Athletes Who Got Too Famous, Too Fast

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistApril 7, 2014

Athletes Who Got Too Famous, Too Fast

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    Alex Gallardo

    While sports are great, the one thing that can be a bit annoying is hearing about "the next big thing" every single year.

    Now I'm not doubting that some of these athletes have talent and may grow into stars—like the LeBron James and Sidney Crosbys of the world—but the odds are low that all of them will.

    Who knows how these guys' careers will turn out, but one thing's for sure—they got too big, too fast.

Sergio Garcia

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Remember when Sergio Garcia was supposed to be the consistent challenger to Tiger Woods' throne?

    Yeah, it didn't really work out for him.

    Sure, Sergio has won 20 international tourneys since turning pro at age 19, but he's never won himself a major title, which he was supposed to knock off his resume a long time ago.

Hideo Nomo

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    Bet you didn't think you'd see a Hideo Nomo slide on here, did you?

    While the former pitcher was a sensation when he first made his debut for the L.A. Dodgers in 1995, winning the Rookie of the Year, earning his lone All-Star appearance and finishing fourth in the N.L. Cy Young voting, he dropped off quickly after.

    His sophomore year earned him 16 wins and another top-five Cy Young finish, but he wasn't nearly as dominant the rest of his career—though he did have a few no-hitters that kept him relevant.

    Nomo was the first transplant of Japanese players and deserved the early hype, but his fame fell off after inconsistency.

Michelle Wie

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    For all intents and purposes, the LPGA wanted Michelle Wie to become the Tiger Woods of the women's game.

    Too bad she has failed to even come close to those expectations.

    While she's still just 24 years old—giving her the chance to resurrect her career—she is still searching for her first major title and, in reality, just needs to win a few more tourneys, as she only has two total in her career.

    She got huge deals from both Nike and Sony early on, and the return on the investment just hasn't been there.

    At 10, Wie became the youngest golfer to ever qualify for the USGA Amateur Championship, but there hasn't been much to report recently.

Tyreke Evans

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    Reinhold Matay

    In fairness, Tyreke Evans was in a tough position from the beginning of his collegiate career.

    Coming in with high regard thanks to a 5-star rating and being a top-five recruit, Tyreke was looking to fill the shoes of departed point guard Derrick Rose at Memphis.

    Averaging 17 points per game under the guidance of then-coach John Calipari, Evans took his game to the NBA and promptly won the Rookie of the Year award, instantly showing skills that could make him a star.

    Since then, though, Tyreke has been traded out of a bad situation in Sacramento, and, though he can score, he hasn't had the impact many thought he would when he was being compared to players like Tracy McGrady as a teenager.

Alex Ovechkin

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    Don't get me wrong; based off of his stats, Ovie is an absolute star and one of the top players in the NHL, but can anyone truly say he's a winner?

    With comparisons to Mario Lemieux as a teen, the Russian was on every team's radar, ultimately being drafted No. 1 overall by the Washington Capitals in 2004.

    While Ovechkin has proven he can score and put up individual honors, he hasn't even made the Stanley Cup once and has recently been tabbed as a quitter.

    Until he leads his team to a title, Ovechkin will be nothing more than just a great player.

Vince Young

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    John Russell

    Think back to all of the college football players since 2000 who have redefined a position.

    When landing on quarterback, there might not be anyone who changed the game quite like Vince Young, proving to be both a headache for defenses and a winner for his Texas Longhorns.

    It's that dynamic style of play that earned Young a ton of different accolades and a top-three pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2006 draft.

    After winning the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year award, nothing good has seemed to happen to VY since.

    Enjoying a few Pro Bowls, he's currently out of the league and failed to live up to expectations—save for his first year.

Sebastian Telfair

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    When a high school kid lands on the cover of Sports Illustratedas Sebastian Telfair did in 2004—the hope is that he'll become a star.

    While it happened in the case of LeBron James, the fortunes weren't as great for Telfair.

    Foregoing college and choosing the Association instead—where he was drafted 13th overall by the Portland Trail Blazers—the point guard has found the perfect storm of bad systems and a self-entitlement that has hurt him getting minutes.

