Guess Who: Our Favorite Athletes as Children

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterSeptember 3, 2013

Guess Who: Our Favorite Athletes as Children

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    Sometimes it's hard to imagine, but before they became the big and bad professional athletes we know today, they were once adorable little kids and awkward teenagers—just like the rest of us.

    And just like us, some of them are more adorable and more awkward than others.

    So who was born with swag and who took quite awhile to develop it? Well, you're about to find out. Here are 33 of our favorite athletes today as children and/or surly teens!

Guess Who!

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    Before he was playing quarterback for one of the Bay Area NFL teams, it looks like this kid was actually a Brett Favre fan.

    So who is this this kid?

Colin Kaepernick

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    It's 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick!

    He led the Niners to a Super Bowl appearance in his first season as a starter and still has the same ridiculously happy smile he did as a child.

Guess Who!

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    This major leaguer played some soccer back in the day—before he decided he'd rather throw the ball than kick it.

    So who is this kid?

Cole Hamels

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    It's Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels!

    Obviously not as happy-go-lucky as he was in his youth. At least his hair has improved dramatically.

Guess Who!

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    It shouldn't be hard to identify this NBA big man from Germany, particularly in his draft-year photo.

    So who is this kid?

Dirk Nowitzki

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    It's Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki!

    We've answered one question here: Yes, Dirk has been tall and awkward most of his life.

Guess Who!

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    In the NFL this famed safety's hair has been long, longer and longest—of course that wasn't always the case. Looks like he didn't start growing it until college.

    So who is this kid?

Troy Polamalu

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    It's Steelers safety Troy Polamalu!

    It's hard to imagine Head & Shoulders even existed before Troy's luscious locks.

Guess Who!

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    If you don't recognize the face, surely you'll recognize the hair of this NBA player.

    So who is this kid?

Blake Griffin

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    It's Clippers power forward Blake Griffin!

    With that baby face and curly hair of his, there are few athletes more recognizable as their childhood selves than this guy.

Guess Who!

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    This Russian tennis goddess has been retired more than double the length of her professional career, but remains one of the most recognizable female athletes in the world.

    So who is this kid?

Anna Kournikova

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    It's the one and only Anna Kournikova!

    And I think it's safe to say that she's looking as good as ever.

Guess Who!

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    Long before he was a member of the Big Three, this baller turned the big 0-3.

    So who is this kid?

Chris Bosh

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    It's Heat big man Chris Bosh!

    Instead of growing out of his awkward stage...he grew into it.

Guess Who!

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    This footballer is known for a pouty stare that he clearly developed as a child. Although it's nice to see him looking...not sticky.

    So who is this kid?

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    It's Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo!

    Looking his usual vacant and sticky self.

Guess Who!

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    Hardly recognizable as a baby, this embattled major league slugger really grew into his looks by the time he reached high school.

    So who is this kid?

Alex Rodriguez

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    It's Yankees pariah Alex Rodriguez!

    Who is just finally starting to look his age, which is 38.

Guess Who!

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    This NFL quarterback looks exactly the same today as he did early in his high school years.

    So who is this kid?

Tony Romo

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    Duh. It's Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

    Even with a little bit of scruff, he's got a baby face that makes me wonder if he traded away all potential future football success for his very own fountain of youth.

    That would actually explain a lot.

Guess Who!

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    This full figured young man grew up to be on of the preeminent power hitters in MLB.

    So who is this kid?

Prince Fielder

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    It's Tigers slugger Prince Fielder!

    No more dogging this guy about his weight! He's actually pretty svelte compared to his childhood self.

Guess Who!

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    This two-time Heisman almost winner liked to kick the ball before he started slinging it.

    So who is this kid?

Andrew Luck

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    It's Colts quarterback Andrew Luck!

    It looked like he may have been weighing his sports options way back when—I think he made the right choice.

Guess Who!

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    The smile of this NBA big man is a dead giveaway, assuming you've seen the man smile. He's better known for a slightly less friendly expression.

    So who is this kid?

Kevin Garnett

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    It's Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett!

    His pearly whites are far less appealing when they look like they may be the last thing you see before KG swallows you whole.

Guess Who!

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    The life of this NFL quarterback has been spent decorating the world with his signature scowl.

    So who is this kid?

Jay Cutler

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    It's Bears quarterback Jay Cutler!

    He's bigger, richer and hairier these days, but not much else has changed for Jay.

Guess Who!

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    This NASCAR driver has been donning a jumpsuit since childhood.

    So who is this kid?

Jeff Gordon

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    It's NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon!

    It's nice to see he's found a happy medium with his hairstyle.

Guess Who!

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    It's hard to imagine a world in which this legendary NBA big man wasn't so big.

    So who is this kid?

Shaquille O'Neal

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    It's Superman himself, Shaquille O'Neal.

    One thing is certain—Shaq has always looked like a guy who is in a joke that everyone else isn't.

Guess Who!

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    Speaking of Superman, this guy has lost his superpowers and recently found himself unemployed in the NFL.

    So who is this kid?

Tim Tebow

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    It's recently released (former) Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow!

    He may not have a job, but obviously it doesn't have anything to do with a lack of conditioning. Check out the guns.

Guess Who!

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    I wonder if this young skateboarder ever thought he'd become a global celebrity and the star of his very own video game?

    So who is this kid?

Tony Hawk

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    It's skateboarder Tony Hawk!

    And he's still skating today and as popular as ever at the age of 45.

Guess Who!

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    It's hard to imagine anyone will have trouble identifying this Irish golf prodigy.

    So who is this kid?

Rory McIlroy

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    It's PGA star Rory McIlroy!

