February 26, 2024

Following in their footsteps: Best father-son combos in sports


Mike Shanahan, offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers at the time, and wide receiver Ed McCaffrey celebrated their first Lombardi Trophy together in a 49-26 Super Bowl XXIX victory over the San Diego Chargers.

The two would win three Super Bowls together, with the 49ers and the Denver Broncos, throughout their careers.

Now, 29 years later, they will watch as their sons try to win their first Lombardi Trophy together on Feb. 11, against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and running back Christian McCaffrey look to make history with the 49ers. They can win the franchise’s first Super Bowl since their fathers won in 1994.

If San Francisco beats Kansas City, the McCaffreys will be just the second father-and-son duo to win Super Bowls as players with the same franchise, joining Steve and Zak DeOssie, who each won a title with the New York Giants.

Kyle and Mike Shanahan have already become the first father-son duo to lead the same franchise to Super Bowl appearances and would thus become the first to win, as well, if the 49ers can come out on top vs. the Chiefs. The Shanahans have already become just the second father-son duo in the NFL, NHL, MLB or NBA to each make the championship round in their respective sport, joining Lester and Lynn Patrick, who coached the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins.

A win would make them the first father-son duo in the four leagues’ history to each win a title as head coach.

It would be a miraculous feat for the families and the storied franchise if it were to play out, but these two are not the only famous father-son duos who have excelled.

Here is a look at the most successful father-son combos in sports history.


Multiple sports

Deion Sanders/Deion Sanders Jr./Shilo Sanders/Shedeur Sanders

Father’s accomplishments: Deion played 14 seasons in the NFL. He was drafted No. 5 overall in 1989 by the Atlanta Falcons after being named a two-time All-American at Florida State. Sanders was named a Pro Bowler eight times, with 53 interceptions throughout his career and two Super Bowl wins. He also played nine seasons of professional baseball for the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. He famously played in a game for the Falcons against the Miami Dolphins, then immediately flew to Pittsburgh to dress for his baseball game with the Braves against the Pirates in the NLCS. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

How his sons followed: Deion Sanders Jr. was a two-star athlete in the 2012 class, signing with SMU as a wide receiver and kick returner. As a sophomore kick returner, Sanders Jr. was named a second-team All-American Athletic Conference selection. Shilo was the No. 287-ranked prospect in the 2019 class and signed as a cornerback with South Carolina.

Shilo and Shedeur were coached by their father during their college football seasons with the Jackson State Tigers and Colorado Buffaloes.


MLB

Ken Griffey Sr./Ken Griffey Jr.

Father’s accomplishments: Ken Griffey Sr. played 19 seasons in the major leagues, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds. He was part of the Big Red Machine that won World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. Griffey Sr. was a three-time All-Star and finished his career with a .296 batting average, 152 home runs and 859 RBIs. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1980 All-Star Game and has been inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame.

How his son followed: Ken Griffey Jr. also had a long career, playing 22 seasons in the big leagues, including 13 with the Seattle Mariners and nine with Cincinnati. Griffey Jr. was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016. He is seventh all time with 630 career home runs, was a 13-time All-Star and won 10 Gold Gloves for his play in center field. He was the American League MVP in 1997 and led the AL in home runs four times during his career.

In 1990, Griffey Sr. and Griffey Jr., both playing for the Mariners, made history when they became the first father-son duo to hit back-to-back home runs in a game.

Bobby Bonds/Barry Bonds

Father’s accomplishments: Bobby Bonds played the majority of his 14 seasons with the San Francisco Giants and became just the second player to hit 300 career home runs and steal 300 bases, joining Willie Mays. He set records for most times leading off a game with a home run in a season (11) and in a career (35) — both of which have since been broken. Bonds was a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner.

How his son followed: Barry Bonds played 22 seasons, mostly with the Giants, and was a seven-time National League MVP. Bonds holds the records for most career home runs, with 762, and most home runs in a season, with 73. He was a 14-time All-Star, 12-time Silver Slugger Award winner and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner. Bonds tied his father for the most seasons with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases, with five. He also holds the MLB records for walks (2,558) and intentional walks (688) in a career.

Sandy Alomar/Roberto Alomar/Sandy Alomar Jr.

Father’s accomplishments: Sandy Alomar Sr. competed in 15 seasons and could play all infield and outfield positions. He was an All-Star in 1970 and played a full 162-game season that year and in 1971. Alomar Sr. was a talented bunter and aggressive on the basepaths, totaling 227 stolen bases in his career, including 39 in 1971.

How his sons followed: Twelve-time All-Star Roberto Alomar was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. He won World Series championships with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. He won more Gold Gloves (10) than any other second baseman and finished his 17-year career with a .300 batting average, 2,724 hits and 210 home runs. Sandy Alomar Jr. was the first rookie catcher to start an All-Star Game, and he won Rookie of the Year and a Gold Glove Award in 1990. Alomar Jr. was named an All-Star six times during his 20-year career and had a 30-game hitting streak in 1997.

Cecil Fielder/Prince Fielder

Father’s accomplishments: Cecil Fielder was a three-time All-Star and won a World Series title with the New York Yankees in 1996. In 1990, he was the first player since George Foster in 1977 to hit at least 50 home runs in a season. Fielder led the American League in home runs in 1990 and 1991 and in RBIs from 1990 to ’92. He hit 319 career home runs, recorded 1,008 RBIs and was a two-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award.

How his son followed: Fielder was the youngest player (23) to hit 50 home runs in a season. Prince Fielder was a six-time All-Star and won the Home Run Derby twice — once as an NL All-Star and once as an AL All-Star. He totaled 319 career home runs, the same number as his father, and drove in 1,028 runs. Fielder was a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner and the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2015.

Cecil and Prince Fielder are the only father-son duo to each hit 50 home runs in a season.

Vladimir Guerrero/Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Father’s accomplishments: Guerrero spent 16 seasons playing in the MLB for the Montreal Expos, Anaheim Angels, Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles. He was a nine-time All-Star, the 2004 American League MVP and an eight-time winner of the Silver Slugger award. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 and finished his career with 2,590 hits.

How his son followed: Guerrero Jr. signed with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 and made his major league debut in 2019. He hit 48 home runs in the 2021 season and became the second father-son duo to hit 40 home runs in a season, joining Prince and Cecil Fielder to accomplish that feat. Guerrero has since been a three-time All-Star and a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner for the Blue Jays.


NBA

Dell Curry/Stephen Curry/Seth Curry

Father’s accomplishments: Dell Curry retired as the Charlotte Hornets ‘ career scoring leader (9,839 points) and ranked first in 3-pointers made (929). Curry was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1994 and averaged 11.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in his 16-year career.

How his sons followed: Stephen Curry has led the Golden State Warriors to four NBA championships and been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice. Curry is a 10-time All-Star and was the NBA scoring champion in 2016 and 2021. He holds the NBA record for most made 3-pointers in a regular season, with 402, and most consecutive regular-season games with a made 3-pointer, with 157. Seth Curry was a two-time NBA D-League All-Star and has spent time with several NBA teams. He averaged 12.8 points over 70 games in 2016-17 with the Dallas Mavericks.

Doc Rivers/Austin Rivers

Father’s accomplishments: As a player, Doc Rivers was known for his defense, but he averaged a double-double during the 1986-87 season, with 12.8 points and 10.0 assists per game. He was an NBA All-Star in 1988 and played with four teams during his 13-year career. Rivers was named Coach of the Year in 2000 with the Orlando Magic and led the Boston Celtics to an NBA title as their coach in 2008. He was the head coach of the LA Clippers from 2013-2020 and Philadelphia 76ers from 2020-2023. He was announced as the Milwaukee Bucks head coach in January 2024.

How his son followed: In 2015, Austin Rivers was traded to the Clippers and became the first NBA player to play for his father. Rivers has averaged 9.2 points per game in his seven-year career, including 15.1 PPG in 2017-18 with the Clippers. He then played for the Wizards, Rockets, Knicks, Nuggets and the Timberwolves.

Mychal Thompson/Klay Thompson

Father’s accomplishments: Mychal Thompson, the No. 1 pick in the 1978 NBA draft, won back-to-back NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1987 and ’88. Thompson was on the All-Rookie team in 1979 and went on to average 13.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in his career. He averaged a double-double in 1981-82, with 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.

How his son followed: Klay Thompson has won four NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors. Mychal and Klay Thompson became just the fourth father-son duo to each win an NBA title as a player and the first to each win back-to-back championships. Klay is a five-time All-Star, was named to the All-Rookie team in 2012 and won the 3-Point Contest in 2016. He holds the NBA playoff record for most 3-pointers made in a game, with 11.

Joe “Jellybean” Bryant/Kobe Bryant

Father’s accomplishments: Joe “Jellybean” Bryant played eight seasons in the NBA before heading to Europe and playing seven seasons with teams in Italy. He scored 53 points in a game twice during the 1987-88 season with Pistoia. Bryant played into his 50s, suiting up for the American Basketball Association.

How his son followed: Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant is fourth in career scoring, with 33,643 points. He played 20 seasons for the Lakers and was named an All-Star 18 times. Bryant was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 and the Finals MVP in 2009 and ’10. He was the NBA scoring champion in 2006 and ’07 and was named to the All-NBA first team 11 times and the All-Defensive first team nine times. Kobe had both his No. 8 and his No. 24 retired by the Lakers.


NFL

Archie Manning/Peyton Manning/Eli Manning

Father’s accomplishments: Archie Manning was a quarterback in the NFL for 13 seasons, mostly with the New Orleans Saints. Despite never leading a team to a winning record, Manning made the Pro Bowl in 1978 and ’79. He threw for 125 touchdowns and rushed for 18 during his career. He has been inducted into the Saints’ Ring of Honor and the Saints’ Hall of Fame.

How his sons followed: Peyton Manning was the first pick in the 1998 NFL draft and holds the NFL records for career passing yards (71,940) and passing touchdowns (539). He is the only starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl for two franchises. A 14-time Pro Bowler, Manning was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player five times and a first-team All-Pro seven times.

Eli Manning was the first pick in the 2004 NFL draft and led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles, earning Super Bowl MVP honors both times. He is a four-time Pro Bowler, ranks sixth in passing yards in NFL history and started 210 consecutive games from 2004 to 2017, the second-longest streak by a quarterback in NFL history.

Howie Long/Chris Long/Kyle Long

Father’s accomplishments: Eight-time Pro Bowl selection Howie Long played his entire 13-year career with the Raiders’ organization. The defensive end helped the Raiders win the Super Bowl in 1984, and he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985. Long finished his career with 84 sacks and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He also made 10 fumble recoveries and two interceptions during his time in the NFL.

How his sons followed: Chris Long was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NFL draft and won back-to-back Super Bowls — with the New England Patriots in 2017 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018. The defensive end recorded 70 sacks in his 11-year career.

Kyle Long, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, was a guard for the Chicago Bears. He was a second-team All-Pro in 2014 and made the All-Rookie team in 2013.

He returned from his 2019 retirement with a one-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs for the 2021 season, but did not play due to injuries.

Clay Matthews Jr./Clay Matthews III/Casey Matthews

Father’s accomplishments: Clay Matthews Jr. played 19 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Cleveland Browns. He appeared in 278 games, the most by a linebacker, and recorded 1,561 tackles, 69.5 sacks and 16 interceptions in his career. Matthews was a four-time Pro Bowler and was first-team All-Pro in 1984, recording 12 sacks that season.

How his sons followed: Clay Matthews III, a six-time Pro Bowler, helped the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl title after the 2010 season. The linebacker was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and totaled 91.5 sacks, 17 forced fumbles and six interceptions in his 11-year career.

Linebacker Casey Matthews played from 2011 to ’14 for the Philadelphia Eagles and recorded 2.5 sacks.


NHL

Bobby Hull/Brett Hull

Father’s accomplishments: Bobby Hull received the Hart Memorial Trophy twice as the NHL’s most valuable player and earned the Art Ross Trophy three times as the NHL’s leading points scorer. The left wing won the Stanley Cup in 1961 with the Chicago Blackhawks and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. Hull led the NHL in goals seven times and was the second-leading goal scorer in NHL history, with 610, when he retired. Hull won back-to-back All-Star Game MVP awards in 1970 and ’71.

How his son followed: Brett Hull scored 741 goals in his career, the fourth-highest total in NHL history. The right wing won Stanley Cups in 1999 with the Dallas Stars (including scoring the championship-winning goal) and in 2002 with the Detroit Red Wings. Hull scored at least 50 goals in five consecutive seasons, and his 86 goals in 1990-91 are the third most in a season in NHL history. He was named the NHL’s MVP that season and received the Hart Memorial Trophy. Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, joining his father to become the first father-son duo in the Hall.

Keith Tkachuk/Matthew Tkachuk/Brady Tkachuk

Father’s accomplishments: Keith was selected 19th overall in the 1990 NHL draft and played for 18 years with four different teams. He finished his career with 527 goals and 1,065 points. At the time that he scored his 500th goal, he was just the fourth American-born player to achieve that milestone and was the sixth American-born player with 1,000 points.

How his sons followed: Matthew was selected 6th overall in the 2016 NHL draft by the Calgary Flames, but has since been traded to the Florida Panthers, where he helped lead the team to the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals.

