Athletes Who Named Their Kids After Themselves

A common trend for die-hard sports fans is to name their children after some of the most famous athletes in the world. For example, some fans of the University of Tennessee Volunteers named their kids Peyton after alumnus and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, according to The New York Times. Sports analyst Jalen Rose was a standout freshman basketball player at the University of Michigan who helped lead the school to back-to-back NCAA Championship appearances in 1992 and 1993. The name wasn't common then but decades later, athletes like Jalen Mayfield, Jaylen Waddle, and Jaelan Phillips were playing in the NFL and NBA. "I always say that the name Jalen's a superpower," Rose told ESPN. "Because, if you're seeing this level of Jalens when you're watching college basketball and football, pro basketball and football, that's a small percentage of the society that actually carry the name," he added. The former basketball star also said he believed parents naming their kids after him was partly due to his wins as an athlete but in his opinion, it spoke more to his character. "If people don't rock with you or they don't like you, you know the last thing they're gonna do is name their kid after you," Rose said.

On the flip side, professional athletes likely don't name their children after their fans. Instead, perhaps showing a bit of narcissism or hoping to continue a legacy, these are the athletes who named their kids after themselves.

Shaquille O'Neal recognized a confusion

During his time in the NBA, Shaquille O'Neal was one of the most-feared big men in the game. With his huge wingspan and even larger shoe size, the 7-foot-tall O'Neal played alongside the late Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers. In his personal life, O'Neal has six children. Two sons (Shareef and Shaqir) and two daughters (Amirah and Me'arah) are from his marriage to Shaunie O'Neal. The basketball star also dated Arnetta Yardbourgh and the two had a daughter (Taahirah) together. O'Neal also co-parented Shaunie's son Myles, People recapped. "I'm gonna always protect, provide, and love," he said about his children on "The Pivot Podcast." O'Neal also explained that he left it up to his children to decide whether or not they wanted to follow in his footsteps. "We don't need another basketball player in this family," he said. 

Shaqir proved his dad wrong when he started his first college basketball game in 2022 as a member of the Texas Southern University Tigers. Surprisingly, the Authentic Brands Group, which owns registrations to the name Shaquille O'Neal and his nickname Shaq, filed a notice of opposition against Shaqir. According to documents, the opposition came following Shaqir registering his name and likeness with Mine O Mine. ABG believed it would be "'confusingly similar' to trademarks it owns for Shaq," trademark attorney Josh Gerben tweeted.

LeBron James regretted his naming choice

As one of the greatest athletes to ever play in the NBA, LeBron James certainly earned the nickname King James. Like real royalty in the past, James then decided to pass along his name to his son. With his wife Savannah, James has three children — the oldest son LeBron James Jr., middle child Bryce Maximus, and daughter Zhuri Nova. Both Bronny, the nickname for his oldest, and Bryce followed in their father's career path to play basketball. In 2022, Bronny started his senior season in high school at Sierra Canyon School. "I know [there's] a lot of pressure on them," James told Sports Illustrated. Still, Bronny was creating his own path to fame, including with new generation platforms like virtual gaming. For example, he signed with FaZe Clan alongside established professional athletes like quarterback Kyler Murray.

Still, it could be confusing to some over the last names. During a segment on "The Shop" (via Uninterrupted), comedian Jon Stewart asked James how he relayed to his kids that they didn't need to also be world-class athletes. "I still regret giving my 14-year-old my name because of that," James said, via Uninterrupted. The basketball star explained that not having a father around while growing up made him first think of passing along his name. "Not only is he going to be a junior but I'm going to do everything that this man didn't do. They're gonna experience things that I didn't experience," James added.

George Foreman is an expert in repetition

At the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, a relative newcomer stormed his way through the boxing competition. George Foreman, an American, surprised even himself when he earned the gold medal thanks to his punishing blows in the ring. "The left jab was my number one punch — I still think it was the best punch in boxing," he told the BBC. In perhaps his most famous fight, called the "Rumble in the Jungle," Foreman went up and lost against the legendary Muhammad Ali in Kinshasa, a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fortunately, Foreman's career wasn't over and he even became a famous entrepreneur with his George Foreman Grill.

To keep his famous name going, Foreman named all five of his sons George Edward Foreman. The boxer wrote on his website that he repeated the name "so they would always have something in common." He added, "I say to them, 'If one of us goes up, then we all go up together. And if one goes down, we all go down together!'" Foreman also joked about the brutality of boxing as a factor in the naming. He said to (via People), "I tell people, 'If you're going to get hit as many times as I've been hit by Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Evander Holyfield, you're not going to remember many names.'"

