A Game of Their Own
Growing up with a sports-star dad might make a lot of kids want to grow up to be like their old man. But these athletes didn't follow in the footsteps of their famous fathers. The children of Ken Griffey, Jr., Yannick Noah, and Wayne Gretzky chose to make their name in different sports.
The Kid's Kids
Slugger Ken Griffey Jr. followed in the footsteps of his father, Ken Sr., and became a major league baseball player. But Junior's oldest children, Trey and Taryn, both decided to try their hands at sports that didn't involve bats. "I just didn't have the same love for baseball [that I do for football]," says Trey, who gave up baseball when he was about 11 and is now a wide receiver at Arizona. In the fall, Taryn will join him at Arizona as a guard on the Wildcats' women's basketball team. (Their younger brother, Tevin, is still a multi-sport athlete who hasn't ruled out a future in baseball.)
Seeing his kids head down a different path is fine with Junior. "It doesn't matter what sport you play as long as you're happy," he's fond of telling them. He breaks down film with Trey, and most of what he's taught them applies to baseball, football, and basketball alike. "I learned a lot from seeing him play," Trey says. "You have to be positive. If you make a mistake, brush it off."
King of a Different Court
Joakim Noah, who stands 6′ 11″, has the perfect body for basketball. For tennis, though, it's not so great, which explains why he never took up the sport his father, 1983 French Open champ Yannick Noah, excelled at. Yannick says that when Joakim has a racket in his hand, "it looks like he's holding a fork! It's really funny."
Tennis's loss was basketball's gain. The Bulls center and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year had shown an aptitude for team sports early, and his basketball-loving father supported his burgeoning interest in the game. Father bought son stacks and stacks of basketball cards, which Joakim would take to Knicks games at Madison Square Garden to get signed. Yannick also passed along his own most important quality as a player: his work ethic.
They used to play one-on-one basketball all the time, Yannick refusing to let his son win, until suddenly when Joakim was 12 or 13, the result changed. "Once I beat him, he could never beat me again," Joakim says with a laugh. "We didn't stop playing, but it was over."
Son of the Great One
It might seem strange that the son of hockey's greatest player, a man who had his number 99 retired by every team in the league for his contributions to the sport, chose to focus on baseball. But when Trevor Gretzky did just that, his father, Wayne, wasn't surprised at all. "As a kid, [baseball] might have been my first love," he says of the sport his son Trevor, 21, chose. "Was I pro material? Probably not. But I loved playing."
That's what it came down to for Trevor as well. Growing up in California, he didn't spend much time on hockey — the nearest rink was an hour away — and he can barely skate. ("He spends most of his time at goalie" in pickup games, Wayne jokes.) Trevor also played football in high school, and now he's an outfielder in the Los Angeles Angels system. He currently wears number 3, but he's honored his dad in the past by wearing 9, 19, and 29. Would he ever consider taking his dad's number? "It's always been in the back of my head," Trevor says. "But my goal right now is to get to the big leagues and to make it to the World Series."
Photos: PETER READ MILLER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (KEN GRIFFEY JR.), JOSHUA C. CRUEY/ORLANDO SENTINEL (TARYN GRIFFEY), WILY LOW/AP (TREY GRIFFEY), STEVE POWELL FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (YANNICK NOAH), DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (JOAKIM NOAH), BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES (WAYNE GRETZKY), JASON WISE FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (TREVOR GRETZKY)