    Apparently he's still being brought to us by Nike! Some things never change.

Guess Who!

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    Before this race car driver was making jaws drop as a GoDaddy girl, back in high school she had a decidedly more wholesome look.

    So who is this kid?

Danica Patrick

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    It's NASCAR driver Danica Patrick!

    She is no longer the cheerleader—now she has plenty of people cheering for her instead.

Guess Who!

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    The talent and flair for fashion of this globally recognized soccer superstar predates the fame and fortune he'd have as an adult.

    So who is this kid?

David Beckham

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    It's English footballer David Beckham!

    Becks has polished his look over the years, but sometimes he still looks like an overgrown little boy when he's playing or promoting the sport he loves.

Guess Who!

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    You can see this three-time NBA champion had plenty of swag to spare, even back in grade school.

    So who is this kid?

Dwyane Wade

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    It's Heat superstar Dwyane Wade!

    Who remains too cool for school to this very day.

Guess Who!

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    This famed soccer star wasn't always so sour and disagreeable—she used to be downright adorable.

    So who is this kid?

Hope Solo

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    It's U.S. women's national soccer goalie Hope Solo!

    She may have lost her sunny disposition and friendly demeanor, but at least she didn't lose her talent.

Guess Who!

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    Two decades later, this major league star looks much the same as he did in high school. Except that hair of his.

    So who is this kid?

Derek Jeter

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    It's Yankees legend Derek Jeter!

    He's looking a bit older and wiser these days, but it's a look that works for him—unlike the haircut he had as a teenager.

Guess Who!

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    This American Olympian is still very at home in a swimming pool—maybe because he wins some gold every time he competes in one.

    So who is this kid?

Michael Phelps

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    It's Olympic record holder for the most medals in history, Michael Phelps!

    Who, between the beard and those giant glasses, has gone to great lengths to cover his face as much as humanly possible.

Guess Who!

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    From ice cream-loving little one to a bleached blonde teenager—today this Spanish NBA player is nearly unrecognizable from his younger years.

    So who is this kid?

Pau Gasol

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    It's Lakers big man and Kobe Bryant BFF, Pau Gasol!

    And boy, has he gone in a different direction with his look than he did as a teenager. This definitely suits him better than being a bottled blonde.

Guess Who!

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    The golf prodigy needs a much bigger room to hold all of his awards today. Luckily…he can afford one.

    So who is this kid?

Tiger Woods

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    It's the PGA's preeminent star, Tiger Woods!

    And that's about as close to a smile as you're gonna get from this guy anymore.

Guess Who!

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    Growing up in Russia this blonde beauty began playing tennis as soon as she was big enough to swing a racket.

    So who is this kid?

Maria Sharapova

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    It's Russian stunner Maria Sharapova!

    She's enjoyed immense success in tennis over the last decade and remains one of the highest paid female athletes in the world.

Guess Who!

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    This NBA star recently upgraded that high school hardware of his with a couple of NBA championship trophies.

    So who is this kid?

LeBron James

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    It's the biggest of the Heat's Big Three, LeBron James!

    And when I says he's the "biggest," I'm talking in terms of talent—not height!

Guess Who!

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    This hockey superstar honed his skills as a young boy in Canada, shooting pucks at an old dryer in his parents basement.

    So who is this kid?

Sidney Crosby

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    It's Penguins superstar center Sidney Crosby!

    And I think it's safe to say all that practice in the basement really paid off for Sid The Kid.

Guess Who!

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    You may think this guy grew up to be a soccer player, but he actually went on to play in the NBA.

    So who is this kid?

Steve Nash

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    It's rapidly aging Lakers point guard Steve Nash!

    Who is approaching the start of what will likely be the last season of his Hall of Fame career in the NBA.

Guess Who!

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    These two boys followed in the footsteps of their father, a famed NFL quarterback.

    So who are these kids?

Peyton & Eli Manning

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    They are Peyton and Eli Manning!

    Dad Archie won zero Super Bowls, older brother Peyton has one and Eli, the youngest, has two.

    Poor Cooper Manning…he didn't play in the NFL and I cut him out of both childhood photos.

Guess Who!

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    All the practice this lefty put in early, paid off later.

    So who is this kid?

Phil Mickelson

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    It's PGA professional Phil Mickelson!

    And when I say his practice really paid off, I mean it—Mickelson is the seventh highest-paid athlete in the world today.

Guess Who!

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    Ok…so his high school yearbook photo gives this one a way, but that doesn't make this NFL quarterback's transformation any less awe-inspiring.

    So who is this kid?

Tom Brady

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    It's three-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, quarterback of the Patriots!

    Jeez Louise the years have been good to Brady. He's richer than ever, better looking than ever, and he's married to one of the most beautiful women in the world.

    That kid with the baseball bat would be so friggin proud.

Guess Who!

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    If that's not the most easily recognized face in the NHL, I don't know what is.

    So who is this kid?

Alex Ovechkin

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    It's Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin!

    It's stunning how little those features have changed in 27-years. And, let's be honest, a little disappointing.

Guess Who!

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    He sported some baby fat for awhile in his youth, but today this NBA player is long and lean.

    So who is this kid?

Paul Pierce

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    It's newly acquired Nets forward Paul Pierce!

    And I like to think he's making that pained face after having seen way too many awkward childhood photos. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Guess Who!

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    If you think this NFL player was sorry for partying, even back then, you are sorely mistaken.

    So who is this kid?

Rob Gronkowski

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    It's Patriots superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski!

    Proving that some things never change.


    **Speaking of never being sorry for partying! You should follow me on Twitter because Gronk would want it that way: