All in the Family: Famous Sibling Duos in Sports Today
by Vicki Santillano
Siblings, particularly those who are close in age, almost always compete with each other for supremacy in one way or another. The majority of us can keep our own sibling rivalries mostly under wraps, but famous folks don’t have that luxury, especially in the sports industry. They’ve got the entire public comparing them to their brothers and sisters and constantly trying to figure out who comes out on top.
As if spending their formative years fighting for the remote control or the last cookie in the jar weren’t enough, these athletes have to spend their adult lives trying to stay one step ahead as well. But while that probably makes for some tense family functions once in a while, it always makes for a more interesting game (even more so when they go head to head).
Peyton and Eli Manning
The acorns didn’t fall far from the tree in the Manning clan: their dad, Archie, was an NFL quarterback, and now Peyton and Eli are quarterbacks for the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants, respectively. The eldest, Peyton, is one of the best players on the field today. He has a record-breaking four MVP awards, was named player of the decade by Fox Sports, and took the Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2006. Eli’s rise to fame has been a little rockier than his brother’s, though he did get a Super Bowl ring and an MVP award of his own in 2007 after defeating the favored Patriots. The Colts and the Giants have played against each other twice since the Mannings entered the league—Peyton trumped his little brother both times. But they seem to get along well, or at least well enough to make commercials together.
Venus and Serena Williams
Currently holding the number one (Serena) and number three (Venus) positions on the Sony Ericcson WTA Tour singles ranking, these sisters are easily two of the best and most famous female tennis players in the world right now. Venus, the older sister, made her professional debut in 1994, and Serena followed suit a year later. Venus dominated the ’97 US Open, becoming the first African American woman to do so since the 1950s. Serena came up big a year later, and has since given her sister a run for her money in terms of court prowess and lightning-fast serves. They’ve competed directly more than twenty times, and Serena has edged out her sister only slightly in terms of wins. She earned her thirteenth Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2010, almost doubling Venus’s seven singles titles. But Venus has more Olympic medals than Serena (three, compared with one), so which sister’s better is still debatable. They’ve been switching off as the top-ranked player for years.
Ramon and Pedro Martinez
It’s not hard to tell who’s been the more successful of these lanky baseball pitchers, though they both entered the major leagues with just as much promise. Ramon joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988 and did well until arm injuries (torn cartilage and rotator cuff) significantly hindered his performance. He went to the Boston Red Sox in ’99 and then was with the Pittsburgh Pirates for about a month in 2001, until he decided to retire. The younger Pedro also started with the Dodgers, but they didn’t see his potential and traded him to the Montreal Expos soon after. He’s played for a few teams since then, including the Boston Red Sox and currently the Philadelphia Phillies, and he’s won three Cy Young awards and struck out more than three thousand batters along the way with his trademark fastball. But Ramon had an impressive run before injuries brought him down—he helped win 135 games during his career.
Scott and Rob Niedermayer
Scott played hockey with the New Jersey Devils for years before joining the Anaheim Ducks to play alongside his younger brother, Rob. It proved to be a winning combination in 2007, when the Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup. (Hopefully, that made up for the time Scott and the Devils took down Rob and the Ducks in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.) Scott retired during the summer of 2010 after an eighteen-year career that also included two Olympic gold medals. Rob now plays for the Buffalo Sabres.
Cheryl and Reggie Miller
The entire Miller family is athletic, but Cheryl and her little brother used their childhood prowess on the basketball court to their advantage, scamming kids into playing basketball against them. Once Cheryl hit high school, it was clear she would be one of the greatest female hoops players of all time. She was actually the first woman on the court to dunk, and she remains the only basketball player (male or female) to be chosen as Parade magazine’s All-American four times. After joining the Trojans at USC and winning two NCAA tournament titles (and two MVP awards), she was sidelined by a knee injury and she switched to a successful coaching and sports reporting career instead. Reggie retired in 2005 after eighteen years with the Indiana Pacers, during which time he was known for both his long-range-shooting and trash-talking skills, as well as his unique ability to dominate the game in the fourth quarter (known as “Miller Time”). It’s likely he’ll be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame when he’s eligible, though Cheryl already beat him there in ’95.
Sinead and John Kerr
This ice-dancing duo made headlines during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but it was more for their disturbingly sexy choreography than for their technique. “On the ice, we don’t think of each other as brother and sister,” John told the press. Judging by the way they moved together during the tango and pretended to kiss at one point, that’s probably a safe bet … though no less strange. Sinead and John, who’ve been skating together since 2000, are ranked second in the world by the International Skating Union. They won the European bronze medal in 2009 and placed eighth in Vancouver.
Many kids dream of becoming sports stars someday, but it’s a rare few who can actually make it happen, so the fact that these families produced two sports stars is even more remarkable. It must feel pretty great to be a part of these talented clans. Besides, if you have to share the spotlight, you might as well do it with the ones you love. And if they’re hogging it too much, you can always tattle on them to Mom. Even the best and brightest sports stars have to play a little dirty sometimes.
Photo source: emmettanderson (cc)