Professional athletes are more than just entertainers. To many, they are idols who perform to a degree only their biggest fans can explain. Many of them were raised by single mothers who instilled in them the key attributes necessary for success in the athletic world. Here are some of the big names raised by single mums.
1. LeBron James
Arguably one of the all-time best basketball players to have ever graced the court, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James was born in Akron Ohio, to his 16-year-old mother Gloria Marie James. Things were incredibly difficult for James and his family, as they moved around constantly while his single mother tried to find solid employment.
At nine years old, Gloria thought it was best for her son to move in with his youth football coach, Frank Walker. It was Walker who peaked LeBron’s interest in basketball and the boy never looked back.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was raised by his mother Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro. His father was a serious drunkard who contributed nothing in his life.
However, the mother recently admitted that she almost aborted Ronaldo when she discovered the pregnancy but later changed her mind. Dolores now handles her son’s finances, worth Sh40 billion, and was once spotted holding his hand as they crossed the road during his early days at Manchester United.
3. Shaquille O’Neal
Measuring just over 7 feet tall, “Shaq” needs no introduction. He was born in New Jersey on March 6, 1972 and his mother Lucille O’Neal was left to care for infant Shaq on her own after the imprisonment of his father Joseph Toney, a talented high school basketball star.
Lucille, however, soon married Phillip Harrison, a sergeant in the Army Reserve. Shaq has openly stated that he has no desire to speak with his biological father as he did not get parenting from him, but he sure got his dad’s skills on the basketball court.
4. Alex Rodriguez
A-Rod, whose real name is Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, is often regarded as one of the greatest baseball players to have ever picked up a bat. He was born in New York in 1975 to Lourdes Navarro and Victor Rodriguez.
Rodriguez began playing baseball at the age of four, after moving with his family to the Dominican Republic. Six years later, Rodriguez and his family moved once again, settling in Miami. Lourdes and Victor separated soon thereafter, and Rodriguez was cared for by his mother.
5. Luis Suarez
Known for biting his opponents on the football field besides scoring plenty of goals, Luis Suárez was born in 1987 in Uruguay. He was just nine when his parents separated.
Suárez’s mother cared for him alone and despite raising a son fond of nibbling other competitors, she sure raised quite a striker. With over twenty awards under his jersey, Suárez continues to shock the world with his football skills.
6. Mike Tyson
Another biter, Michael Gerard Tyson makes the list. Unlike Suárez, the ever so infamous boxing champion was born in Brooklyn, New York. Tyson never actually knew his biological father, Purcell Tyson.
Instead, Tyson knew a North Carolina man by the name of Jimmy Kirkpatrick to be his father. It was shortly after he was born, that he started experiencing loss.
Tyson and his family was deserted by Kirkpatrick and his mother Lorna Mae was left to raise the children alone. At 16, Tyson’s mother died and Cus D’Amato, Tyson’s boxing trainer and manager was named his legal guardian.
7. Kevin Durant
Just won the NBA title with the Golden Sate Warriors after promising his mother one when he was nine. Born in 1988, Durant’s father abandoned his family when he was just an infant. His mother Wanda and grandmother Barbara Davis raised the soon-to-be star.
The ex-Oklahoma City Thunder star was the first freshman to have ever won the Naismith College Player of the Year for small forward skills with the University of Texas. He left the Longhorns to go pro and became a decorated basketball player.
8. Lance Armstrong
Shamed former professional cyclist Lance Edward Armstrong was raised without a father. His 17-year-old mother Linda began life as a single mother shortly after giving birth to him. Linda then found herself getting divorced for a second time, leaving her to raise Armstrong by herself once more after her next marriage fell apart, when he was only three.
9. Alexis Sanchez
Arsenal and Chilean star Alexis Sanchez is a great player today known all over the world. However, according to his recent interview, things were bad when he was growing up.
The former Barcelona revealed that his father abandoned his family when he was only five years old leaving his mother to take care of them. He says things got so bad that he could not even afford football boots. He was given his first pair by the Mayor of Tocopila after scoring eight goals in a single match at U-14 level.
10. Arturo Vidal
Bayern Munich and Chile star Arturo Vidal was raised by his mother Jacqueline Pardo in a poverty-stricken neighbourhood. Vidal’s father Erasmo Vidal separated with his mother when he was only five years.
Vidal was forced to become the “Man of the house” to help out his mum who was working as a cleaner and he has been the bread winner for his family ever since.