Athletes Who Had Kids When They Were Really Young

Besides having the talent, the NBA requires prospective players to be at least 19 years of age to be eligible to play professionally. Knowing that these rising stars could potentially make millions, many celebs have started families at a young age

Many famous athletes have started families in their teens and early 20s. While having the financial means to do so is a big help, these athletes have also had to juggle their busy careers and raise a family. It's no easy feat, especially when athletes are usually traveling from city to city or even from country to country every season. Despite these challenges, the athletes below have made parenthood look like a breeze even if they seemed like babies themselves.

From the NBA, WNBA to MLS, check out which athletes have become mothers and fathers at a really young age and just when their careers were taking off. 

Lamar Odom

Before Lamar Odom found himself in a whirlwind marriage with Khloe Kardashian of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" fame, the former NBA player was in another serious relationship that resulted in the birth of his three children with his first child, a girl, born when Odom was just 19-years-old. 

According to the Daily Mail, a year before Odom was drafted to the Los Angeles Clippers, he welcomed a daughter named Destiny in 1998 with former girlfriend Liza Morales. In 2002, they would welcome their second child, a boy named Lamar Jr., and in 2006, their third child, Jayden, was born. Sadly, Jayden died a year later from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The loss of their child was tough for both parents, with Morales telling People that it caused her to battle with depression while Odom battled with drug addiction. "I lost myself trying to co-parent with an addict, trying to guide my kids through the trauma of losing their sibling, of dealing with a father who's an addict and the constant headlines," she shared.

The couple split soon after Jayden's death but remained on good terms. In 2009, Odom married Kardashian after just dating for one month. Odom's daughter Destiny admitted, "When your dad's an NBA player that's already enough, but when he's marrying a reality TV star, things are so public and you don't have a private life anymore." Kardashian and Odom called it quits in 2016.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Shaquille O'Neal

In 1992, Shaquille O'Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick and quickly shot to fame as one of the most talented NBA players, even leading his team to the 1995 NBA finals. O'Neal later joined Kobe Bryant and headed to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers, and during that time, the young, 24-year-old star player also entered the world of fatherhood when he and former girlfriend Arnetta Yardbourgh welcomed daughter Taahirah in 1996.

A party lifestyle ended for O'Neal when he became a dad, telling The Chicago Tribune in 1996, "I don't get out much anymore. Now that I'm a father, after work I come home and chill out and change diapers and sing and turn on these little things that go, 'Fum, dum, dum.'" O'Neal and Yardbourgh never tied the knot, and eventually split with the NBA star later marrying Shaunie O'Neal in 2002. According to People, Shaunie welcomed son Myles, in 1997, from a previous relationship who later took on the O'Neal last name. The former couple would also welcome four more children, Shareef, Amirah, Shaqir, and Me'arah, who are all talented in their own right. 

Although the couple split in 2011, he shared with "The Pivot" podcast that he has positive relationships with both women. "I have two wonderful women that have given me beautiful, gorgeous children I have to protect and I have to provide and I have to love for them forever," he said.

Evander Holyfield

Famed professional boxer Evander Holyfield was 22-years-old when he competed in his first boxing match in 1984. That same year, Holyfield also welcomed his son, Evan, who would become just like his father. 

SportsCasting reported that Holyfield is the father of 11 kids from six different women. However, his first son is by far his most famous child as he also followed in his father's footsteps to become a boxer. He also signed with Main Events in 2019, the same company that signed Holyfield back in the '80s, per ESPN. At 21-years-old, Evan shared about seeing his passions come to life, "This is really a dream come true. I have been doing this for more than 10 years and it's not really a job if you really enjoy it. Life is always better when you have a dream you can strive for and work towards every day. I am eager to get started and excited to begin this next chapter."

Speaking to Sporting News about his father's legacy and becoming a legend in his own right, Evan shared, "If you want to be great, you need to look at the greats. If you want to be a great basketball player, you have to look at Michael Jordan. I wanted to be great at boxing, and my father is on that shortlist of boxers I had to look at to see greatness."

David Beckham

David Beckham is one of the greatest players in soccer history, having started his career at the age of 17 with Manchester United in 1992. But, besides being known for his physical agility on the field, he was also recognized in the entertainment industry after he began dating Spice Girls star Victoria Beckham. 

According to Harper's Bazaar, the couple go back to the late '90s when they announced their engagement in January 1998. Just a little over a year later, and at the age of 24, the soccer star and the songstress welcomed their first child, a son named Brooklyn in March, and tied the knot in July 1999. At that time, Becks did not need to worry about making enough money to raise his son as he was already one of the highest paid players in soccer, trailing second to Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Beckham's later welcomed three more children with Romeo born in 2002, Cruz born in 2005, and their youngest, a daughter Harper born in 2011. His eldest, Brooklyn, now all grown up, also married at a young age when he and Nicole Peltz wed in April 2022 at the age of 22, per Elle

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade was a very busy guy in the early 2000s when he not only entered the 2003 NBA draft and was selected fifth overall by the Miami Heat, but had just become a dad when he welcomed a son named Zaire a year prior.

