Athletes With Love Children You Didn't Know About

There are some obvious perks to being a professional athlete. But all too often, well-conditioned competitors find themselves struggling with this sudden onset of fame, financial gain, and admiration. And all that attention and adoration has the danger of leading to reckless sexual behavior. Steven M. Ortiz, an assistant professor of sociology at Oregon State University who conducted a study about infidelity in sports, explained at a 2009 American Sociological Association meeting, "At home and especially on the road, these athletes deal with boredom, peer group pressure, team loyalty, opportunity, sense of self-importance, and the availability of women who seem to be irresistibly attracted to professional athletes. There clearly seems to be a 'fast food sex mentality' among professional athletes." It goes without saying that sometimes these affairs lead to procreation.

For professional athletes, the stakes are high season after season. When you consider the risks of damaging marriages, disappointing fans and teammates, or gaining unwanted media attention, is it any wonder why so many athletes have opted to keep their love children hidden? We're sure there are plenty of examples still flying under the radar, but here are some athletes who have had secret children.

Dwyane Wade fathered a kid while on a relationship break

Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade and actor Gabrielle Union started dating in 2009. Reportedly at the time of the conception of Wade's love child with Aja Metoyer, the NBA pro and "Bring It On Star" were going through a rough patch. They worked things out and got married that same year, but for Union, it wasn't easy dealing with the news that the NBA veteran had fathered a child outside of their relationship. "In 2013, before we were married, Dwyane had a baby with another woman. It should go without saying that we were not in a good place in our relationship at the time that child was conceived. But we were in a much better place when he finally told me about the pregnancy. To say I was devastated is to pick a word on a low shelf for convenience," Union wrote in her memoir "You Got Anything Stronger?"

Wade was having a hard time with news as well and was insanely nervous to confess to his fiancée. "Hardest thing I've ever had to do is man up and tell Gabrielle Union that I've had a child with somebody else. I couldn't sleep. I wasn't eating," he said in the ESPN documentary "D. Wade: Life Unexpected" (via Entertainment Tonight). The couple worked through it and sure seemed to come out stronger than ever. They went on to welcome a child in 2018.

NFL star Dan Marino had a secret child with a co-worker

Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino was an NFL analyst for CBS from 2002 to 2014. In 2013, it was revealed that he fathered a child with CBS production assistant Donna Savaterre in 2005. "Everything was on the down-low and secretive," a source explained to The New York Post. According to the initial report, Marino paid millions to Savaterre to support the child and keep their arrangement out of the public eye. His wife, Claire Marino, was aware of the affair and the child, but chose to stay with him. In 2022, the Marinos, who share six children, celebrated 37 years of marriage. 

When the story of his relationship with Savaterre finally broke, Dan released a statement. "I take full responsibility both personally and financially for my actions now as I did then. We mutually agreed to keep our arrangement private to protect all parties involved."

In 2014, CBS announced Marino would be leaving his NFL analyst position. While the timing might've raised a few eyebrows, the network didn't mention the affair. "We both decided it has been a great partnership. Dan remains a very good friend," chairman Sean McManus said, per the Miami Herald. "He will hopefully find something every bit as challenging."

Evander Holyfield welcomed kids with two other women

You probably know Evander Holyfield as the boxer whose ear Mike Tyson bit that one time, many moons ago. But you probably don't know much about his personal life. 1998 was a big year for Holyfield. Within the same week of September that year, not only did he retain his IBF and WBA heavyweight titles, his then-wife, Janice Itson, gave birth to their child. A few days later, he revealed he had also recently fathered two other children with two other women. He confessed about the affairs in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via the AP). He clearly was feeling guilty about it and wanted to air it all out. "How come I keep making bad decisions? How come I can make good decisions in a boxing ring but not in my life? When I'm in training, I do exactly what I'm told to do. But in my personal life, I think that if I don't do what I want, it'll be all right," he stated.

After Itson learned of the affairs, the divorce process was set in motion. He's been divorced three times and has eleven children from six different women. Needless to say, he pays a lot in child support.

Arnold Schwarzenegger had a son he kept a secret

He may be a movie star and a former governor, but Arnold Schwarzenegger got his start as a professional bodybuilder. And while it's common knowledge now, for many years it was kept way quiet that he had fathered a child with his housekeeper. His wife, Maria Shriver, was none the wiser until the child was 13 years old. "After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago. I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry," the "Terminator" star said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

Shriver and Schwarzenegger separated after the news, though they didn't finalize their divorce until 2021. The housekeeper, Mildred Baena, gave an exclusive interview to Hello! concerning the son she had with the former bodybuilder. According to her account, Shriver started to pick up on the resemblance the child had to her husband. "Finally, she asked point blank. She was so strong. She cried with me," Mildred said of Shriver's confrontation. Mildred and Schwarzenegger's son, Joseph Baena, is now an actor, bodybuilder, real estate agent, and "Dancing with the Stars" alum. He is close with his father and they bond over fitness.

