The 20 Most Talented Kids in Sports
It was beloved President John F. Kennedy who once said, “Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future." But surely he didn't mean they'd be running the world as kids, and don't call me Shirley.
Yet it seems that the future is now, as child prodigies are blossoming around the globe faster than a gray-haired maid chasing a bridal bouquet.
Let's meet the young individuals currently lighting up scoreboards around the world, the talented sprouts shattering expectations one highlight reel at a time.
Here are the most gifted of the bunch, each shadowed by an overly ambitious parent.
Puberty wasn't, or in most cases won't be, easy for these superstars.
20. Mike Miles, Basketball
With ankle-destroying moves and the sweetest stroke around, this legend in the making has all the tools to become great. But what separates fourth-grader Mike Miles from other prodigies is his willingness to pass the rock.
This humble guard is reminiscent of a seasoned Rajon Rondo.
19. Ariel Antigua, Baseball
His mechanics need some seasoning, but Ariel Antigua's talent is beyond worldly.
Antigua can be seen slugging through thick tires like a champ at the age of five, when most of his peers are testing the taste of glue in kindergarten, and slamming 85-mph pitches when his classmates are enjoying naps.
18. Kai Fifield, Soccer
The heartwarming coincidence behind this story has soccer prodigies around the world crossing their stubby fingers.
While on a holiday visit to Barcelona's Camp Nou, seven-year-old Kai Fifield joined a local game outside the stadium. Turned out the Spanish youngsters had scouts from the Barcelona youth academy watching closely.
Fifield played well enough for the scouts to offer him a formal trial the next day. He's already on his way.
17. Jordan McCabe, Basketball
Naturally, this slick-handed youth has been on Ellen DeGeneres' show, performed at NBA All-Star Weekend and riveted audiences around the country during college basketball halftimes.
But what separates Jordan McCabe from the competition is his freestyle flow. As we expected, the entertaining Harlem Globetrotters took a chance on the crafty middle-schooler in the 2011 draft.
16. Josue Vargas, Boxing
Since losing his first bout at the age of nine to an older, more seasoned pugilist, talented southpaw Josue Vargas has secured four Junior Olympics championship titles and developed an array of electric combos.
The Bronx-bred boxer displays a fierce focus and a violent jab. Beware.
15. Guan Tian-Lang, Golf
The youngest player on the European Tour, 13-year-old Guan Tian-Lang is light years ahead of the competition. Just don't let his missed cut at the China Open cloud his promise.
Called a "generational talent" by coach Danny Webb, China's young sensation has the Tiger Woods focus and the Sam Snead explosion necessary to approach greatness.
14. Cody Jordan, Basketball
In the same manner that Gus Williams' commentating makes watching grass grow actually entertaining, four-year-old Cody Jordan makes a dribbling workout euphoric.
And no, he's not related to the great one, although we'd love to see how he'd respond in a Game 6.
13. Austin Olson, Curling
(Fast-forward to 3:34)
Having thrown rocks since the age of two, six-year-old Austin Olson is only on the brink of stardom in a sport where he hardly outweighs the stones.
The Saskatchewan native might just be the next great Brier champion.
12. Brooke Harris, Cricket
Gallo Images/Getty Images
When legendary cricketer Ron Hamence made his 105 score as a 15-year-old, it was a record that would remain for 81 years. Until 14-year-old Brooke Harris came along.
The Henley High student became the youngest player to hit a century for senior grade cricket at her club West Torrens with a score of 137.
Flossing those braces is a tougher task for this talented teenager.
11. Leonel Angel Coira, Soccer
With a youthful aura and a lightning-quick set of feet, Argentine sensation Leonel Angel Coira is sprinting his way up the pitch.
It was in August 2011 when Real Madrid, Spain's premier club, signed the then-seven-year-old to their youth academy after seeing him in tryouts.
He was blessed with Lionel Messi's jello-bowl haircut. Only time will tell if he was given the same talent.
10. Ariel Hsing, Table Tennis
Like hilarious fictional table-tennis phenom Randy Daytona (played by Dan Fogler in Balls of Fury), 16-year-old Ariel Hsing is oozing with talent and covered with immense expectations.
After becoming the youngest U.S. table tennis national champion in history at 15 (in 2010) and repeating as champion a year later, Hsing set her sights on Olympic promise.
At the 2012 London Games, Hsing barely lost in the round of 32 to to the No. 2 seed, eventual gold medalist Li Xiaoxia of China. And she's only scraped the edge of prosperity.
9. Jaylin Fleming, Basketball
Dubbed the next Derrick Rose, seventh-grade marauder Jaylin Fleming possesses a nonstop motor and a humble willingness to do what it takes to become a legend.
But don't fear the spiritual baller himself—fear the talent God gave him.
8. Jashaun Agosto, Basketball
With preternatural dribbling abilities and a flair for the dramatic, we envisioned then-12-year-old Jashaun Agosto as the next Allen Iverson.
That was until he proclaimed, "The secret to my success is practice."
7. David Sills, Football
At an age when most teenagers are admiring their sparse peach-fuzz mustaches, 13-year-old David Sills was signing a letter of intent for powerhouse USC.
The youngest athlete to ever accept a college scholarship offer now has his blond-bro-sights set on dominating the next level, and like he said, "What's not to love about Southern Cal?"
Now 16, Sills is coming off a freshman season in which he completed 66 percent of his passes for 28 touchdowns. With legendary quarterback guru Steve Clarkson mentoring him, we could be looking at the next NFL phenom.
6. Keith O'Dell, Billiards
If he keeps playing like Paul Newman in The Hustler, five-year-old Keith O'Dell should have a flooded college fund by the time he reaches third grade.
His mastery of the pockets may be genetic, but his swagger is self-discovered. Perhaps it's time we call him Fast Eddie Fel-sprout.
5. Jack Robinson, Surfing
Western Australia's Jack Robinson has the bruising name and Cali-bro locks necessary to become the next great surfer. And, of course, the moves.
The 14-year-old just landed the May 2012 cover of TransWorld SURF, officially signaling his arrival on the chopping scene.
4. Dakota Simms, Basketball
This cherubic phenom has the will and maturity to succeed. While most phenoms are being escorted to The Ellen DeGeneres Show and signing premature commitments to powerhouse colleges, Dakota Simms is chucking 300 to 500 shots daily in the gym with Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins.
Three years ago, as a nine-year-old, Simms drained shots like he was painting an artistic masterpiece. Wilkins was impressed, and soon the world will be too.
3. Tom Schaar, Skateboarding
2. Oliver Wahlstrom, Ice Hockey
This young sniper would be back for more as an 11-year-old. Between periods of a game between theand
1. Mike 'The Kid' Landers, Table Tennis
Facing the country's top professionals (including 26-year-old Samson Dubina) during the 2009 U.S. National Championship didn't faze droopy-haired Mike Landers. In fact, "The Kid" became the youngest player to win the men’s national singles championship.
With a bruising forehand and world-class agility, the teenage phenom can't be stopped. Landers owns the sweetest swing we've seen since Ken Griffey Jr. was first named "The Kid."
Follow me for more popcorn popping.