Mother's Day is just a month away, so what better time to take a look at those pro athletes who make every day Mother's Day. I'm referring to the guys who can't go more than a few days without the reassuring embrace of the woman who gave them life; who simply don't eat if every other meal isn't mom's chicken tetrazzini.
Considering the logistics behind keeping a loved one in the stands, or in the condo, throughout the season of any of the major sports leagues; the strength of the bond between mother and son/teammate/star can be measured in both dollars and effort.
While being labeled a "Mama's Boy" carries some measure of derision, it's a wide net that catches both the basement-dwelling creepers as well as the dudes who just want their mom to drive a brand new, but sensible, Cadillac sedan...because they love them.
In this spread, the whole spectrum is covered. These are the 20 biggest Mama's Boys in sports.
Capitals star winger Alex Ovechkin's recent hot streak could be a sign that the Russian star may be returning to form. After dominating much of the NHL's Eastern Conference from 2005-10, Ovi's play slipped precipitously over the next two disappointing years.
It's no secret that Ovechkin spends much of the season in Washington, D.C., in the company of his parents and is especially close to his mother Tatiana; a former star athlete herself. In fact, their close-knit relationship prompted some to speculate about how her presence may be affecting his performance on the ice.
I have a feeling that few reporters would have the cojones to pose such a question in person.
The average man likely strives for a balanced relationship with his mother; maintaining his independence without sacrificing the special bond between them. Nuggets center JaVale McGee is not one of them.
Mother Pamela—a former WNBA star—is a much more omnipresent part of McGee's life and career. She not only plays the role of doting mom, but also acts as his business manager and de facto life coach.
And, McGee seems to be quite content with the arrangement—it was just announced that the OWN network will be airing a reality show about the pair, titled Millionaire Mama's Boy.
Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is one of the NHL's young superstars—keying one Stanley Cup victory already and helping position Chicago as the favorite to represent the Western Conference this year.
However, Kane has also garnered a well-earned reputation for living life by the gospel of Andrew WK—as evident by Google's search suggestions ("Patrick Kane Drunk") as well as the results. Thankfully, he turned to the one person capable of reining in his shenanigans: Mom.
Mother Donna joined Kane while playing for Switzerland's HC Biel during the recent lockout. Kane totally partied regardless—and by party, I mean ate mac 'n' cheese and watched old movies with his mama.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is the premier runner in the NFL. Players like the Texans' Arian Foster and the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch are elite at the running back position, but the bottom line is that there is A.P. and everyone else. He has power, vision, instincts and deceptive home run speed.
Peterson is the product of a solid character and innate, rare physical ability. And who can he thank for both? Mom.
Bonita Peterson was a champion sprinter in Texas and the mother who pushed AP to become the best. Nature and nurture—the ingredients that make a mama's boy a future Pro Football Hall of Famer.
The label mama's boy carries with it the presumption that the man it's applied to is much closer—emotionally, geographically and functionally—to his mother than the typical guy. How that dynamic is perceived depends on how the bond manifests itself; it can be a cute, if not quirky, example of his family-oriented lifestyle, or a red flag that belies his maturity.
However, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte's mother's comments on the Today Show last summer just made things appear weird. Ileana Lochte's insights regarding what motivates his one-night stands and other bachelor antics showed that the two of them may be a smidgen too candid with each other.
Lions DT Ndamukong Suh quickly developed a reputation as a dirty player after he was selected second overall in the 2010 NFL draft. Incidents like the infamous slinging of QB Jake Delhomme, or stomping of OT Evan Dietrich-Smith, seem to contradict the life he lives off the field.
Suh's family is a tight-knit bunch, with his mother Bernadette taking the lead. In the offseason, he lives at home with his mother and sister, Ngum, who acts as his business manager.
Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera grew up in the Dominican Republic, where his mother Maria Teresa Astacio raised him and his two sisters. With a mostly absent father, Astacio—with help from Cabrera's grandmother—found a way to work and provide a good home.
Cabrera clearly understands the value of the sacrifices she made and has made sure both his mother and grandmother are at his side throughout his career. He's a mama's boy, because it's the least he could do.
After his stellar MLB debut, it's easy to forget that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper isn't even old enough to legally buy a sixer. His saucy back-and-forth with the media, bench-clearing smack-talk—these are the attributes of a pro who's been in the league long enough to know AAA isn't around the corner.
So, a helpful reminder that Harper—despite his skill and veteran-like presence—is barely more than a kid playing ball...is that his mother Sheri made cookies for Gio Gonzalez and other teammates during spring training last year.
Seahawks WR Sidney Rice's up-and-down career has been defined by moments of brilliance overshadowed by injuries. Despite trouble staying on the field, Rice—the person—is universally known as genuinely courteous and a consummate professional.
He points to the love and hard work of his mother Ida Coleman, who single-handedly raised Rice and his brothers in the small rural town of Gaffney, S.C.
After she instilled the values which helped propel Rice to an NFL career, he's made sure that she'll never have to struggle again—buying her a dream home and sharing his success.