Julius Erving's secret daughter became a tennis star

Julius "Dr. J" Erving was playing for the Philadelphia 76ers when he met Samantha Stevenson in 1976. She was a sports journalist and they soon struck up an affair, despite the fact that the NBA star was married. In 1980, Samantha gave birth to their daughter. Needless to say, Erving's wife was not happy about the situation and all parties involved agreed the affair and the child should be kept a secret from the public. "I wasn't in their life...but I was never a deadbeat dad. I didn't ignore them; I tried to support them," Erving told ESPN.

Their daughter, Alexandra Stevenson, went on to be a talented athlete like her father, though tennis was her game of choice. At 18, she made it to the semifinals of Wimbledon and this put a new spotlight on the young tennis star. When the media got ahold of her birth certificate and it listed her father as Julius Winfield Erving II, the truth was put in print, per The Washington Post. The secret was out but it would be another nine years before Erving would meet his long lost daughter. When Alexandra was 27, she reached out to him and they've had a relationship ever since. "Meeting her that day for me ranks up there, really, with the NBA championship, the ABA championships, the induction into the Hall of Fame," he said.

Eight of Antonio Cromartie's children were out of wedlock

If you think Nick Cannon has a lot of kids, wait until you hear about former NFL cornerback Antonio Cromartie. While he has five children with his wife, Terricka Cromartie, Antonio already had eight children from seven different women when entering the marriage, according to Page Six. He also is a stepdad to Terricka's child from a previous relationship, making him a father of 14 children in total.

While he made a good chunk of change playing professional football, a not insignificant portion goes to child support. In 2016, the New York Post reported he was paying the mothers of his seven out-of-wedlock-children $3,500 a month in child support which equals roughly $336,000 a year. Unfortunately, beyond money he doesn't seem to be too involved in the lives of his love children. "These kids have to Google to find out about their dad," one of the mothers told the outlet. Antonio retired from the NFL in 2018 and spends the primary chunk of his time with the family he's built with Terricka — though they did attempt to bring all the children together during the filming of their short-lived USA reality show, per Page Six.

Bartolo Colon had a secret second family

The former MLB pitcher Bartolo Colon got caught in a scandal in 2016 when it was revealed he had two secret children with a woman who wasn't his wife, per The New York Post. The two children he shared with his mistress, Alexandra Santos, were brought to public attention after Santos sued Bartolo for failing to pay child support. "Mr. Colon obviously is a very talented baseball player and he earns a significant income, and we believe that his children should share in the lifestyle they would have enjoyed had their parents remained together," her lawyer told the publication.

Bartolo, who was pitching for the New York Mets when the scandal broke, also has four children with his wife, Rosanna Colon. What's more, Rosanna knew all about the affair and the subsequent children but told the outlet that she wouldn't say anything beyond that. The super of Santos' apartment building told The New York Post that Bartolo visited his children once a month. "He used to come and park here, come up for a little while and leave...Whatever she needed, he would bring or he would send his driver. Phone, iPad, clothes, food — whatever she wanted," the source said.

Miguel Cabrera had two children with his mistress

MLB pro Miguel Cabrera, a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, is married and shares three children with his wife, Rosangel Cabrera. In 2018, his personal life became tabloid fodder when his mistress, Belkis Mariela Rodriguez, sued him for more child support, per the Daily Mail. He has two children with Rodriguez and reportedly spends a lot of money on them. The court documents revealed that he had helped her buy a mansion in Florida, footed hefty vacation bills, and paid $20,000 a month without official court order to do so, per The Detroit News. However, when his wife discovered the affair and threatened divorce, he reportedly stopped communicating with Rodriguez and scaled back on payments.

Rodriguez decided to take Miguel to court, in hopes of receiving $100,000 a month for child support, according to The Detroit Free Press. After a long trial, the judge ordered the baseball star to pay off the mortgage for his former lover's Florida home and resume the $20,000 a month payments. Miguel and Rosangel have stayed married. 

Muhammad Ali allegedly had a tenth child from an affair

Boxing legend Muhammed Ali had nine acknowledged children from six different women. But the superstar fighter was also famously a ladies' man and so it was always possible he had fathered a few additional kids. In 2014, Kiiursti Mensah-Ali made such a claim. In an interview with The Mirror, she revealed she was the boxer's tenth child and that she had a relationship with him until he married his fourth wife. "Muhammad Ali is my dad — but everything changed the moment he married her. He stopped coming to see me. As the years went by, he got sicker and sicker. She stopped him having a relationship with me. It's been devastating," she explained.

Mensah-Ali's story has never officially been confirmed in the press; there are contradictory claims about a 1988 paternity test. Maxim reported that the DNA test proved he was not the father but Mensah-Ali denied that and said, "The first came back inconclusive as around that time he had just had blood transfusions. So we took it again in 1988 and it said that I was 99.9 percent his child." While Mensah-Ali said she had no interest in Ali's money, two years later, her mother allegedly claimed she had a sex tape of the boxer and wanted $100,000 for it, per The Sun