in Brooklyn, that he discovered the game of golf — and he loved it. Naturally, when his son Tiger was born, Earl introduced him to the sport before he was even two years old.

Earl coached Tiger in those early years, and many pay him due credit for setting Tiger up with a good foundation to become golf’s biggest icon. And because of all the time they spent together, he and Tiger were very close. In fact, Tiger even calls him his “best friend” and “greatest role model.”

Earl documented his experience with Tiger, both on and off the course, in his books: Training a Tiger: A Father’s Guide to Raising a Winner in Both Golf and Life, and Playing Through: Straight Talk on Hard Work, Big Dreams, and Adventures with Tiger.

LaVar Ball
(Photo credit: LaVar Ball on Instagram)

When three brothers — like Lonzo, LiAngelo, and LaMelo Ball — are all good enough to make it to the NBA, it begs the question, who raised these talents? In the unique case of the Ball brothers, it’s their father, LaVar, who was a skilled athlete himself back in the day.

Like his three sons, LaVar Ball also grew up playing basketball. He even played in the collegiate level for three major universities in the United States. But this wasn’t the only sport he was good at. He also played football in college and for a brief period, was even a professional football player in the World League of American Football. LaVar really could ball, and he obviously passed this skill down to his sons.

Ever since the Ball boys started making headlines in the NBA, they did so as an entire family. Even LaVar started attracting more air-time, and he could be a controversial figure at times. In one interview he did with USA Today, he even expressed that when he was in his prime, he could’ve beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Debatable. And this is just one example of some of the big claims he would make publicly. But these are what make LaVar Ball one of the most famous sporting dads in the industry.

Richard Williams
(Photo credit: Flashbak on Facebook)

Richard Williams — or King Richard, as people now love to call him ever since the critically acclaimed biopic about him became a huge success — is another sports dad who raised not one, but two killer athletes, as the dad of Venus and Serena Williams.

Richard introduced tennis to Venus and Serena when they were just around four years old and it didn’t take long before they started to impress coaches, even at that young an age. In fact, the Williams sisters entered a tennis academy early on, but Richard pulled them out and decided to coach them himself.

If you’ve seen the film, King Richard, you know the story — he was highly focused and dedicated to his girls’ tennis careers. He trained them for years and was hands-on in every aspect of their tennis lives, and eventually, it paid off. As a coach, he has led his two daughters to more Grand Slam titles than any other sports dad out there. Serena alone holds the record for 23 Grand Slams, the most of any man or woman in the open era of tennis.

So if anyone questioned his methods back then for mixing personal life with his daughters’ professional careers, no one questions him now.

Floyd Mayweather Sr.
(Photo credit: Floyd Mayweather Sr. on Facebook)

Today, the Mayweather name goes far in boxing circles. But, it was Floyd Mayweather Sr. who started bringing weight to the name back in the 70s, long before his son, Floyd Mayweather Jr., became an international boxing icon.

Floyd Mayweather Sr. was a professional boxer who competed in the early 70s and throughout the 80s. As a fighter, he was best known for his boxing strategies, which he passed down to his son when he became his trainer.

Floyd Sr. introduced Floyd Jr. to boxing at a very young age and became his coach in the early years. He would push his son hard, making sure he never missed a day of training, and worked hard in every session. However, Floyd Sr. was sent to prison when his son was only 16 years old and his career was just about to start. When Floyd Jr. was 16 up until he was 21, he had to fend for himself and even went to the Olympics at 19 years old without a trainer.

He may have been an absent father, especially during that period, but Floyd Jr. credits his success, having retired with an undefeated record, to him. He even shared that he “never wanted to let his father down.

Dell Curry
(Photo credit: Stephen Curry on Instagram)

If you ever watched Steph or Seth Curry shoot three-pointers with such ease and wondered, how do they do that? Well, the answer may be in their bloodline, as their dad, Dell Curry, was a three-point king himself back in the day.

Dell Curry spent 16 seasons in the NBA, creating a reputation for his shots beyond the arc. In fact, in the 1998-99 season, he recorded a league-high 47.6% shooting from deep, and across nine seasons, his average didn’t dip below 40%.

Steph and Seth inherited this rocket-powered shooting ability. And Dell has thoroughly enjoyed watching his sons’ careers take off, especially Steph, who’s gone on to become a four-time NBA champion. But beyond the titles, perhaps one of Dell’s favorite moments was when all three of them got to enjoy the spotlight at the same time when earlier this year, he got to call a game where both his sons were playing at the same time.

As he said, it was “A father’s dream come true.” But, not many fathers get to even dream of this.

Banner image from Stephen Curry on Instagram.

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