Brady was taken with the 4th overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Ottawa Senators. He was named the team’s captain in 2021 and has scored 147 goals throughout his career.


Auto racing

Dale Earnhardt/Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Father’s accomplishments: Dale Earnhardt won 76 Winston Cup races, including the 1998 Daytona 500. Earnhardt claimed seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships, tying Richard Petty for the most all time. It was 22 years before Jimmie Johnson matched the accomplishment in 2016. Earnhardt died as a result of a collision on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 and was posthumously inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2010.

How his son followed: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won 26 Cup series races, including the Daytona 500 twice (2004, 2014). He had 260 top-10 finishes in Cup races in his career. Junior was a fan favorite, winning the Most Popular Driver award 15 times. He was the Busch Series champion in 1998 and ’99 before being named NASCAR Rookie of the Year in 2000. He is retired and a broadcaster now.


Next generation

LeBron James/Bronny James/Bryce James:

Father’s accomplishments: James has won four NBA titles and four NBA Finals MVP awards, and he has been named the league’s Most Valuable Player four times. He has been an NBA All-Star 20 times and is the NBA’s career scoring leader.

How his sons followed: Bronny is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound guard for USC. He averaged 13.8 points and 5.5 rebounds throughout high school and was the No. 19 prospect in his recruiting class. He has averaged 5.9 points per game this season for the Trojans.

Bryce is currently a 6-foot-4 forward at Sierra Canyon High School in California and is ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2025 class.

Carmelo Anthony/Kiyan Anthony:

Kiyan is the No. 45-ranked prospect in the 2025 class out of Long Island Lutheran High School in New York. He has an offer from Syracuse, where Carmelo played, as well as Florida State, Memphis and a handful of other top programs.

Dikembe Mutombo/Ryan Mutombo:

Ryan followed in his father’s footsteps and plays for Georgetown. He’s a 7-foot-2 center, but plays sparingly for the team.

Penny Hardaway/Jayden Hardaway/Ashton Hardaway:

Both Jayden and Ashton play for their father at Memphis. Jayden is a guard, averaging 2.9 points per game this season, while Ashton is averaging 2.7.

Dajuan Wagner/D.J. Wagner:

D.J. is currently a freshman at Kentucky and is averaging 12 points and 3.7 assists per game this season.

Dennis Rodman/DJ Rodman:

DJ is a 6-foot-6 forward for USC. He is averaging 7.3 points per game and has made 37% of his 3-point shots this season for the Trojans.

Shaquille O’Neal/Shaqir O’Neal:

Shaqir is a 6-foot-8 forward at Texas Southern. He’s averaging 2.2 points per game this season.

Peja Stojakovic/Andrej Stojakovic:

Andrej is in his first season at Stanford and was a McDonald’s All-American out of high school. He’s averaging 8 points per game this season for the Cardinal.

Jerry Rice/Brenden Rice:

Brenden transferred to USC from Colorado prior to the 2023 season and led the Trojans this year in touchdown receptions with 12. He had 791 yards receiving on the year and is now projected as a potential NFL draft pick in April.

Marvin Harrison/Marvin Harrison Jr.:

Marvin won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best wide receiver and finished this season with 1,211 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is projected as a top-10 draft pick this year and is one of the best receiver prospects overall.

Frank Gore Sr./Frank Gore Jr.:

Gore Jr. was No. 32 among all FBS running backs in rush yards this past season with 1,131. He had 10 rushing touchdowns and averaged 4.9 yards per rush.

Emmitt Smith/E.J. Smith:

E.J. has had a slow start to his collegiate career with just 587 rush yards and five touchdowns in three seasons with Stanford. He recently transferred to Texas A&M, however, and he is hoping for a reset with a new coaching staff.


Honorable mentions

Ray Boone/Bob Boone/Bret Boone/Aaron Boone; Felipe Alou/Moises Alou; Tom Gordon/Dee Gordon/Nick Gordon; Rick Barry/Brent Barry/Jon Barry; Bill Walton/Luke Walton; Larry Nance/Larry Nance Jr.; Tim Hardaway/Tim Hardaway Jr.; Bruce Matthews/Jake Matthews/Kevin Matthews; Jackie Slater/Matthew Slater; Gordie Howe/Mark Howe; J.P. Parise/Zach Parise; Peter Stastny/Paul Stastny; Lee Petty/Richard Petty/Kyle Petty; Mario Andretti/Michael Andretti/Jeff Andretti/Marco Andretti; Ken Norton Sr./Ken Norton Jr.; Calvin Hill/Grant Hill; Peter Schmeichel/Kasper Schmeichel



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