Mother's Day is a special time when we sit back and reflect on the women who brought us into this world. The sports world is no different, as most athletes have great things to say about their mothers and often thank them graciously during post-game celebrations.
But there are some athletes who take their love a little bit too far, who can't live without the constant approval of their mothers, and that earns them the dubious designation of "Momma's Boy."
Here's a look at the 20 biggest Momma's Boys in sports.
Shaq is one of the most dominant athletes in the history of sports, but he couldn't have done it without his mom, Lucille Harrison.
If you close your eyes and think about Shaq's mom, chances are her face will pop into your head. That means that she's on camera enough to have made a lasting image in your head. That's a sure sign that an athlete is a Momma's Boy.
It's amazing that any human being could give birth to a man as gigantic as Shaq, but Lucille managed. Most people think she's a giant herself, but she stands at nearly six feet tall, which is definitely above average, but certainly not freakish.
Shaq is definitely a Momma's Boy who will do anything for Lucille...well, almost anything.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is clearly a hit with the ladies, but there's one lady in particular that loves him more than anyone else.
When asked who was his No. 1 fan, Sanchez didn't hesitate when he said it was his mother, Olga Macias.
Macias can hardly contain herself when she talks about her son, telling the NY Daily News:
"It is just hard to explain. It has all panned out. To see it all happen, wow, there are no words. I don't know what to say, I want to cry."
Sanchez may be a pretty boy in New York City, but he'll always be a Momma's Boy at heart.
Photo from nydailynews.com
Dwight Howard is a beast of a man who plays for the Orlando Magic. He's an MVP candidate this year and has already taken home his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year trophy, but he didn't do it all on his own.
Howard credits his mother, Sheryl, for a lot of his skills on the court. Sheryl played for the first women's basketball team at Morris Brown College in 1974-75 and says she emphasized defense to her son from an early age.
Unfortunately for Howard, who led the league with 18 technical fouls, he says he also picked up something else from his mother:
"My mom is emotional. I think the reason I get a lot of techs is because of my mom."
The fans of Philadelphia have a love-hate relationship with Jimmy Rollins. The shortstop could do no wrong when he was named NL MVP in 2007, but was being booed as soon as the very next season after calling Phillies fans "front-runners."
No matter how you feel about him, you have to admit he has talent, and it comes from an unexpected place.
According to a story in ESPN: The Magazine, Jimmy Rollins credits his success in baseball to his mother, Gigi. She was a competitive fast-pitch softball player and Jimmy said when he was just seven years old the two would talk strategy about the game.
Getting your sports talent from your mother absolutely qualifies you as a Momma's Boy.
Jonathan Toews is a star for the Chicago Blackhawks who led his team to the 2010 Stanley Cup. In 2008 he became the youngest captain in the NHL, and who do you think helped him deal with the pressure?
That's right, his mom.
Toews has lived with his mother Andree Gilbert in Winnipeg during the off-season, and looks out for her at all times. He even told her not to wear her his jersey during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year in Philadelphia.
But Andree said it was good luck and decided to wear the jersey anyway. Of course the Hawks won the game, thereby winning the Stanley Cup, and the celebration on the ice ensued. But Toews got worried when he couldn't find his mother.
It turns out that Andree and the rest of the family were being escorted by security from the stands so it took a little longer, but the fact that in the moments immediately after winning hockey's ultimate prize Toews was thinking about his mother proves that he's a true Momma's Boy.
Photo from chicagotribune.com
Michael Phelps got into a lot of trouble in 2009 when some images surfaced of him doing his best Snoop Dogg impression.
The swimmer who famously won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics had a lot of explaining to do, but the hardest part was having to talk to his disappointed mother, Debbie.
Phelps had already used his proverbial "get out of jail free card" when he was arrested for DUI at the age of 19, so that made it even more difficult to talk about the bong situation with his mother, as he told the Baltimore Sun:
"Seeing my mom reminded me of how it was the day after I got my DUI, and I swore to myself I'd never do that again"
She definitely gave him the dreaded, "I'm not upset...I'm just disappointed" look.
Most people who have achieved the success that Phelps has would say, "alright I messed up, get over it," but not a Momma's Boy.
The Mannings are quite a football family. Peyton and Eli are both NFL quarterbacks and so was their father, Archie.
The one who often gets left out is the matriarch of the family, Olivia Manning. One person who's always sure to include her is Eli, the quieter baby brother compared to the outspoken Peyton.
If you ever doubt that Eli is a Momma's Boy just ask yourself one question: what kind of athlete brings his mother with him to a television interview?
I rest my case.
Hines Ward is a two-time Super Bowl champion receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers known for his work ethic and hard-nosed play.
Standing at only six feet tall, he doesn't have the size of a prototypical wide receiver, yet he has still managed to make the Pro Bowl four times and even won the Super Bowl MVP in 2006.
When the L.A. Times asked him where he gets his motivation from, Hines had only one answer: his mother, Kim Young-Hee.
"My mom is the reason why I'm here today. All the values that she instilled in me, that's who my mom is: a hard worker, nothing ever given to her, worked her tail off. I am here today because of my mom."
Only a Momma's Boy would let his mother talk him into wearing this outfit.
While Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter receives mostly praise from the New York press, occasionally they come after him with rumors and allegations.
In 2007 Jeter was accused of sidestepping his New York state taxes by declaring that he lived in Florida. Jeter couldn't even say two words before his mother, Dorothy, came to his aid in the New York Daily News:
"My boy does everything right—EVERYTHING right. He's paid taxes in New York for every doggone day he's been there!"
Only a mother would be deluded enough to think her baby boy never makes mistakes, but that's what makes Derek Jeter such a Momma's Boy.
LeBron James is often praised for his maturity and grounded nature (well, at least he was before "The Decision") and credit is often attributed to the people with which he surrounds himself.
Often times a superstar athlete's entourage can be his demise, but James' seems to serve to help keep him sane amid the media frenzy. First and foremost in his entourage is his mother, Gloria.
You know you're a Momma's Boy when your mother comes out of her seat to defend you in the middle of a game.
Okay, so he may not have the cleanest of records, but Albert Haynesworth is one of the best defensive players in the NFL when he has his head screwed on correctly.
Albert has always had problems with authority, and his mother, Linda, says that she used to wake him up at 6 a.m. and run a few laps around the house with him when he was a boy. After tiring out in the morning, Albert could more easily sit through classes.
After Haynesworth infamously stomped on the helmetless head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006, he seemed to straightened out his anger issues with the help of his mother.
Albert says of his mom, "When I think back about it, yeah, she was a tough parent, but she had to be tough. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here where I am today."
If only Linda could accompany her son when he goes clubbing, he might be able to stay out of trouble altogether.
When Tiger went from being the best golfer in the world to the biggest disaster in the world in late 2009, a lot of his fans turned their backs on him.
Tiger's actions may have been unforgivable for most women, but his mother, Kultida, displayed that her love was truly unconditional.
One of the first things that Tiger did after his infamous statement was walk off the podium and give his mom a hearty embrace. When asked what she said to him after the hug, this is what she told ESPN:
"I said, 'I'm so proud of you. Never think you stand alone. Mom will always be there for you and I love you.'"
When Tiger felt he had nobody in the world to turn to, he turned to his mother. That makes him a Momma's Boy.
Once the poster-boy for international soccer, David Beckham brought his fame to the U.S. when he signed with the L.A. Galaxy of the MLS in 2007.
I'm not sure if he brought his mother, Sandra, but it seems as if part of her goes wherever he does.
Beckham told Sports Illustrated that he takes after his "mum," saying:
"My dad's sort of a man's man, but I've got more of my mum's personality. She's a lot softer, a lot more affectionate. We both get really emotional."
Given how much trash talking goes on in soccer, I'm not sure if admitting his "emotional" nature was the best idea, but it certainly proves that he is a Momma's Boy through and through.
After Floyd Mayweather, Jr. defeated Ricky Hatton in 2007, he decided that he'd had enough boxing. He said he'd lost his desire for the sport and decided to retire.
As we all know, Mayweather decided to return and has been an active fighter since his comeback fight in 2009 against Juan Manuel Marquez. Why the sudden change of heart?
Mayweather says it was his mother, Deborah, that sparked him to get back into boxing. On a trip to the Bahamas, Deborah said to Floyd, "everyone on the island keeps asking me when you're going to fight again."
The mother's guilt got to him, and Floyd couldn't stand the thought of his mom being embarrassed by not having an answer. So he decided to return to Las Vegas and begin sparring.
"Pretty Boy Floyd" should change his nickname to "Momma's Boy Floyd."
You often hear college players talking about all the things they're going to do for their mothers once they make it to the pros.
The sentiment took on more meaning for linebacker Aaron Curry during his sophomore season at Wake Forest, when his mother, Chris, was evicted from her home. Curry went on to have a good junior year and contemplated entering the NFL draft to financially assist his family.
But his mother would have none of it. She told him that the housing situation was temporary and that he should finish school.
It ended up working out pretty nicely for everyone as Aaron had a phenomenal senior season which dramatically improved his draft status. He was taken fourth overall by the Seahawks in 2009 and signed a contract that promised him $34 million of guaranteed money.
This is one instance where being a Momma's Boy literally paid off.
Sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. He has to attribute his speed to his mother's genes, but now she's taking on a new role in his life: his spokesperson.
Bolt's mother, Jennifer, announced in 2010 that her son "might change things around a bit and try something new" at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Usain had previously mentioned that he might want to branch out into events like the 400m and the long jump, so the media immediately connected the dots.
When you have your mom announce your future plans to the world, you know you're a Momma's Boy.
You'd think being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft would earn you some breathing room with your mother.
Breathing? Yes. Swearing? No.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford received a lesson from his mother, Margaret, after NFL Films microphones picked up the young man swearing during a game against the Browns.
Stafford apparently unleashed some unsavory language after injuring his left shoulder during a hard tackle. He eventually led his team to a comeback victory, but after the game his mother had other concerns, as she told the Detroit Free Press:
"What I didn't like about it was watching the tackle again and seeing him curled up in pain. And for the record, I might have said the same thing if I had been in his situation—but I'm still his mom and need to remind him to watch his language."
If that doesn't say "Momma's Boy", I don't know what does.
While Americans dominate a lot of sports, soccer is definitely not one of them. It's hard for an American player to earn enough respect to be asked to play in one of the prestigious European leagues, but that's exactly what happened to Landon Donovan.
Donovan signed a contract with Bayer Leverkusen in the highly competitive German Bundesliga, but after three months asked to be released from it. Why?
He missed his mother.
Donovan wanted to get home to see his mom, Donna Kenney-Cash, and the rest of his family so he left the opportunity of a lifetime to return to the L.A. Galaxy of the MLS.
This all happened in 2005, when Donovan was just 23 years old, but something tells me if he had to do it over again he'd do the same thing.
Once a Momma's Boy, always a Momma's Boy.
On the surface, Alexander Ovechkin is a monster of a hockey player. At 6'2" and 240 pounds, he's one of the most imposing offensive players in the NHL.
But on the inside, he's just a big ol' Momma's Boy.
Anyone who watched HBO's 24/7 about the Winter Classic found out that not only does Ovechkin love his mother, Tatyana, but he also lives with her.
That's right, the Washington Capitals star who makes $9 million a year lives with his mommy and she even still cuts his hair. His famous quote from the show was something like:
"I'm not married. Who else is going to clean and cook for me? I'm not going to do it myself."
Clinton Portis is one of the most colorful characters in the NFL, but before all that he was a Momma's Boy.
While in college at Miami, Portis called his mother every day and insisted that she wear his Big East championship ring.
But that all pales in comparison to what Portis did in high school. It could be the most "Momma's Boy" action possible.
Portis asked his mother, Rhonnel Hearn, to his senior prom. Naturally, she accepted.