When Padres pitcher Tyson Ross made his major league debut for the Oakland A's in 2010, he didn't let a little thing like the marathon-esque MLB schedule get in the way of spending quality time with his mother. He was raised in Oakland, Calif., and used the call-up as an excuse to move in with his mom.
While most of us consider a return to the nest a 'back-slide,' for Ross it just made perfect sense.
Over the last year, the debate over marriage equality expanded into the realm of sports, prompting athletes from both sides to chime in about the issue as well as LGBT rights in general. In response, the organization Athlete Ally was launched to being together athletes and others to voice their support.
Earlier this year, Nuggets star forward Kenneth Faried became the first NBA player to join the group; citing his own life story as a compelling example for others. Faried was raised in New Jersey by his two mothers, who married in 2007.
He's the ultimate mama's boy—honoring their love, while working to pay it forward for others like them.
The Baltimore Ravens' Michael Oher's story was made famous in the 2009 movie The Blind Side and the book it was based on. As a child in Memphis, Tenn., he bounced around from one foster home to another, before being taken in by Leigh Ann Tuohy and her family.
She became Oher's legal, adoptive parent, providing a loving, supportive home and encouraging him to use his physical talents to excel as a prep football star—helping Oher become the Super Bowl-winning pro he is today.
Tuohy has remained by his side from the beginning and also worked to foster a relationship between Oher and his biological mother.
During the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup run in 2009, star center Evgeni Malkin's parents emerged as celebrities in their own right among the Pens' faithful and hockey media.
They were a near-constant presence during the playoffs and Geno's mother Natalia's home-away-from-home cooking took on a playfully supernatural air:
Malkin told the Toronto Sun that was the key to his success: "Every time before a game, I get great cooking. Great Russian food."
Forward Lionel Messi is living the good life—he's inarguably the best footballer in the world, playing for one of the best clubs in La Liga. Off the pitch, he's one of the most famous athletes in the world and is the toast of the sport.
Of course, there is always a caveat; and this caveat goes by the name of Celia Cuccittini—Messi's mother. As in a 'caveat' that chases her son's lovers while wielding a frying pan.
NBA guard Josh Selby is the latest example of the absurd student-athlete charade created by the NCAA's 'one and done' rule. As a top-ten prep basketball star, Selby was heavily courted by most of the major programs—eventually picking the Kansas Jayhawks.
His single season was forgettable on the court and controversial off of it; the NCAA investigated his relationship with Carmelo Anthony's business manager and suspended Selby for nine games.
A key figure from his recruitment to his recent release by the Cleveland Cavaliers—his mother, Maeshon Witherspoon. She helped keep him off the streets and focus on his game.
AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli is one biggest stars of Serie A; his ascent and celebrity the result of an electrifying style of play...as well as headline-grabbing wacky hijinks (i.e. setting off fireworks in his bathroom).
Adding to the riddle-like nature of the man, is the woman who raised him since adopting him at age three.
Giants WR Victor Cruz has established himself as one of the top young receiving threats in the game today. Beyond the sure hands and big plays, He has made the most of the spotlight—creating his signature, beloved salsa dance end-zone celebration.
However, Cruz has made it clear that his celebrity—his success—are not his alone. His mother, Bianca, is a fixture on Cruz's Facebook page, a partner on the red carpet and the subject of his gratitude when discussing his career with the sports media.
Cruz's mama's-boy status was officially sanctioned when the two starred in the famous Campbell's Soup commercial series dedicated to the special bond.
The arc of time from Cam Newton's explosive debut as the Auburn Tigers' dominant, Heisman-winning QB, to BCS Champion QB, and then record-setting NFL rookie season is insanely short.
Newton often invokes his parents when talking about his ascent from Florida Gators castoff to his status as the new prototype of the NFL's dual-threat passer.
While father Cecil made headlines for his involvement in Newton's prep recruitment and path forward after his dismissal from the Gators, Newton's mother, Jackie, is the rock that embraces the star after every game.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is a big dude; a big dude who reliably catches passes from QB Tom Brady and moves much too quickly for someone who likely drinks whole milk out of a water bottle. The All-Star TE has emerged as one of the premier route-running tight ends in NFL and he's not the only 'Gronk' in the pros.
Yep, Rob is one of three brothers active in the NFL; and there's a fourth who managed not to start a pro football career. But, they're all kind of big and briskety and one pour soul was charged with feeding them—mother Diane.
Gronk never hesitates to thank his mother for being the caloric and emotional pillar of his family; whose epic grocery shopping and cafeteria-style cooking helped create the pro players he and brothers are today.
Thunder forward Kevin Durant is an NBA superstar who would be the unquestioned top player in the league if he lived in an alternate universe without LeBron James. At 24 and insanely talented and athletic, Durant has ample time to make a strong case for himself.
But since we're on the topic alternate universes—if this were a bizarro world of opposites, then Durant's mother Wanda Pratt, would be Spike Lee to his Reggie Miller.
But, instead of Pratt being a court-side nemesis engaging in back-and-forth smack talk, she's his consummate cheerleader in the stands and consoling mother in the tunnel.