All in the Family: 10 Best Active Sibling Sports Stars

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2017

All in the Family: 10 Best Active Sibling Sports Stars

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    Serena Williams defeated her sister, Venus, to capture her 23rd Grand Slam singles title.
    Serena Williams defeated her sister, Venus, to capture her 23rd Grand Slam singles title.Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    Siblings from all backgrounds and ages grow up competing. Some sports stars do it for a living.

    When growing up with brothers and sisters, they become a constant measuring stick through childhood. An older sibling (and proactive parents) can especially mold a child's interests and passions, so family members often gravitate toward the same craft.  

    Yet sports, fueled by unbiased data, doesn't lend well to nepotism. A famous surname, however, could occasionally open a door. 

    With apologies to the Manning brothers, this list focuses exclusively on active siblings. Most of the athletes mentioned hold their own weight, but a few are buoyed by a superstar distinguishing the family name. 

    There's also more than one path to inclusion. One pair of brothers impact the action off the field, and nobody from a certain trio has yet to turn pro. A common pattern in every case: It's easy to note resemblances in their style of play.

LaMelo, LiAngelo and Lonzo Ball

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    Lonzo Ball is expected to be a high-lottery NBA draft pick this year.
    Lonzo Ball is expected to be a high-lottery NBA draft pick this year.Leon Bennett/Getty Images

    Teenagers LaMelo, LiAngelo and Lonzo Ball are laying the foundation for a basketball dynasty.

    The oldest of the trio, 19-year-old Lonzo has dished out eight dimes per game for the 19-3 UCLA Bruins. In a January mock draft, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman pegged the freshman guard as his No. 2 pick.

    On Saturday, he watched LaMelo and LiAngelo lead Chino Hills (California) High School to its 58th-straight win with 33 and 32 points, respectively. LiAngelo, a senior committed to likely replace Lonzo at UCLA, scored 72 points one game after recording 56 earlier this season.

    LaMelo, a sophomore, committed to UCLA at age 13. It's easy to see why when he can hit a pull-up three from halfcourt like it was a layup.

    Don't expect any of them to get too comfortable in California. Lavar Ball has already declared that all three of his sons will go the one-and-done route. From what he told ESPN.com's Jeff Borzello, the confident father has instilled lofty aspirations into his kids.

    "We've got a plan, and everything's going accordingly," Lavar said. "They were born to go pro. I told them, 'Somebody has to be better than Michael Jordan. Why not you?'"

    Part of that plan includes a warp-speed pace perfect for the NBA. Yet he insisted to The Ringer's Danny Chau that they're not adapting to the currently popular style.

    “We play faster than the Golden State Warriors,” he said. “And my boys have been playing like this since they were little.”

    A decade from now, all three Ball brothers may be running and shooting circles around the NBA.

Stephen and Seth Curry

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    The sizzling Seth Curry is making a name for himself beyond "Stephen Curry's brother."
    The sizzling Seth Curry is making a name for himself beyond "Stephen Curry's brother."Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Seth Curry is not his brother. There are no back-to-back MVP runs in his future. It's probably safe to say he won't win one.

    The other S. Curry, however, is quietly developing into a valuable scorer for the Dallas Mavericks.

    After posting a career-high 24 points and 10 rebounds during Sunday's road upset over the San Antonio Spurs, the 26-year-old guard has averaged 13.7 points over 14 January games. More importantly, he has channeled Stephen's chief prowess by draining 32 of his 64 three-point attempts.

    Per Eddie Sefko of Dallas News, Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki praised his young teammate after their victory against the Spurs.

    "Seth was incredible," Nowitzki said. "I feel like every time he shoots a three, it's going in. It's been fun to watch. What I underestimated is he's really quick. He's a great driver and he's got a great float game. I'm happy for him."

    The day after upending the Spurs, Dallas beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since moving Curry to the starting lineup, it has won seven of its last 10 games. Given the Western Conference's ugly race for the No. 8 seed, Seth could feasibly meet Stephen's Warriors in the postseason's opening round.

Jim and John Harbaugh

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    John and Jim Harbaugh coached opposing teams in Super Bowl XLVII.
    John and Jim Harbaugh coached opposing teams in Super Bowl XLVII.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Four years ago, the Harbaugh family watched as two brothers battled in a bittersweet Super Bowl showdown.

    Super Bowl XLVII saw John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens defeat Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers. Even in triumph, the older sibling struggled with watching Jim fall short on the grand stage.

    "It's tough. It's very tough," John said after the 34-31 win, per an Associated Press report via ESPN.com. "It's a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be. It's very painful."

    In nine seasons as Baltimore's head coach, John has overseen six playoff appearances and a 59.0 regular-season winning percentage. Only five active head coaches have lasted longer with their current franchise.

    Yet outside of their major head-to-head meeting, Jim has enjoyed even more success. 

    Upon his hiring, the 49ers hadn't reached the playoffs in eight years. He promptly led them to three conference championship games. In three seasons since his departure, they're 15-33.

    San Francisco's loss is Michigan's gain. Upon his hiring, the Wolverines transformed back into a powerhouse overnight. They have netted consecutive 10-win campaigns with the short-fused, uncompromising coach running the program.

    For everyone else in the family, it's probably a relief knowing their professional paths won't cross again anytime soon.

Marc and Pau Gasol

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    The Gasol brothers will forever be linked by a 2008 trade which sent them separate ways.
    The Gasol brothers will forever be linked by a 2008 trade which sent them separate ways.Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    The Gasol brothers getting traded for one another could have caused some awkward family dinners. Fortunately, the deal worked perfectly for everyone involved.

    Struggling without Shaquille O'Neal, the Los Angeles Lakers found the perfect sidekick for Kobe Bryant. The efficient scorer and unselfish passer vaulted them to three straight NBA Finals appearances, two of which they won.

    The Memphis Grizzlies, meanwhile, didn't receive much of an immediate return in the widely panned trade. Even owner Michael Heisley criticized general manager Chris Wallace's move to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski in 2008. 

    “I don’t know if I got the most value,” Heisley confessed. “Maybe our people should’ve shopped (Gasol) more and maybe we would’ve gotten more, done a better deal. Maybe Chris did call every team in the league. I don’t think he did, but maybe he should’ve…”

    Remember this before prematurely ripping a risky transaction to shreds. A Grizzlies cornerstone, Marc recently earned his third NBA All-Star nod. Usually an underappreciated stud who excels everywhere without any overly gaudy stats, he has accrued a career-high 20.7 points per game this season.

    The move also cleared cap space, which helped them acquire Zach Randolph in 2009. Marc is now the family's top center, but Pau has a better shot of returning to the Finals with the Spurs if he recovers from a broken hand.

Arthur, Chandler and Jon Jones

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    Linebacker Chandler Jones is the younger brother to defensive tackle Arthur and UFC fighter Jon.
    Linebacker Chandler Jones is the younger brother to defensive tackle Arthur and UFC fighter Jon.Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Where does it say siblings need to play the same sport?

    Arthur and Chandler Jones both pursued NFL careers, and each has earned a Super Bowl ring. They're not quite the same player; Arthur stuffs the run as a defensive tackle while Chandler has compiled 47 sacks over five seasons.

    Jon, on the other hand, harnessed his aggression in the octagon. The prized fighter conquered UFC before a hit-and-run incident and failed drug test halted his reign atop the promotion.

    Given their chosen professions, it's no surprise the brothers often tussled as children. Arthur, the oldest among them, recalled their formative years to Yahoo Sports' Les Carpenter in 2012.

    "We fought over everything," Arthur said. "We fought over a piece of chalk, whether the light was on or off, if the TV was on or off. It was constant competition. I think we broke all the furniture in the house."

    They now all have lucrative jobs paying them to overpower others.

Corey and Kyle Seager

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    Corey upstaged his older brother, Kyle, by earning 2016 NL Rookie of the Year honors.
    Corey upstaged his older brother, Kyle, by earning 2016 NL Rookie of the Year honors.Harry How/Getty Images

    Kyle Seager has spent five seasons going criminally unnoticed as a rocksteady third baseman. In one year, younger brother Corey stole the spotlight.

    Kyle has gradually boosted his home run tally in each full season with the Seattle Mariners, rising from 20 in 2012 to 30 last season. He has played in at least 155 games every year. According to FanGraphs, he ranks fifth in WAR among third basemen from 2014-16 behind recognized studs Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre, Manny Machado and Kris Bryant. 

    For all his consistency, he has never enjoyed an MVP-caliber campaign. Corey, on the other hand, placed third on the 2016 National League MVP ballot following a thunderous rookie campaign. The 22-year-old has already participated in two postseasons, two more than his 29-year-old brother.

    Since joining the bigs, the Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop has batted .312/.374/.519 with 30 homers in 184 regular-season games. Despite initial concerns of him eventually following Kyle to the hot corner, he has displayed exceptional glovework up the middle.

    Corey plays a premium position in a larger market, and he's validating his place atop most 2016 prospect rankings. Kyle will never garner the same buzz among casual baseball observers, but the Seager family currently boasts two All-Star infielders.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin

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    Daniel and Henrik Sedin have played together since the Vancouver Canucks drafted them back-to-back in 1999.
    Daniel and Henrik Sedin have played together since the Vancouver Canucks drafted them back-to-back in 1999.Rich Lam/Getty Images

    The only twins on the list, Henrik and Daniel Sedin have spent their entire careers side by side on the Vancouver Canucks. 

    Connected right from the start, the Canucks drafted the Swedish twins with the second and third picks of 1999's NHL draft. Even if general manager Brian Burke maneuvered to select both, Daniel can always say he got picked before his brother.

    Vancouver has never secured the Stanley Cup, but it has reached 11 postseasons behind the Sedin brothers. The duo plays perfectly off one another, as embodied by Henrik's 1,000th point, a goal assisted by Daniel.

    According to Hockey-Reference.com, Henrik and Daniel rank seventh and ninth, respectively, in career points among all active players.

    Although the 36-year-old twins are no longer in their primes, they remain two of the team's top contributors. They have each tallied 11 goals this season, and Henrik leads the squad with 21 assists.

    If the brothers retire together, they should enter the Hall of Fame together.

Melvin Jr. and Justin Upton

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    The Upton brothers, Melvin Jr. and Justin, have played together on two separate teams.
    The Upton brothers, Melvin Jr. and Justin, have played together on two separate teams.Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    The Upton family should be grateful that both Justin and Melvin Upton Jr. chose baseball.

    Both Upton brothers entered the majors with immense hype. In 2004, Baseball America ranked Melvin—then referred to as B.J. for Bossman Junior—its No. 2 prospect behind Joe Mauer. Two years later, Justin Upton occupied the same spot between disappointments Delmon Young, Brandon Wood and Jeremy Hermida.

    Neither outfielder has truly met his five-star ceiling, but they're far from busts.

    Melvin looked the part early in his career. From 2007-12, he was the only player to collect over 100 home runs and 200 stolen bases. Before the 2013 season, he signed a five-year, $75.25 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, who traded for Justin two months later. 

    Envisioned as the next Ken Griffey Jr. early in his career, Justin never lived up to the billing. He has simply belted 26-31 home runs in each of the past four years while sporting an .819 career OPS. Wild expectations aside, he still developed into a slugger who commanded a $132.7 million contract last offseason.

    They have both experienced contact woes due to inflated strikeout rates, but MLB teams will pay a premium for power, speed and plate discipline. Along with netting huge earnings, they briefly reunited on the San Diego Padres in 2015.

J.J., Derek and T.J. Watt

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    T.J. Watt took after his superstar brother, J.J., by recording 11.5 sacks in his junior year with Wisconsin.
    T.J. Watt took after his superstar brother, J.J., by recording 11.5 sacks in his junior year with Wisconsin.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    J.J. Watt needs no introduction. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has twice submitted 20.5-sack seasons for the Houston Texans. When he's healthy—he suffered a season-ending back injury in September—there's no scarier defender on the planet.

    Ever feel pressured to match an older sibling with straight A's? Imagine how T.J. and Derek Watt must feel.

    Following in his dominant brother's footsteps, T.J. wreaked havoc as a Wisconsin Badgers pass-rusher. After accumulating 11.5 sacks during his junior year, the linebacker declared for the 2017 NFL draft. As he told MMQB's Emily Kaplan, his similarities to J.J. extend beyond pulverizing quarterbacks for the same school.

    “It’s like we share the same brain,” T.J. said.

    Although also listed at 6'5" on NFL.com, he's nearly 50 pounds lighter than his hulking brother. Yet he's plenty strong for a normal human's standards.

    Middle child Derek Watt broke away from family norms and instead plays fullback for the Los Angeles Chargers, who drafted him in the sixth round last year. Football clearly runs in the Watt family.

Serena and Venus Williams

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    To make history, Serena Williams needed to defeat her own flesh and blood.

    A Hollywood-ready plot unfolded in Melbourne this year, where the Williams sisters met for the Australian Open crown. By beating Venus, Serena captured an Open era-record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

    On her path to cementing G.O.A.T status, Serena made an intense rivalry a one-sided feud. She has won seven of her last nine matchups against Venus, and she hasn't lost to her in a major since the 2008 Wimbledon final.

    Don't discredit Venus because of Serena's historic accomplishments. Before her sister ascended to tennis' iron throne, she captured five Wimbledon titles and two U.S. Open crowns from 2000 to 2008. Serena needed to overcome her sibling to establish her own greatness, winning four Grand Slam final showdowns in 2002 and 2003.

    If all else fails, Venus can say the two have won a combined 30 titles.

    Serena may play along.  She expressed her gratitude to her sibling, per John Pye of the Associated Press, after breaking the tie with Steffi Graf.

    "This was a tough one—I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus," Serena said. "She's an amazing person. There's no way I'd be at 23 without her. She's my inspiration and the only reason I'm standing here today. Thanks for inspiring me to be the best player I can be."