Athletes You Never Knew Grew Up Together
Considering the extreme rarity of a child growing up to become a professional athlete, it seems exceedingly unlikely that two pros would have grown up together.
But there are more examples of this than you might think.
Mike Conley and Greg Oden played on perhaps one of the best AAU basketball teams of all time, and Clayton Kershaw and Matthew Stafford have made one Texas high school very proud.
These athletes grew up competing with and against each other, learning from each other and stealing each other’s pizza…wait. What?
Pizza thievery aside, many of these childhood friends have remained close to this day.
Honorable Mention: LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony
- You probably knew about it.
- They didn’t exactly “grow up” together.
This one is an honorable mention because:
But LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony were competing rivals in high school.
The two met at a USA Basketball development camp in 2001, according to ESPN.
Then when James was a junior and Anthony a senior in high school, their respective teams, St. Vincent-St. Mary and Oak Hill Academy, met for a game.
Oak Hill won that round, but two years later James got the upper hand. He went No. 1 overall in the 2003 NBA draft and Anthony went No. 3.
Baron Davis and Paul Pierce
Baron Davis told ESPN Los Angeles's The Kamenetzky Brothers in 2011 that he has known Paul Pierce since he was nine years old. The two met at a YMCA in Inglewood, California.
They have remained friends over time and throughout their NBA careers.
They even hosted a charity event—A Midsummer Night’s Dream—together in 2006 and shot a commercial for ESPN.
Matt Harvey and Jesse Hahn
On June 14, 2014, right-hander Jesse Hahn started for the San Diego Padres in a game against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Looking on was Hahn’s former high school teammate and injured Mets ace, Matt Harvey.
According to The Star-Ledger's Dave Hutchinson, Harvey and Hahn both pitched at Fitch High School in Connecticut and also played basketball together.
Of the June 14 start and the masses of Hahn supporters in the crowd, Harvey said, “I know it’s exciting for him and anytime a small town like ours has this much success in sports, it’s always awesome.”
Chase Utley and Milton Bradley
MLB stars Chase Utley and Milton Bradley attended the same high school together—Long Beach Polytechnic—in Long Beach, California.
One of their coaches told the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Baxter and Ben Bolch in 2009 that while Bradley clearly had what it took to make the big leagues, no one was so sure about Utley.
Lamar Odom and Metta World Peace
Back when Metta World Peace was Ron Artest, he became friends with Lamar Odom in Queens, New York.
The two played blacktop basketball together and later won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.
When Odom was waived by the Dallas Mavericks in 2012, World Peace joked with reporters that his friend should come back the next year as a ball boy.
Mike Conley and Greg Oden
Mike Conley and Greg Oden started their childhood friendship on the same AAU basketball team in seventh grade.
They continued it at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis and then in college at Ohio State.
Both players were selected in the 2007 NBA draft, but that’s where the similarities end. Oden’s career has been plagued by injuries, but Conley has found stability as a point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Salvador Perez and Jose Altuve
Salvador Perez, a catcher for the Kansas City Royals, and Jose Altuve, second baseman for the Houston Astros, have played baseball together “pretty much since birth,” according to CBSSports.com's Matt Synder.
Born just four days apart in their native Venezuela, the two gushed over each other’s talents at the 2014 MLB All-Star Game media day.
Said Perez of his friend, “He always believed in himself and I always knew he'd make it all the way to the majors.”
Gary Payton and Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd and Gary Payton met when Payton’s dad was coaching Kidd’s team.
Five years older than Kidd, Payton taught him the ropes on the playgrounds of Oakland, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's C.W. Nevius.
Both went on to successful NBA careers—Payton was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013, and Kidd’s chances for the same fate are certainly high.
In 2000, when the two played in the All-Star Game in Oakland, both were given honorary keys to the city.
Mike Moustakas and Matt Dominguez
Mike Moustakas and Matt Dominguez are both major league third basemen—Moustakas with the Royals and Dominguez with the Astros.
The two grew up together in Southern California. According to Moustakas, via MLB.com's Gene Duffey, the two played in a Mid Valley Pony League and a few traveling leagues together.
The pair both went to Chatsworth High School and started on the varsity baseball team as freshmen.
More recently, Dominguez apparently kicked Moustakas out of his fantasy league for not setting a roster.
Dwight Howard and Josh Smith
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard and Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith became friends when they played on the same AAU basketball team in Atlanta.
The friendship has sustained, and Howard’s team even (unsuccessfully) attempted to sign Smith in 2013 to reunite the fearsome frontcourt duo.
Ian Kinsler, Brian Anderson, Chris Duncan and Shelley Duncan
This is no pair. Here we have a group of four guys who grew up together and would each go on to play Major League Baseball. There must be something in the water there in Tucson, Arizona.
In fact, Canyon del Oro High School has produced seven major league players in its history.
According to The Explorer's Chris Flora, Kinsler, now the second baseman for the Texas Rangers, was often overlooked in high school. This isn’t surprising since four eventual major leaguers—Brian Anderson, Chris Duncan and Shelly Duncan—were all on his team at some point.
But as a senior, Kinsler batted .504 and stole 26 bags en route to a state championship that Brian Anderson also helped win.
Marshawn Lynch and Josh Johnson
Marshawn Lynch and Josh Johnson are two cousins who grew up together in Oakland, California.
Though they will be rivals on the field this upcoming season (Lynch with the Seattle Seahawks and Johnson with the San Francisco 49ers), the two are on the same page off the field.
Together they formed the Fam First Family Foundation in 2011 and have hosted several fundraising events as part of their foundation’s mission.
Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis and Kendrick Lewis
Mike Wallace grew up with Keenan and Kendrick Lewis in New Orleans—Kendrick Lewis told the Sun Sentinel's Chris Perkins, "We're all brothers. We're not just friends."
All three played at O. Perry Walker High School and went on to have their paths cross later.
Wallace and Kendrick played together at Ole Miss, and Wallace and Keenan both played for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2009-12.
Logan Couture and Drew Doughty
Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings grew up playing hockey together in London, Ontario. To this day, they still work out together in the NHL offseason.
According to The New York Times' Andrew Knoll, they both played other sports as kids but opted for hockey when the time came to choose.
Despite the friendship, one would think it was a little hard for Couture to take when his Sharks lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Kings in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant
Michael Beasley stole pizza from Kevin Durant when they were kids—but they were able to move past it and become friends.
The famous pizza-nabbing took place at a rec center near Washington, D.C. From then on, Beasley and Durant became inseparable.
Durant told The Seattle Times' Percy Allen in 2008, “He sort of lived with me almost. He would come over before school, after school, stay late and then leave. [Our relationship] is very tight. We're brothers.”
Now, Durant is an NBA MVP and Beasley a six-year NBA veteran.
Clayton Kershaw and Matthew Stafford
Clayton Kershaw and Matthew Stafford went to the same high school—Highland Park—in Texas.
The Cy Young winner and No. 1 NFL draft pick played both baseball and football together growing up.
Stafford played catcher and shortstop at times while Kershaw was on the mound, and Kershaw played center for Stafford as a freshman.
They went their separate sporting ways before becoming upperclassmen but have remained friends ever since.
In 2011, Stafford rented a suite at Cowboys Stadium for Kershaw when the Lions were in town.