Wade was just 20-years-old when he and his ex-wife Siohvaughn Funches welcomed Zaire. In 2007, the former couple welcomed Zion, who was assigned male at birth, and who now goes by Zaya and identifies as transgender, per USA Today. That same year, Wade separated from his first wife and their divorce was finalized in 2010. Wade and actor Gabrielle Union began dating in 2009, but they briefly split in 2013, and the basketball pro fathered a child named Xavier with Aja Metoyer. Despite this, Wade and Union reunited and got married in 2014 and they later welcomed a daughter named Kaavia via surrogate in 2018, per Us Weekly

Wade's oldest son, Zaire, is playing in the NBA G League with the Salt Lake City Stars. Talking to The Salt Lake Tribune, Zaire talked about his famous dad pushing him to be at his best, "He keeps it setting different goals for me to try to reach as far as being successful. And I keep telling my dad, 'Slow down, man, I'm trying to catch up with you, and you're making it hard for me!'"

Candace Parker

Candace Parker was 22-years-old when she was selected first overall in the 2008 WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. The very next year she welcomed her first child, a daughter named Lailaa with ex-husband Shelden Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Having to spend some time off the court while pregnant, she shared, "I think the toughest thing for me is I'm so active. As an athlete, you have a playing weight that you play at and you have a diet that you follow. And I think the toughest part is, you know, having to step on the scale and it's inevitable that the numbers gonna rise."

No longer with Williams, the star athlete welcomed a son, Airr, with her wife Anna Petrakova in February 2022. Speaking to People, Parker said, "It's been amazing to go through this again, and then obviously with my beautiful wife and my daughter [by my side]. Being able to see her as a sister, it's been amazing." She added, "I feel bad for him because I think that she [Lailaa] is going to think it's her baby for the rest of her life. She's very protective of him, and it's very sweet."

Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha Curry welcomed their first child Riley in July 2012 and although the NBA star was just 23-years-old, he was already a superstar on the court having been with the NBA team for four years and bringing home close to $4 million during his 2012/2013 season, per HoopsHype.

Although athletes get a bad rap for being unfaithful, the Curry's have stood the test of time. According to Us Weekly, having known one another since they were teens, the couple tied the knot in 2011, welcoming Riley a year after. Talking about how quickly he went from husband to father, Curry shared, "It's been a whirlwind. I had to grow up, for sure ... We wanted kids, but we didn't think it would happen in our first three months of marriage" (via Sports Spectrum). Ayesha, who became a mom at just 22, also said about their daughter Riley, "Even to this day, we haven't had time to process what has really happened. We are still like, 'Oh, we get to keep her?'"

The Currys welcomed two more children — a daughter named Ryan in 2015, and a son born in 2018 named Cannon, per Us Weekly. Curry's salary has also gone up, and as of this writing, he is the highest paid player in the NBA for the 2021-22 season, per Forbes.


Neymar da Silva Santos Junior was 17-years-old when he made his professional debut with Brazilian soccer club Santos in 2009. Two years later, he would earn the title of dad when he welcomed a son.

According to Distractify, the soccer star and Carolina Dantas, a digital creator who boasts over two million Instagram followers, welcomed a son named Davi Lucca in August 2011, when Neymar was just 19-years-old. Looking at Dantas' Instagram, she and Neymar are no longer together, but they do appear to be on good terms as they co-parent their son. In February 2022, Dantas shared a touching photo of the exes hugging along with a video of Neymar with Davi.

In 2021, Neymar shared with British GQ that having more children is in his future plans. "I'm almost 30, and I have a good career, but on a personal level I want to have two more kids, to give my son Davi some brothers." Since starting his career at Santos, Neymar has also played for Barcelona, and as of this writing, is playing for French football club Paris Saint-Germain

LeBron James

2003 was a big year for LeBron James, who went No. 1 overall at the NBA draft when he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The very next year, he and his high school sweetheart Savannah James would welcome a son, LeBron "Bronny" James Jr. 

LeBron and Savannah were both 19 when they welcomed their son into the world. Despite already getting drafted into the NBA, she shared with Harper's Bazaar that she believed their new venture into parenthood at such a young age could have hurt his career. "I was thinking, 'What am I going to tell my parents? What's going to happen to his career?' I was very scared. I was bawling. But he said, 'It's not going to slow me down ... We're going to keep doing what we have to do,'" she shared. The couple welcomed a second son named Bryce Maximus James in June 2007, and they later tied the knot in 2013. A year later, they welcomed their third child, a daughter named Zhuri, per Clutch Points

LeBron has big dreams to play ball with his oldest son before he goes into retirement. Bronny James is eligible to participate in the 2024 NBA Draft with LeBron telling The Athletic, "My last year will be played with my son. Wherever Bronny is at, that's where I'll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It's not about the money at that point."

Anthony Martial

In 2015, Manchester United signed a $90 million deal to nab a then 19-year-old Anthony Martial to join their team. At the time, it was the highest payout made for a teenager in soccer history, per The Mirror. So, besides the pressure to live up to that mega costly deal, fans probably didn't know that he was also busy being a dad.

According to The Mirror, Martial and his ex-wife Samantha, who were then childhood sweethearts, welcomed a daughter when he was just a teen. Despite making headlines for his move to United and the price paid for the young athlete, Martial was focused on becoming the best player he could be while raising his daughter. "I'm very proud. I worked hard for this and my family is very happy about it." he shared, adding, "I don't feel the pressure. I know there is pressure but I'm ready for it."

Martial shared with France Football magazine, "After training, I like to come home and find my wife. I am very homely" (via The Mirror). According to The Sun, Martial welcomed a second child, a boy named Swan, in 2018, with Melanie Da Cruz. Daily Star reported that they split in April 2022.