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Alex Ovechkin, a two-time NHL MVP with 359 career goals, learned to aim for perfection thanks to his mother, Tatiana.

A basketball legend in Russia, Tatiana was a point guard and the leader of the Soviet Union national teams that won Olympic gold medals in 1976 and '80, a 1975 world championship, and six European titles. As a little kid, Alex went to her practices and watched her games. "My mom knows everything about basketball and all sports," he says. "She's tough, and she is smart. As a leader, she knows what every player needs to have success."

Now 63, Tatiana is president of the Moscow Dynamo women's basketball team, and even though she's far away, Alex calls her daily for advice. ("Every decision I make, I talk to my mom first," he says.) He also wears number 8, just as she did.

Text: Julia Morrill
Photo: SIMON BRUTY/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

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