All in the Family: 30 Best Second-Generation Athletes
With players like Steph Curry, Patrick Mahomes and Fernando Tatis Jr., we’re seeing more and more second-generation athletes follow in their parents’ footsteps.
All in the Family: 30 Best Second-Generation Athletes
There are multiple things that coaches can teach young athletes. They can teach swings in sports like baseball and golf. They can teach shooting motions in sports like basketball. Or, they can refine footwork for sports like football and soccer. But one thing that coaches can’t teach is genetics.
Many of the kids of pro athletes go on to be athletes themselves, and they have a leg up on their competition due to the genetics that were passed onto them. Often, these second-generation athletes even surpass their famous fathers or mothers and become even better at their sport, or even other sports.
Here’s a look at the best of those athletes who maximized the gifts they were given to become standouts in their field. We're talking about the 30 best second-generation athletes.
30. Joey Bosa
Career: 5 seasons (2016-present)
Stats: 240 TKL, 47.5 SACK, 5 FF
First generation: John Bosa
Bottom Line: Joey Bosa
The Bosa football family tree has lots of branches including brothers, cousins, uncles, great uncles and fathers. John Bosa was a first-round pick by the Dolphins in 1987 but ended up being a bust. However, he stayed in South Florida and raised two future NFL players in Joey and Nick Bosa.
Younger brother Nick may end up being the better player one day, but big brother Joey currently holds that title. He racked up 47.5 sacks in his first 63 games played and made three Pro Bowls by the age of 25.
29. Domantas Sabonis
Career: 5 seasons (2016-present)
Stats: 13.6 PPG, 87 RPG, 3.3 APG
First generation: Arvydas Sabonis
Bottom Line: Domantas Sabonis
In the 1980s, Arvydas Sabonis was considered one of the five best basketball players in the world as he played overseas. In the 2020s, his son, Domantas, hasn’t reached that status yet, but the Pacers forward is a multi-time All-Star.
The younger Sabonis was born in Portland, Oregon, while his dad played for the Trail Blazers, but he grew up in Spain and began his professional career there. He then returned to the Pacific Northwest while playing for Gonzaga before becoming a first-round NBA pick, just like Arvydas.
28. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Career: 3 seasons (2019-present)
Stats: .290 BA, 52 HR, 175 RBI
First generation: Vladimir Guerrero
Bottom Line: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Both Guerreros are prodigious home-run hitters who made their first MLB All-Star Games in their third seasons. Vlad Jr. was born in Montreal while his dad played for the Expos, and while he was raised in the Dominican Republic, he would tag along with his dad during summers growing up. Junior doesn’t have the speed or throwing arm of his father, but he does have more power, which is saying a lot as Senior clubbed 449 home runs in his career.
In 2021, Guerrero Jr. hit a home run in the MLB All-Star Game, thus making him and Vlad Sr. the third father-son duo to homer in the Midsummer Classic. Junior also did something his father never did by winning the All-Star Game MVP and became the youngest to do so at 22 years old.
27. Young Tom Morris
Career: 12 years (1864-75)
Stats: Four-time Open champion, 1 Open Championship runner-up, Youngest ever major winner
First generation: Old Tom Morris
Bottom Line: Young Tom Morris
No, this is not a joke — Old Tom Morris was the name of the father (obviously) while Young Tom Morris was his son. Each Tom won the British Open four times, and they even went back-to-back as Old Tom won his last in 1867 and Young Tom won his first in 1868.
Young Tom first beat his father in a match at 13, made his pro debut at 14,and won his first major championship at 16 years old. He won all four of his majors by 21 but would pass away just three years later after suffering a hemorrhage.
26. Lance McCullers Jr.
Career: 6 seasons (2015-18, 2020-present)
Stats: 38-27 (.585 W-L%), 3.59 ERA, 654 K
First generation: Lance McCullers Sr.
Bottom Line: Lance McCullers Jr.
The senior McCullers was nicknamed Baby Goose, as he was reminiscent of his then-Padres teammate Goose Gossage. Thus, does that make the junior McCullers Baby Gosling? Unlike his father, who was a reliever, McCullers Jr. has been a starter for most of his entire career and helped the Astros win the now-tarnished 2017 World Series.
