25 Little-Known Facts About Professional Athletes

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25 Little-Known Facts About Professional Athletes

25 Little-Known Facts About Professional Athletes
Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Many fun facts about professional athletes are passed around at work or in the gym. Sports fans can't help but love hoarding their little-known gems of knowledge over friends and family in an effort to show off their ultimate sports trivia wisdom. We all know the classics – Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team, Babe Ruth was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Ted Williams was a better fighter pilot than he was a hitter, Harmon Killebrew is the silhouette on the MLB logo, and so on. Thankfully, the world of sports is vast and the Internet exists, so fans will never run out of interesting tidbits of knowledge with which to impress friends and coworkers.

The life and histories of athletes are open game for the media now, whether for better or worse. This makes learning up on an athlete's past, the good and the bad, more easy than ever before. Still, you don't have time to Google fun facts all day, so Rant Sports is here to help. While some entries may make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, others will leave you shaking your head at your monitor in disbelief.

Some of these entries are uplifting stories of charity and goodwill. Others are embarrassing tales that hopefully serve to humble the athlete in one way or another. The rest are just a series of hilarious or otherwise awesome facts about athletes that you probably didn't know. In this list, we cover NFL stars with hearts of gold, NBA ballers with previously unknown talents, MLB players with some surprising family histories, and a variety of other athletes and their interesting personal facts.

Doug LaCerte is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @DLaC67, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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25. Tom Brady, the Expo?

Tom Brady, the Expo?
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There aren't many athletes as synonymous with their position as Tom Brady. However, Brady's career path could have changed drastically when he was drafted as a catcher by the now-defunct Montreal Expos. Thankfully for New England Patriots fans everywhere, he eventually decided on football instead. Speaking of possible travesties averted...

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24. Lebron's Future in Football Ends

Lebron's Future in Football Ends
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In his senior year of AAU basketball, Lebron James broke his non-shooting wrist and was sidelined. Although this didn't stop him from returning to dominate the game of basketball, it did put an end to his football career.

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23. MJ's Magical Meal

MJ's Magical Meal
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Greatness was routine for Michael Jordan, and apparently so was good steak. Prior to every game, MJ ate the same meal- a 23-ounce steak (of course,) a salad and either a baked potato or mashed potatoes.

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22. Rodman's Ridiculous Attempt at Acting

Tuomas Venhola-Wikimedia Commons

Surely you know Dennis Rodman as the source of quite a few moments of insanity. But, did you know that he starred in one of the worst movies of all time? 1999's Simon Sez stars Rodman as an Interpol agent that must do something epic and save some girl or some crap. The movie co-stars Dane Cook as a ... guy that likes making animal noises? Yeah, it's no masterpiece. Critics everywhere panned the film, and it currently sits at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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21. Ray Allen's Less Ridiculous Attempt

Ray Allen's Less Ridiculous Attempt
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For a movie starring a famous baller that doesn't totally suck, check out Spike Lee's He Got Game. Ray Allen shows off his acting chops in this '90s sports drama early in his basketball career.

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20. Cano The Children's Character

Cano The Children's Character
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Robinson Cano may seem larger than life, what with his ridiculous athleticism and huge salary, but there was one instance where Cano was cast in a legitimate fiction. Unlike other athletes on this list, his likeness wasn't brought to the big screen, but to world of literature. Cano was a character in the children's book Boys of Steel, which was written by New York Yankees special assistant Ray Negron.

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19. The Cultured Kobe

The Cultured Kobe
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant actually spent eight years of his childhood in Italy, which left him with a fluent understanding of the Italian language. When the most recent NBA lockout occurred, Kobe was pursued by an Italian basketball team to play there while they sorted their crap out here in the US.

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18. Medicinal Mutumbo

Medicinal Mutumbo
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Legendary big man Dikembe Mutumbo didn't go to Georgetown University on a basketball scholarship, but rather a USAID scholarship to study medicine. When he arrived at the university, he didn't know English. He now speaks nine different languages. Nine.

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17. Youth In Action

Youth In Action
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Griffin III is a symbol of youth in football for a variety of reasons. As well as leading his Washington Redskins to the playoffs last year, RGIII was also the first quarterback born in the '90's to win an NFL game.

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16. The Kaepernick Family Pet

The Kaepernick Family Pet
Wikipedia Commons

Colin Kaepernick has found friendship in this tortoise named Sammy, whom Colin has had since age 10. Sammy now weighs over a hundred pounds, and has his own Twitter account with over 3,800 followers. Believe it or not, you can follow him @SammyKaep7. The next entry shows that everyone has their own way of finding camaraderie...

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15. Hope Solo Speaks About Curiosity

Hope Solo Speaks About Curiosity
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In Solo: A Memoir of Hope, Hope Solo explained that curiosity led her to ... experiment with fellow lady soccer players during her career.

“I'd had gay teammates throughout my career – I thought maybe I should see their side of things. So we made out. Interesting but not life-changing. I was straight.”

This is a family-friendly site, so we'll just move on without further comment.

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14. Presidential Praise

Presidential Praise
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Cristiano Ronaldo is a world-famous soccer star from Portugal. Want to guess how he got his name? Oddly enough, he was named after his father's favorite American president, Ronald Reagan.

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13. Jaromir Contains Hidden Hockey Message

Jaromir Contains Hidden Hockey Message
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jaromir Jagr is a right winger for the New Jersey Devils with another awesome inspiration for his name. If you rearrange the letters in “Jaromir,” you can create the name “Mario Jr.” Very nice, Jaromir Jagr's dad, very nice.

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12. Deep Family Ties

Deep Family Ties
John Bonzo-Wikimedia Commons

Will Clark was best known for his years playing at first base for the San Francisco Giants. What most probably don't know is that without one of his ancestor's assistance, the team or even the city may not even exist. Will “The Thrill” is a direct descendant of the former Second Lieutenant William Clark, who joined with Captain Meriwether Lewis for the first American expedition of Western North America.

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11. Kershaw Still Upset About Pluto Not Being Planet

Kershaw Still Upset About Pluto Not Being Planet
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Clyde Tombaugh discovered the apparently-not-a-planet Pluto in 1930. He also went on to become the great-uncle of arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace has shared his disagreement over Pluto no longer being a legit planet, and apparently fans have gotten in on the fun, as well.

“Some fans have actually sent me shirts saying ‘Pluto is still a planet in our hearts,’ so I appreciate that.”

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10. Puig Doesn't Understand Designated Driving

Puig Doesn't Understand Designated Driving
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers fans may know that rookie sensation Yasiel Puig has a habit of running through stop signs, but this year he was arrested for other driving-related reasons, Puig was pulled over while doubling the 50 MPH speed limit. He was also without proof of insurance, and explained that he was serving as a designated driver at the time. Hey, at least nobody was driving drunk.

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9. Miggy Wants Blood

Miggy Wants Blood
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera writes the word “sangre” on the tape he uses to wrap his wrists. This Spanish word, meaning “blood,” is what Miggy plays for, according to the man himself.

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8. Tiger's Long History of Awesomeness

Tiger's Long History of Awesomeness
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After Tiger Woods' recent falling-out of the audience's good graces, one could be forgiven for forgetting about his insane skill level. At five years old, Tiger was featured in Golf Digest, and at only two years old, he putted against Bob Hope on the “Mike Douglas Show.”

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7. Rodgers Shows Sunny Side

Rodgers Shows Sunny Side
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Apparently shredding secondaries isn't the only thing Aaron Rodgers enjoys. In 2011, the Green Bay Packers QB started “Suspended Sunrise Recordings” with an old friend to further his career in music.

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6. Jimmie's Joy Ride

Jimmie's Joy Ride
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Johnson has achieved all-time greatness in NASCAR, but one incident with a different mode of transport earned him a broken wrist. During a celebrity golf tournament, Johnson was seen “surfing” atop his golf cart before falling and injuring himself. The driver later admitted to the press that a little bit of booze may have been involved, presumably while blushing and grinning from ear to ear.

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5. Pedroia Was Always A Winner

Pedroia Was Always A Winner
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Pedroia and his Boston Red Sox are leading the charge into playoff baseball this year, and it won't be the first time for Pedroia. Along with winning the Series in 2007, Pedroia's childhood team was also one game away from an appearance in the Little League World Series.

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4. Rose's Reverent Jersey

Rose's Reverent Jersey
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Rose's No. 1 Bulls jersey is the fifth highest-selling jersey in the sport, but Rose will always keep a different jersey close to his heart. In high school, Rose wore No. 25 to commemorate Ben Wilson, a fellow ball player who was murdered just one day before graduation.

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3. Peyton Loves the Kids

Peyton Loves the Kids
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Once he's off the playing field, Peyton Manning proves that he has a big heart to go with that big head of his. His charitable efforts impressed St. Vincent's Children's Hospital in Indianapolis so much, they renamed the hospital in his honor. Manning also contributed close to 30,000 pounds of supplies to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, his home town.

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2. Rafa's Remarkable Charity

Rafa's Remarkable Charity
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we're talking about good Samaritans, let's not ignore the great work Rafael Nadal has done. The Rafa Nadal Foundation is a non-profit charity group dedicated to improving the lives of children and young adults in need through sports and education.

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1. Mo's Legacy Continues

Mo's Legacy Continues
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Mariano Rivera is not only the greatest closer of all time, he's also one of the greatest athlete humanitarians of all time. Mo is constantly getting involved with charity, namely his own; The Mariano Rivera Foundation is dedicated to providing underprivileged children with good educations. He donated $627,500 to charity in 2010 alone.