    Playing for seven teams in his nine seasons, Telfair currently plays in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions.

    That's a far cry from the projected NBA All-Star many saw him to be.

Ryan Howard

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    It wasn't like Ryan Howard was hyped up to be some star from his high school or college days, but after finding himself in the majors at 24, he instantly proved to be such.

    Winning Rookie of the Year in 2005 and the NL MVP the following year, from 2006-2009, Howard didn't hit fewer than 45 homers in a season.

    But, due to some injuries and bad luck, he hasn't had a good season since 2011 and hasn't regained the power or struck the same fear on pitchers since, hitting just 26 total bombs since 2012.

Tim Tebow

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    Rogelio V. Solis

    Was former NFL quarterback really worthy of a first-round selection when drafted No. 25 overall in 2010? Absolutely not.

    But thanks to two national titles, a Heisman Trophy and the prestige that followed him since being a teenager, the Denver Broncos just couldn't help themselves.

    Tebow may have earned front pages and ESPN specials, but after flaming out as a quarterback, he has shown that he's just more of a leader in other areas of life—and not football—which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Andrew Wiggins

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    As expected, phenom Andrew Wiggins announced last week that he was tossing his name into the NBA draft—and should be a top-three pick.

    But the fact that he's not the consensus No. 1 overall pick is why he finds himself on this list.

    Over the past few years, this kid has been compared to numerous star ballers and carried the torch as the next LeBron James.

    Time will tell what his pro career ends up becoming, but after an up-and-down season that ended with a third-round loss at Kansas, there are question marks about his game—and certainly regrets by some of the news he garnered.

Freddy Adu

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    Arguably the most disappointing athlete on this list, soccer player Freddy Adu was supposed to be the savior of American soccer.

    Signing as a 14-year-old with MLS' D.C. United in 2004, Adu may have won an MLS Cup his first season, but since then, he's had to try to prove himself.

    Though he's now 24, Freddy has a chance to revive his career, but his hope of earning a spot on the U.S. World Cup squad this year is but a pipe dream—one would imagine.

    I want to root for Freddy, but he has to forgot about his past fame and start earning his stripes.

Yasiel Puig

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    Lenny Ignelzi

    Sure, L.A. Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is a freak of nature, displaying speed, power and athleticism not seen in baseball since Bo Jackson.

    But all of that early success has definitely gone to his head a bit.

    Whether it's missing the team's home opener last week—though apologetic—being questioned by his manager or just living life like a rock star, Puig has loved every bit of the spotlight he has been in since last year.

    I personally think he'll continue to play well and make a ton of All-Star games, but don't think that it won't be without controversy and headaches—just as Manny Ramirez used to do.

Sidney Crosby

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    Unlike the aforementioned Alex Ovechkin, this isn't a knock on Sidney Crosby in the least bit, because Crosby has won both individual and team awards since entering the NHL back in 2005.

    But this list isn't just for people who are overrated or have disappointed, but for those athletes who got a ton of popularity at an early age—and Sid definitely did that.

    Looked at as the next Wayne Gretzky from the time he was in juniors, Sidney Crosby is both hated and loved for the fame he has been given over the past decade.

Johnny Manziel

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    Patric Schneider

    He's one of the most polarizing athletes on the planet already—and he's still waiting to find out what team he'll suit up for in the NFL.

    It's no secret that former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel has been everywhere and has been seen with nearly every famous person these past two years.

    And while he hasn't necessarily asked for any of the fame to comes his way, that doesn't mean there hasn't been "Johnny Football" overload.

    TV networks have given him his own camera during games, and analysts continue to give reasons on why he will or will not be a good NFL signal-caller.

    It's a bit much.

LeBron James

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    Was there really any question two-time NBA champ LeBron James would be No. 1 on this list?

    Of any athlete on the planet, there isn't one that sports fans know better than James thanks to the constant attention he has received since high school.

    From landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, to being drafted No. 1 by his hometown Cavs, to the way he left for the Miami Heat and subsequent success in winning his first rings, LeBron James is the founding father of popularity at a young age.