The only time he didn’t start was when he suffered an elbow injury in 2018 and pitched out the bullpen for a few games. In hindsight, it ended up being a heroic effort, as McCullers Jr. pitched through a torn ligament that would require Tommy John Surgery and cause him to miss the entire following season.
25. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Sport: Auto Racing
Career: 19 seasons (1999-2017)
Stats: 631 races, 26 wins, Two-time Daytona 500 winner
First generation: Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Bottom Line: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
While Dale Earnhardt Sr. was known as “The Intimidator,” Dale Jr. is one of the most affable drivers in NASCAR history. In fact, he won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award 15 times, which is 14 more than his famous father.
While Junior can’t touch his father’s success on the track — and few drivers truly can — he does have one more Daytona 500 victory than Senior. Junior has also transcended the sport of auto racing, becoming a celebrity outside of it and dabbling in broadcasting, media and ownership.
24. Cheryl Ford
Career: 11 seasons (2003-13)
Stats: 10.8 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 0.8 BPG
First generation: Karl Malone
Bottom Line: Cheryl Ford
While people always talk about Karl Malone never winning a championship, they can’t say the same about his daughter, Cheryl Ford. She won three WNBA titles, was a four-time All-Star and two-time rebounding champion.
Ford and Malone didn’t have the greatest relationship growing up, as Malone was just 17 years old when he became a father. Ironically, after Ford was born, Malone wouldn’t see her again until she was 17 years old in 1998. The two then established a relationship afterwards, and Ford even went to Louisiana Tech, just like her dad.
23. Kevin Love
Career: 13 seasons (2008-present)
Stats: 18.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 2.4 APG
First generation: Stan Love
Bottom Line: Kevin Love
Love has quite the lineage. His dad, Stan, played four years in the NBA; his uncle, Mike, is a founding member of The Beach Boys; his three second-cousins are also founders of The Beach Boys; and his aunt was a triathlete and Ironman World Champion. Additionally, Love’s godfather was Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, and Love’s middle name of Wesley is in honor of Unseld, who was Stan Love’s teammate on Washington.
If that wasn’t enough, Love also was Little League teammates with another second-generation NBA star, Klay Thompson, in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
22. Cody Bellinger
Career: 5 seasons (2017-present)
Stats: .268 BA, 127 HR, 335 RBI
First generation: Clay Bellinger
Bottom Line: Cody Bellinger
Before Clay Bellinger won three World Series championships, he spent a decade in the minors with three years spent with the Phoenix Firebirds. During that time, his son, Cody, was born and raised in the Greater Phoenix Area.
Cody would win a Little League World Series in 2007 and then a World Series 13 years later with the Dodgers. Along the way, he also was NL Rookie of the Year (2017), NL MVP (2019) and a two-time All-Star (2017, 2019).
21. Clay Matthews III
Career: 11 seasons (2009-19)
Stats: 519 TKL, 91.5 SACK, 17 FF
First generation: Clay Matthews Jr.
Bottom Line: Clay Matthews III
By virtue of being a third-generation athlete, Matthews III is also a second-generation athlete. His father, Clay Jr., recorded the third-most tackles in NFL history over his 19-year career as a linebacker, and Clay III followed in his father’s footsteps. He also played linebacker, and both father and son racked up at least four Pro Bowls and 82.5 sacks during their respective careers.
Clay III’s brother — and Clay Jr.’s other son, Casey Matthews — also was an NFL linebacker and played four seasons with the Eagles.
20. Bruce Matthews
Career: 19 seasons (1983-2001)
Stats: 296 GM, 14-time Pro Bowler, 7-time All-Pro
First generation: Clay Matthews Sr.
Bottom Line: Bruce Matthews
While Clay Matthews III was a good player, his uncle Bruce was a great player. Bruce is the brother of Clay Jr. and the son of the original Clay Matthews who played in the 1950s. Bruce was the NFL’s iron man, having never missed a game due to injury, and his 293 games started is the third-most in NFL history.
Matthews started literally everywhere on the offensive line, including all five positions as well as being a long snapper. His 14 Pro Bowl selections are tied for the most in NFL history.
19. Seth Jones
Career: 8 seasons (2013-present)
Stats: 381 GM, 50 G, 173 A
First generation: Popeye Jones
Bottom Line: Seth Jones
There are a handful of second-generation players on this list who gravitated towards different sports than their parents, and Seth Jones is one of them. His father, Popeye, had a journeyman 11-year NBA career. He spent just one year with the Denver Nuggets, but two of his sons gravitated toward the ice rink in the hockey-crazed state of Colorado.