Iman Shumpert passed along his original name

Basketball player Iman Shumpert reached the NBA Finals in 2016 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Alongside his teammate LeBron James, Shumpert and the Cavs took home the trophy after the thrilling final moments in the decisive Game 7 of the series. Outside of basketball, Shumpert appeared as a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" and won in 2021, The Washington Post recapped. He is also married to singer and model Teyana Taylor. With two celebrities in the household, the couple decided to name their daughter after the father. "I couldn't be more happy than to share my first child with the woman I intended to have my family with. Iman Taylor Shumpert Jr," the basketball player posted on Instagram.

In the 2016 music video for the Kanye West song "Fade," Shumpert appears in the final moments alongside his wife. Their newborn Junie also makes a brief appearance on camera surrounded by farm animals. "Junie is just so fearless; she's playing with the sheep," Taylor recalled to Vogue about shooting the family scene.

Karl Malone remixed his name

Big man Karl Malone famously played for the Utah Jazz and was part of a formidable duo with John Stockton. He went by the nickname "The Mailman" for his ability to always deliver in big situations. His legendary performances easily earned him a place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He retired as one of the NBA's all-time leading scorers with nearly 37,000 points in his career. Outside of basketball, Malone fathered seven children — three of whom (NFL player Demetrius Bell and fraternal twins Daryl and Cheryl Ford) were outside his marriage to his wife Kay, via ESPN. Cheryl Ford followed in her father's footsteps and played professional basketball for the WNBA's Detroit Shock.

For the four children Malone had with Kay, the couple stuck with the theme and named them Kadee, Karlee, Kylee, and Karl Jr., who goes by KJ. Malone appeared to stay close with his daughter and was there for her 2022 wedding. Showing his soft side, Malone appears to be in tears as he sees Karlee on her wedding day in a video shared by Pubity.

Manny Pacquiao wouldn't lose his name without a fight

Boxer Manny Pacquiao was a small but mighty opponent in the ring. Hailing from the Philippines, Pacquiao started his career in 1995, when he was just 16 years old. At the time, he was merely 106 pounds but showed he could deliver punches against the best. By the time he retired in 2021, Pacquiao was the only boxer to ever win titles in eight different weight divisions, per CBS. The boxer then turned into a politician. In 2016, Pacquiao earned enough votes to be elected as a senator of the Philippines, NPR reported. He did all this as a family man too, the father of five children with his wife Jinkee Jamora. The couple has three sons named Emmanuel Jr., Michael Stephen, and Israel. Their two daughters are named Mary Divine Grace and Queen Elizabeth, who goes by Queenie, Essentially Sports recapped.

Trying to keep the Pacquiao name feared in the boxing ring, Emmanuel Jr. picked up boxing just like his father. Starting in 2022, he began fighting in amateur bouts and won his first fight against Andres Rosales, as seen in a video by FightHype. "Congratulations to my son on fighting and winning his first U.S. amateur fight at junior welterweight! I'm so proud of you," the senior Pacquiao wrote on Instagram. The younger Pacquiao continued that year by participating in more amateur fights near Hollywood. His dad posted on Instagram in preparation for the fights, "Here comes Manny Jr!"

Allen Iverson's offspring had a different name idea

With his signature hairstyle and lightning-quick moves on the basketball court, NBA star Allen Iverson was a superstar during the height of his career. Sometimes referred to as "The Answer," Iverson also had a successful shoe deal with Reebok with iconic shoe models like the Question Low, the Question Mid, and the Answer. Starting a family, Iverson and Tawanna Turner had five children together, including their daughters Tiaura, Messiah, and Dream Alijha. As a basketball player, Iverson also earned the moniker AI3 for his initials and jersey number. Plus, his one son is AI2, that is, Allen Iverson II. Turner and Iverson also had another boy named Isaiah Rahsaan, Players Bio recapped. 

Allen Iverson II started playing basketball and appeared to have exceptional abilities just like his father and could be a future NBA star, according to Sportskeeda. Yet, don't look out for the name Iverson. His son started going by the name Jordan Lowery, perhaps in an effort to make his own name.

Deion Sanders and his big family

A legend in the NFL for his work with multiple teams, Deion Sanders was one of the most electrifying cornerbacks to ever play in the league. Not only was he a force on defense, Sanders was also a threat on special teams as a kickoff and punt returner. After playing 14 seasons in the NFL, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Showing his tremendous athletic abilities, Sanders also played professional baseball for nine seasons in MLB, some with the New York Yankees.

Beyond Sanders' professional career, which later transitioned into entertainment as a broadcaster and sports analyst, he was also a family man. When he was married to Carolyn Chambers, Sanders and his wife started a family with the birth of their daughter Deiondra in 1992. The two then welcomed another daughter named Shelomi. With his second wife Pilar Biggers-Sanders, the athlete also had three boys, named Deion Jr., Shilo, and Shedeur. All three of Sanders' sons began playing football just like their dad, People recapped. Shilo and Shedeur played for Jackson State with Sanders as the head coach. In 2022, Sanders revealed he would be the new head coach of the Colorado State Buffaloes, and that his sons would join him on the team, per Sporting News. His daughter Shelomi also continued the family's athletic reputation by signing with Jackson State University in 2022 to play basketball for the program, she posted on Instagram.

Oscar de la Hoya set the record straight about his kids

In the 1991 World Boxing Championship, Marco Rudolph beat a young American boxer named Oscar de la Hoya in the finals. The next year, both men went head-to-head again in the gold medal lightweight match at the Olympics held in Barcelona, Spain. "Before my mother passed away, I promised her I'd win an Olympic Gold Medal. In 1992, I fulfilled that promise," the boxer tweeted. It was the kickstart to a great career, as de la Hoya went on to win 10 world titles. In 1998, the boxer had his first two children with Shanna Moakler, boys Jacob and Devon. The following year, de la Hoya welcomed his daughter Atiana into the family. De la Hoya later married Millie Corretjer and the two had a son, Oscar Gabriel, in 2006, People reported.

Moakler went on to marry Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, though she revealed that de la Hoya was still an important part of her life. "He and I are super close. We're really good friends, and I just think he's great," Moakler told ET. The former boxer shared similar praise for Barker, who helped raise Atiana. "I have nothing but respect for my man Travis Barker," de la Hoya explained on an Instagram Q&A event. As she grew up, Atiana became a model, appeared in episodes of "The Kardashians" thanks to Barker's relationship with Kourtney Kardashian, and also pursued acting, per E! News.

The many Kenny Andersons

Basketball player Kenny Anderson was a basketball prodigy in New York City and went on to play in the NBA for 14 seasons (via The New York Times). Anderson was also inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, per the Black Fives Foundation. He never truly stepped away from the game that made him famous, as Anderson became the men's basketball coach at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. In his family life, Anderson had seven children with five different women. One of the mothers was Dee Dee Roper aka DJ Spinderella of the group Salt-N-Pepa, per The New York Times. He has two boys (Devin and Kenny Jr.) and five girls (Danielle, Christy, Lyric, Jazz, and his stepdaughter Tiana). Anderson ultimately earned custody of Kenny Jr. and told The Washington Post his son "was a big savior. He changed me. I'd never had custody of any of my kids."

Anderson also struggled at times, like going bankrupt and dealing with various addictions, per Andscape. His recovery after a DUI was the focus of the TNT series "Wake Up Call" hosted by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. In a televised intervention, Anderson's son said, "I feel like you don't pay attention to me" and wished his dad could cheer him on during basketball games. Kenny Jr. played basketball at Boyd Anderson High School, winning a district championship. He then played for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Laramie County Community College.

Chad Johnson has a flair for names

At the peak of his NFL career, Chad Johnson had a way of creating buzz in the league. Not only was he an excellent wide receiver but he also loved to have fun on the field. He became known for his increasingly elaborate touchdown celebrations. This ranged from giving the football CPR to showing off his wide range of dance moves, NFL Films recapped. In 2008, he made headlines by legally changing his name to Chad Javon Ochocinco, a reference to his football number. He even thought about changing his name once again to Hachi Go, his numbers in Japanese, per Bleacher Report. In 2012, Ochocinco reverted back to his last name of Johnson. "I'm just doing it for the marriage. It has nothing to do with football. Ochocinco is still in me. It's just my middle name," he told ESPN.

This love of names continued into his family as he named his one son Chad Johnson II. Keeping the family tradition alive, the younger Johnson became a wide receiver for Arizona State University, The Sun reported. This is just one of seven children for the former NFL star. In fact, he had children with six different women. In 2022, Johnson and his fiancee Sharelle Rosado welcomed their first child together and Johnson's eighth kid, per ET. "Just delivered Serenity 'Hurricane' Paula Johnson," the proud dad captioned on Instagram alongside a photo of him with his newborn infant.

Benito Santiago clearly loves his name

Born in Puerto Rico, Benito Santiago's childhood started off with difficult circumstances — he was only an infant when his dad died and his mom subsequently left. Despite the difficult upbringing, none of this deterred Santiago's skill on the baseball diamond, as he went on to be one of the best catchers in MLB from the late '80s through the early '90s, the Society for American Baseball Research recapped. His success started early in the big leagues as he won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 1987. He also joined the Florida Marlins when the club formed in 1993 and was the first player to hit a home run for the franchise.

When it came to naming his children, Santiago mostly stuck with his given name or a variation. He has two sons named Benito Jr. and Benito Ivan and two daughters named Bennybeth and Aliyah, per the SABR. The family also had a cocker spaniel named Lady, after the Disney classic animated movie "Lady and the Tramp." Bennybeth, whose name came about because her dad was hoping for a boy, was the main reason for the dog. "My little girl cry for it. I don't want to see anybody cry," Santiago told the Los Angeles Times.

Ozzie Guillen isn't the only family member with a cool first name

Ozzie Guillen first rose to fame as a professional shortstop, playing many seasons with the Chicago White Sox. After retiring as a player in the MLB, Guillen returned as a manager, working with the Flordia Marlins and White Sox. He helped lead Chicago to win the World Series championship in 2005. Throughout his career as a player and manager, Guillen's wife Ibis was always by his side. Both were teenagers in Venezuela by the time they married and moved together to Texas so Guillen could play Class AA baseball, Our Esquina recapped. Not long after, the couple welcomed their first son, Oswaldo Jr. Their second son, Ozney, shared his father's vision for baseball and was only 27 years old when he became the manager of the Class A baseball team Tri-City Valleycats, which are part of the Houston Astros organization. "I've gotten great phone calls, but I think that was the greatest," Guillen recalled to the Houston Chronicle about hearing his son's big news.

Ozney then graduated from St. Thomas University in 2021 with his dad watching. "I never cried for winning anything. But I did cry when I saw him walk at his graduation. That tells you how important that is for us as a family," Guillen told Our Esquina.

John Williams used slightly fewer generic names for his kids

One way to differentiate professional basketball player John Williams from his rather common name is his nickname, Hot Rod. The nearly 7-foot-tall Williams played as a forward and center for 13 years in the NBA, mainly for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a sixth man. "I know that I could probably start for a lot of teams, including this team, but Coach likes for me to come off the bench, and that's fine with me," he told The Columbus Dispatch, via The New York Times. Williams never won a championship during his career, mainly because his teams often went up against Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. He also had to face the famous Larry Bird with the Boston Celtics, BB Vault recapped. Still, Williams had the distinction of once making more money than Jordan, thanks to savvy contract negotiations when he was a free agent.

The basketball star was also rich in children. The father of six, Williams used his name as the basis for many of his kids' first names. Williams had three sons named John Jr., Johnpaul, and Johnfrancis. His daughters were named Johnna, Sydney, and Na'Tasha. "I want my kids always to know who their daddy is because I never knew who mine was," Williams told The Washington Post. "I want them to have the things I never did and this contract means they'll never have to worry if something happens to me," he added about his family.

Antonio Cromartie had a lot of kids, and then some more

Antonio Cromartie played 11 years in the NFL as a cornerback, often as a member of the New York Jets. After retiring, he returned to football as the cornerback coach for the Texas A&M Aggies football team. Off the field, Cromartie appeared to have no intentions to stop having kids for much of his life. Even Nick Cannon with his many children has nothing on Cromartie's mind-blowing offspring count. On an episode of "Hard Knocks," the NFL star appeared to struggle to remember the names of his nine children at the time. As of 2021, the former NFL player had 14 different children. Amazingly, four of these children were after Cromartie had a vasectomy. "The boys all have my first name as their middle name. So, Jagger is Jagger Beau Antonio Cromartie. Jynx is Jynx Revell Antonio Cromartie. Jordan is named after Michael Jordan," Cromartie told Fatherly. As for his name in the household, he revealed "dad" is common but so is his nickname "Cro."

Cromartie first had eight different children with seven women before marrying his wife Terricka. The married couple then added to the count with five more kids and this huge family became the subject of the reality show "The Cromarties." For one party, producers tried to round up all of the mothers and children connected to the former football player, though only 11 accepted the invite, Page Six recapped.