Families That Are Full Of Incredible Athletes

Going all the way with your athletic endeavors — whether it is basketball, tennis, or football — is no small feat, to be sure. To get to the big leagues, athletes have to demonstrate extreme levels of intelligence, endurance, talent, and determination. It seems that for a small number of people, however, they only had to be born into the right family with the right genetics to sail right to the top of their game.

These famously unique families churned out not one but several sports superstars, which is pretty unbelievable when you think about the odds of making it to the highest level of play. Whether they got a leg up on the competition by training with uber-talented siblings and ultra-driven parents, or they were simply blessed with the DNA to help them rise to the top of the pack, there is no denying that these sports-dynasty families are incredibly rare athletic wonders.

The Harts

The Hart family rules the wrestling ring, that is for sure. They have been the biggest name in the wrestling game for years, partly because so many family members have managed to make a successful career out of the sport. Patriarch Stu Hart was a wrestler and promotor. He was also a dad to 12 kids. Many of those children took after their father, at least athletically speaking. Eight of Stu's boys found some level of success in wrestling. Stu's four daughters didn't get in the ring, but they stayed closely connected to the game, marrying wrestlers who their father employed through his empire, Stampede Wrestling. 

In 1984, Stampede Wrestling was sold to WWE. The top wrestlers in the clan became exposed to far more eyeballs and adoring fans: Bret Hart, known as "The Hitman," was the most popular one of the family. In fact, it can be argued that he was one of the most successful and talented wrestlers of all time. As Bret explained to Gay Calgary in 2013, "I dedicated my life to wrestling and worked really hard at it and gave some of the greatest matches and performances of all time. I am grateful that it meant a lot to so many people and stuck with them ... I am lucky that I touched so many people who remember that." Brother Owen Hart also found great success with the crossover into the WWE until his untimely death at age 34 when he fell to his death during a pay-per-view match. 

The Hull family

The words "hockey" and "Hull" go together like peanut butter and jelly. It is hard to even imagine one without the other. Bobby Hull was the first in his family to step onto the ice as a professional NHL player in 1957. Bobby was known for his killer slapshot (clocked at an absurdly fast 118 mph,) his penchant for putting the puck in the net, and his messy parting from his beloved Chicago Blackhawks club following a contract disagreement.

Seven years after Bobby Hull joined the NHL, his brother Dennis followed suit. Dennis Hull played on the same team that made his older brother famous and had an equally dangerous slapshot. The brothers, who were known as "The Golden Jet" and "The Silver Jet," became Chicago legends, but the family hockey dynasty didn't end with their retirement.

Bobby's son Brett also spent some years in the NHL, playing for clubs like the St. Louis Blues, the Calgary Flames, and the Detroit Redwings. Brett is noted as one of the greatest players ever, and he and his famous father both sit on the NHL's All-time Goals Scored leaderboards. The apple most certainly did not fall far from the tree, in this case.

The Williams sisters

Starting in 1994, tennis phenom Venus Williams stormed the scene. A year later, her sister Serena Williams joined her. In a short span of time, the world was introduced to a tennis legacy unlike any other.

The ladies are fierce, talented, and self-assured. Their natural ability, family support, hard work, and dedication have all helped them become two of the most decorated athletes that the game of tennis has ever seen. Together, they have amassed 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. The Williams sisters also hold the title for their three gold medals in Olympic women's doubles competition.

What is most incredible about this sibling duo (outside of the fact that they play tennis as if they hold magical rackets) is that despite having to compete against each other on a world scale, they remain about as tight as sisters can get, pushing and admiring one another through every step of their journey. "Venus and I worked so hard. Still, to this day we work side by side each other at practice. We motivate each other. Like I said on the court, every time she won her match, I felt obligated to win — I've got to win too. The motivation she gives me is second to nothing. It's amazing," Serena said in her 2017 Australian Open victory speech.

The Mannings

The Manning family is unique because the clan contains four generations of formidable players. The dynasty started with Archie Manning. He played in the NFL for 15 years, but his greatest accomplishment might have been his three strapping, athletically talented sons. Archie's son Cooper Manning proved a talented football player and was looking to be something truly special during his high school years. Unfortunately, a spinal condition halted any chances of a pro career. "Man, the Super Bowls would have been fun to play in," Cooper said to Bleacher Report.

Peyton Manning has played in the NFL for nearly two decades, and during his time on the field, he dutifully led his team to two Super Bowl victories. Even those who don't follow football have likely heard this brother's name a time or two. He is simply that good and that famous. Little bro Eli Manning has also won two Super Bowl titles during his NFL career and famously aided in the great Patriot takedown of 2007.

While the older fellows are all good and done with the sport now, enjoying their tandem status as football legends, they can turn their energy to cheering on the next generation of Manning wonders. Cooper Manning's son Arch plays ball too. Actually, he doesn't just play, he dominates, and the young quarterback is one of the country's most watched college football prospects.

The Matthews brothers

The Matthews family is another football family that is pretty darn unbelievable in terms of talent and success. Clay Matthews kicked things off when he joined the NFL in 1950. He spent four seasons in the league and played 45 games in total. Matthew's oldest son, Clay Matthews Junior, then jumped into the family biz, playing for an astounding 19 seasons.

His son, Clay Matthews III, was the third generation of Matthews men involved in the NFL. During his 10 years with the Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews III has already won a Super Bowl title and has been a six-time pro-bowler. This third-generation footballer has turned his knowledge of the game and lucrative endorsement deals with major businesses like Verizon, Nike, and Gillette into a cash cow. His current net worth is around $50 million.

Clay Matthews III is one of the most recognized and successful football players in the NFL, but he isn't the only third-generation Matthews to land in the professional arena. Bruce Matthews and brother Clay Matthews Jr. have nine sons between the two of them. Of those nine boys, four of them have played in the NFL.

The Sutters

If you compile all of the Sutter brothers who played professional hockey at one point or another, you could pretty much create an entire team of related superstars. In total, six of the seven Sutters went pro on ice. Brother Brian spent 12 seasons in the NHL, while Darryl Sutter contributed his time and talent to 11 seasons before moving on to coach the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup victory. Duane Sutter won the NHL championship as a New York Islander, as did his bro Brett (who played for the club alongside him.) Twins Rich and Ron also landed in the National Hockey League for a spell. 

With so many brothers playing one of the most physical sports on the planet, scraps and on-ice scuffles were all part of the package, especially with brothers playing on rival teams. (Brent and Duane played for New York, while Rich and Ron represented the City of Brotherly Love.) In an interview with The Calgary Sun, Rich Sutter reflected on one particular on-ice brawl. "I don't remember how this started, but it was probably Duane yapping. Because it started out of absolutely nothing. It was between whistles and it ended up there were 10 guys on the ice, and four of 'em were Sutters!" 

The Millers

Michigan State Spartan hockey fans have their very own sports dynasty to be proud of, and that is the Miller family. Ten family members have stepped onto the ice at Munn Ice Arena wearing green-and-white. The colors essentially run through the family's veins, and you would be hard-pressed to find a resident of Spartan country who hasn't heard of at least a few of the Miller men.

Elwood "Butch" Miller and brother Lyle Miller played for Michigan State University in the 1950s. Butch's son, Dean Miller, also played forward at Michigan State in 1978-79. "I looked at playing elsewhere," Dean said, per Michigan State University. "But Michigan State was really the only place I wanted to play." Three of Lyle's sons — Kip, Kevin, and Kelly Miller — all played at MSU as well, for famous coach Ron Mason. Miller cousins, Curtis and Taylor Gemmel, contributed to the dynasty, as did Deans's sons, Ryan Miller and Drew Miller.

Many of these talented players didn't stop at college play. Kip, Kevin, Kelly, Ryan, and Drew all made it to the pros, playing in the National Hockey League.

The Gronkowski sons

Imagine what it had to be like for Mrs. Gronkowski to raise five athletic, high-energy, boisterous boys under one roof? Of those early days in the Gronk house, dad Gordy Gronkowski told the Tampa Bay Times, "We had a good brawl every single day. I had to break somebody up. I mean, a very competitive household and that's how I was growing up. I always had to win and they got that from me. You got to win, you know?"

All of that roughhousing must have given the Gronk kids plenty of practice in head-to-head competition because the five boys went on to play professional sports. Gordie Gronkowski Jr. chose to take his talents to the baseball diamond. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2006 and spent six years in the minor leagues. 

The rest of the Gronkowski boys took to football like fish take to water. Brother Dan played in the NFL from 2009 to 2013 on teams like the Detroit Lions, the Baltimore Ravens, the Denver Broncos, the New England Patriots, and the Cleveland Browns. Chris Gronkowski entered the NFL in 2010 and played professional football for three years. Rob Gronkowski was also drafted to the New England Patriots in 2010. His rookie season was so impressive (catching three touchdown passes from iconic Tom Brady in a single game) that Madden NFL12 has a Rob Gronkowski Award. Glenn Gronkowski also joined in the family football fun, scoring a Super Bowl ring in 2017.

The Currys

The Curry family is one of the most talented and successful families that basketball has ever known. Dad Dell Curry kicked off his family's sports legacy by playing for five pro teams throughout 16 seasons. He then passed on all he learned to his young sons. "I taught my boys the fundamentals of the game and fundamentals of the shot," said Dell Curry. "They had to have their own work ethic and dedication, of course being around the game, watching myself and some of the best players in the world, my teammates, really helped to show them how the pros go about doing it," he explained in an interview with Reuters.

Dell's two sons, with former wife Sonja, are none other than Stephen and Seth Curry. Both have become massive names and influences in the game. Stephen Curry has a net worth of $160 million, and brother Seth's net worth is around $4 million. Their sister, Sydel, played volleyball at Elon University and went on to wed Golden State Warrior Damion Lee. Seth Curry also helped create a super-family of basketball greats with his marriage to Callie Rivers (daughter of legendary player and coach Doc Rivers.)

The Molinas

Puerto Rico-born Bengie, José, and Yadier Molina have baseball in their blood. They must, because no other explanation justifies just how incredibly talented and decorated these three men are in the world of sports. The Molina brothers are sometimes called The First Family of Catchers, as they all made careers playing the same position. Not only do the bros share a family bond and a baseball position, but they also all know what it is like to go to the World Series ... and win. Yep. As if having three kids make it to the MLB isn't a rare enough occurrence within a brood, these guys have six World Series rings between the trio. They hold the title for the most siblings to win the baseball world series. 

Their father Benjamin (who clearly passed his baseball genes down to his sons) must be really proud of how far his sons have come. From tossing a ball on a dirt field in their hometown of Dorado, Puerto Rico, to playing in the largest ballparks in America, this family proves hard work, talent, and determination can get you anywhere in life.

The Howe family

Gordie Howe is often referred to by his nickname, Mr. Hockey, and this is for a very good reason. Howe played in the NHL for an incredible 26 seasons, mostly as a Detroit Red Wing or a Hartford Whaler. Over the course of his career, he scored 801 goals, made over 1,000 assists, and won four Stanley Cups. He's also in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Yep, he was certainly one of the greatest in the game, and he passed his sports genes on to his family. Gordie Howe is by far the most well-known player to come out of the talented family, but he wasn't the only Howe to make a career for himself on ice.

Two of Gordie's sons, Mark and Marty Howe, also played professional hockey, even taking to the ice with their father during the trio's time with the Houston Aeros and the Hartford Whalers. Gordie Howe's brother Vic also played in the National Hockey league during the 1950s.

"My dad lived and taught us by example, how he conducted himself on and off the ice, and the way he treated his fans and family is something I've always taken very seriously," Mark Howe told NHL.com. "Obviously I put my dad on a pedestal."

The Alis

Most people agree that Muhammad Ali was the greatest heavyweight boxer the world has ever known. His accolades include winning the heavyweight championship three times and earning 56 career wins out of 61 battles in the ring. What people don't always recognize is that he wasn't the only boxer in the family, not by a long shot. Muhammad Ali's younger brother Rahman Ali (born Rudy Clay) was also a successful boxer, as was Rudy's son, Ibn. Muhammad Ali's daughter, Laila Ali, is a legend in her own right. She was Super Middleweight Champion in 2002 and 2005 and had 21 knockouts during her undefeated career. However, it took a while for her dad to come around to the idea. As she explained to Access Daily, "He actually said to me, 'You shouldn't do it. It's not for women. It's a man's sport.'" After she won championships, he apologized for his previous beliefs and comments.

While the above-mentioned Ali family members have had their moment in the sun and turned in their gloves for good, it looks like the boxing legacy will continue with Muhammad Ali's grandson, Nico Ali Walsh. Walsh, the son of Ali's daughter Rashida Ali and her husband Bob Walsh, made his professional boxing debut in 2021, and since then, he has been working hard to carry on his family's legacy of greatness. He remains undefeated in the five matches under his pro boxer belt, a good start that his esteemed grandfather would be very proud of. 

The Rivers family

Doc Rivers played in the NBA from 1983 to 1996 on teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs, and the Atlanta Hawks. In 1999, he transitioned from player to coach, guiding the Orlando Magic with his wisdom and experience. He later went on to coach in Boston, L.A., and Philadelphia. While Rivers' career is impressive, his offspring's legacy is even more so.

The legendary player and coach has four children with his former wife, Kristin. Jeremiah Rivers played ball at Georgetown and Indiana University. Austin Rivers played at Duke University before heading to the NBA, where he has been a part of numerous pro teams. When offered the opportunity to play for his dad, who coached the Los Angeles Clippers from 2013 to 2020, Austin explained to The Ringer, "I would really kind of like to go somewhere else. I don't want to be under that name or that shadow." His feelings are understandable, since he added that he took a lot of heat playing under his dad.

As for the other Rivers kids, youngest son, Spencer Rivers, played at the University of California, Irvine. Doc and Kristin have one daughter, Callie. She was also an athletically talented Rivers kid, specializing in volleyball at the University of Florida. She bridges her basketball family to another basketball dynasty, the Currys, when she and Seth Curry married in 2019.

The Spinks family

When it comes to professional boxing, there are two families that seem to have been born with the gloves on — the Mayweathers and the Spinks. The Mayweathers have the more universally recognized name, thanks to Floyd Mayweather Jr's massive success in the sport, but many who are well-versed in the boxing world will tell you that it is the Spinks clan who deserve the title of Boxing's First Family. "As good as Floyd Jr. is, and I think he's the best in boxing right now, I'd probably have to give the edge to the Spinkses," said former boxing judge Harold Lederman in HBO's "24/7," via The Ring.

This boxing lineage includes Michael Spinks, a Hall of Fame inductee, and the undisputed light heavyweight champion, his heavyweight bro Leon (who famously took down the great Muhammad Ali in 1978 for the title,) also an undisputed heavyweight champion, and Leon's son Cory, the undisputed welterweight champion. If you are counting, that is three undisputed champions in a single family. In an interview with Zenger News, Cory Spinks revealed that the number could have been even higher. "What's crazy is my brother didn't have the opportunity to be listed as well because his life was cut short. But me, my dad, my uncle and my other two brothers from my dad, we all won national championships. It could have easily been five of us."

The Nessers

Ohioans are proud of a few key things, and one of those things is football. You can't talk about Ohio football or even football history in general without some mention of the Nesser family.

Professional football, as we know it today, was born in 1920. This was the NFL's very first official season. During this football birth phase, two pro football leagues existed: the Ohio League and the New York Pro Football League. The Ohio League had a team named the Columbus Panhandles. That team was the home team for six (yes, you read that correctly) brothers in the Nesser family.

Frank, Phil, Ted, John, Al, and Fred all had a moment of greatness to some degree during their pigskin-tossing years. Aside from football, some of the bros were also skilled in other athletic areas. Fred Nesser was an accomplished boxer as well as a talented football player. Having siblings play in the NFL isn't totally unique as there have been some 393 sibling sets to play professional football. But to have half a dozen siblings engage in the sport at one time or another? Well, that is some incredible stuff there, folks.