Both Caleb and Seth would go onto the NHL where Seth would become one of the best defensemen in the league. He’s made four NHL All-Star teams and won two gold medals as an amateur player.
18. Misty May-Treanor
Sport: Beach Volleyball
Career: 14 seasons (1999-2012)
Stats: 112 tournament wins, 3 Olympic gold medals, 4 AVP MVPs
First generation: Butch May
Bottom Line: Misty May-Treanor
The beach volleyball legend is the daughter of an Olympian, although he played volleyball indoors instead of outdoors. Butch May competed at the 1968 Olympics where the United States finished seventh out of 10 nations. May-Treanor would win the gold that her father was unable to, as she collected three gold medals and another three World Championships. She and her partner, Kerri Walsh-Jennings, once had a win streak of 112 straight matches, which is the longest in beach volleyball history.
May-Treanor’s athletic family extends beyond her father, though. Her aunt, Betty Ann Grubb Stuart, was a tennis player who made the 1977 US Open doubles final. Also, May-Treanor married Matt Treanor, who spent nine years as a catcher in MLB.
17. Fernando Tatis Jr.
Career: 3 seasons (2019-present)
Stats: .297 BA, 67 HR, 47 SB
First generation: Fernando Tatis
Bottom Line: Fernando Tatis Jr.
Just think, the elder Tatis is the only player in MLB history to hit two grand slams in one inning, and his son is already better than his father ever was!
Tatis Jr. made his MLB debut at 20 years old, was an MVP candidate at 21 and made his first All-Star appearance at 22. He is a five-tool player who has the potential to become the first 50-50 player in MLB history by posting at least 50 home runs and 50 stolen bases in a single season.
16. Christian McCaffrey
Career: 4 seasons (2017-present)
Stats: 3,145 rushing yards, 2,672 receiving yards, 45 TD
First generation: Ed McCaffrey
Bottom Line: Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey has broken both records and stereotypes in the first couple of years of his pro career. In 2019, he became the third player in NFL history to record over 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season, but athletic achievements are just par for the course for the McCaffreys.
Dad, Ed, won three Super Bowls, while mom, Lisa, was a soccer standout at Stanford. Christian has three brothers that played college football, while his Uncle Billy won a title under Coach K with Duke Basketball. Even Christian’s grandfather, Dave Sime, was an all-world athlete as a sprinter who won a silver medal at the 1960 Olympics.
15. Roberto Alomar
Career: 17 seasons (1988-2004)
Stats: .300 BA, 210 HR, 474 SB
First generation: Sandy Alomar Sr.
Bottom Line: Roberto Alomar
Alomar was raised in Puerto Rico, but during the summer, he and his brother Sandy Jr. would join their father and hang around MLB clubhouses. Sandy Sr. enjoyed a productive 15-year career, but Roberto had a Hall of Fame career. He was a five-tool player who is a lifetime .300 hitter, had over 200 homers and 400 steals, and also won a record 10 Gold Gloves at second base.
The three Alomars — Roberto, Sandy Sr. and Sandy Jr. — combined to play over 5,000 MLB games.
14. Paolo Maldini
Career: 25 seasons (1984-2009)
Stats: 902 GM, 33 G, 10 A
First generation: Cesare Maldini
Bottom Line: Paolo Maldini
Cesare spent 17 years with AC Milan as both a player and coach, but his son, Paolo, spent a quarter century with the Italian club. The elder Maldini coached his son both on AC Milan and with the Italian National Team, and Paolo’s 902 appearances with AC Milan are the most ever for any player with any single Serie A club.
There is now a third generation of soccer-playing Maldinis, as Paolo’s sons, Christian and Daniel, both played with AC Milan’s youth team. Christian would go on to play for other Italian senior teams, while Daniel made his senior debut for AC Milan in 2020.
- Pete Maravich
Career: 10 seasons (1970-80)
Stats: 24.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.2 RPG
First generation: Press Maravich
Bottom Line: Pete Maravich
Petar “Press” Maravich played in the NBA’s inaugural season in 1946-47 before embarking on a long coaching career. His son, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, was a basketball prodigy who may be the greatest college player of all time.
He is the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer despite not being allowed to play as a freshman and not having the luxury of a 3-point shot. He was nearly as potent offensively in the NBA and led the league in scoring in 1976-77 while also being a five-time All-Star.
12. Andrew Luck
Career: 6 seasons (2012-16, 2018)
Stats: 23,671 YDS, 171 TD, 60.8 CMP%
First generation: Oliver Luck
Bottom Line: Andrew Luck
Ironically, Oliver Luck was a teammate of Archie Manning with the early 1980s Oilers, and Oliver’s son, Andrew, would be the one to help usher Archie’s son, Peyton, out of Indianapolis. Andrew had an interesting career that started with a bang but then had a rough patch with injuries, including one that knocked him out of the entire 2017 season.
He returned in 2018 and posted the best numbers of his career, but a new injury during the 2019 preseason led him to shockingly retire at 29 years old. After watching the Colts cycle through numerous quarterbacks since then, the fans are hoping that Luck reconsiders his retirement and returns to the field one day.
11. Laila Ali
Career: 9 years (1999-2007)
Stats: 24-0-0 record, 21 KO, five-time champion
First generation: Muhammad Ali
Bottom Line: Laila Ali
Just like her famous father, Laila Ali also has a claim to being “The Greatest.” Muhammad Ali initially disagreed with his daughter’s decision to follow in his footsteps, as he felt the sport was too dangerous for her.
However, it would soon be evident that the only person in danger was the one who stepped into the ring against Laila. She was undefeated in her eight-year career, which included a win over Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, the daughter of her father’s rival, Joe Frazier. That 2001 match was awarded to Laila in a majority decision, and it was the first pay-per-view boxing card to be headlined by women.
10. Alex Ovechkin
Career: 16 seasons (2005-present)
Stats: 1,197 GM, 730 G, 590 A
First generation: Tatyana Ovechkina
Bottom Line: Alex Ovechkin
No, that’s not a misspelling. Ovechkina is the surname of Alex Ovechkin’s mother. She was a basketball player for the USSR and won two Olympic gold medals with their national team. Ovechkina also won six European Championships and would later become a basketball coach in Russia.
She would marry Mikhail Ovechkin, who was a soccer player, and together they produced one of the greatest hockey players of all-time in Alexander. He wears No. 8 in honor of his mom who wore the same number during her basketball career.
9. Grant Hill
Career: 18 seasons (1994-2013)
Stats: 16.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 4.1 APG
First generation: Calvin Hill
Bottom Line: Grant Hill
At 6-foot-4, Calvin Hill is the tallest running back in NFL history. His son, Grant, is 4-inches taller, and that height was best used on the hardwood rather than the gridiron.
Despite Calvin being a four-time Pro Bowler, Grant even exceeded his father’s career and was one of the best players of his era. He was extremely accomplished at the amateur level, as a professional and on the international stage. He’s also had a successful post-NBA career, being inducted into the Hall of Fame and joining the ownership group for the Atlanta Hawks.
8. Ken Griffey Jr.
Career: 22 seasons (1989-2010)
Stats: .284 BA, 630 HR, 1,836 RBI
First generation: Ken Griffey Sr.
Bottom Line: Ken Griffey Jr.
One of the greatest father-son moments in sports history happened with the Griffeys in 1990. During a game against the Angels, father Ken Griffey Sr. launched a home run only to be outdone with the next batter, his son Ken Griffey Jr., who also went yard for back-to-back father-son homers, the only time in history that’s occurred.
Senior was a heck of a player who made three All-Star teams, but Junior was arguably the face of baseball during the 1990s. He was a 13-time All-Star, won the 1997 AL MVP, won 10 Gold Gloves and received 99.32 percent of Hall of Fame votes, which is third-most all-time.
7. Stephen Curry
Career: 12 seasons (2009-present)
Stats: 24.2 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.6 RPG
First generation: Dell Curry
Bottom Line: Stephen Curry
As one of the sons of a 16-year NBA veteran, Steph Curry often got to tag along with his father to games. There are videos of Steph shooting on NBA courts when he was no older than 10 years old, and he clearly took after his father, Dell, when it comes to being a shooter.
Dell retired with a 40.2 percent career shooter from deep, which ranked 12th all-time. His oldest son, Steph, ranks seventh at 43.3 percent, while younger son, Seth, ranks second all-time at 44.4 percent.
6. Richard Petty
Sport: Auto Racing
Career: 35 seasons (1958-92)
Stats: 1,184 races, 200 wins, seven-time Cup Series champion
First generation: Lee Petty
Bottom Line: Richard Petty
The Pettys are synonymous with NASCAR, and the patriarch of the family was Lee Petty. He won the inaugural Daytona 500 and was a three-time Cup Series champion as one of the pioneers of the sport. Yet, his son, Richard, topped him and is on the Mount Rushmore of NASCAR. Richard won a record seven Daytona 500s and was the first driver to win the Cup Series seven times.
Richard is part of the second generation of Pettys in NASCAR, and there are also third and fourth generations. His son, Kyle, won eight Cup Series races, and grandson, Adam, raced one Cup Series race before being killed during a practice session at just 19 years old.
5. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Career: 22 years (1996-2017)
Stats: 50-0-0 record, 27 KO, 15-time champion
First generation: Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Bottom Line: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. became one of the best boxers of his generation after honing his skills under his father. The elder Mayweather never reached anywhere near the level of success as his son, but he did have a 16-year career in the ring with a 28-6-1 record (17 KO). But Mayweather Sr. wasn’t the only boxer that Mayweather Jr. could look up to, as his two uncles, Roger and Jeff, were also boxers. Roger won WBA and WBC titles and then went onto train Mayweather Jr., while Jeff held the IBO super featherweight title.
Junior won 15 major world championships and is one of a dozen boxers over the last 100 years to win a major title and retire undefeated.
4. Barry Bonds
Career: 22 seasons (1986-2007)
Stats: .298 BA, 762 HR, 514 SB
First generation: Bobby Bonds
Bottom Line: Barry Bonds
Kids are always trying to outdo their parents, and Barry Bonds is a great example of that. His father, Bobby, was the second player in MLB history to post at least 300 homers and 300 stolen bases.
So, what did Barry do? He became the first, and only, player in history to have 500 homers and 500 steals. Of course, Barry didn’t just stop at 500 home runs, as he is MLB’s “Home Run King” with 762 career long balls. He also is the all-time leader in walks, and his seven MVP awards are also the most ever.
3. Patrick Mahomes
Career: 4 seasons (2017-present)
Stats: 14,142 YDS, 114 TD, 66 CMP%
First generation: Pat Mahomes
Bottom Line: Patrick Mahomes
Father Pat was a journeyman MLB pitcher who pitched for six teams over 11 years. While he was with the Twins in 1995, his son, Patrick, was born, and the younger Mahomes initially dabbled in baseball, even throwing a no-hitter in high school.
But Patrick decided to go with football, and it would be the understatement of the century to say that he chose the right sport. He may very well be the most talented quarterback in NFL history and won a Super Bowl, an MVP and a Super Bowl MVP all before turning 25.
2. Kobe Bryant
Career: 20 seasons (1996-2016)
Stats: 25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG
First generation: Joe Bryant
Bottom Line: Kobe Bryant
Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was born and raised in Philadelphia and then started his career with the 76ers. That is also where Kobe was born, and his middle name of “Bean” takes after his father’s nickname. Kobe would live in Philadelphia and Italy while his father played overseas, before moving back to the States and embarking on a legendary career with the Lakers. His 15 All-NBA selections are the most ever by a guard, and he is the youngest All-Star in NBA history and the oldest player to ever score 60 points.
The next generation of basketball-playing Bryants, unfortunately, was aboard the helicopter alongside Kobe that took seven lives in 2020. Kobe always believed that his second-oldest daughter, Gianna, was destined to play at UConn and then in the WNBA one day.
1. Peyton Manning
Career: 17 seasons (1998-2010, 2012-15)
Stats: 71,940 YDS, 539 TD, 65.3 CMP%
First generation: Archie Manning
Bottom Line: Peyton Manning
The Mannings are considered the First Family of Football, as father Archie was a Pro Bowl quarterback who produced a pair of two-time winning Super Bowl quarterbacks in Peyton and Eli.
With all due respect to Eli’s postseason heroics, he can’t compare to big brother Peyton who is on the short list of greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He won a record five MVP awards and retired as the NFL’s passing king and author of some of the greatest commercials ever by an athlete.