14 Athletes Who Grew Up Without Their Biological Fathers

“Daddy issues” are far too common in our society. They affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life and can lead to feelings of abandonment and inadequacy. Of course, people express these feelings in different ways and some choose isolation, anger or an obsession with work as ways to cope.

A person’s background also has a lot to do with how well they may fare in professional sports. There are exceptions to this rule, but according to the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, studies show that African American children who come from low-income families are 37% less likely to make it into the NBA. African American athletes who come from single parent homes are 18% less likely to be drafted by the NBA. Among White players, 75% of aspiring athletes who come from low-income families are less likely to get into the NBA than there middle or high-class peers. This indicates that growing up in a loving home, preferably one where two parents are present, has a lot to do with an athlete’s drive, work ethic and self-accomplishment.

In many instances, families who are struggling to make ends meet are those in which the father is not present. As children grow and witness the hardship that their custodial parent endures, this could lead to feelings of resentment that are played out in various aspects, even when the child reaches adulthood. This may be the reason that some athletes who are in the top of their fields face legal and relationship issues in their personal lives. When the roar of the fans dies down, many athletes have to deal with the reality that there are serious emotional and psychological factors that they must deal with in order to become healthy and happy adults.

Here are 15 well-known athletes who have daddy issues.

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14 Kevin Durant

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Basketball player Kevin Durant’s father deserted the family when Durant was about a year old. The couple would later officially divorce. The Oklahoma City Thunder player was born in Washington, D.C. and despite his family troubles, he was able to excel in basketball at a young age. He played with the Amateur Athletic Union in the Maryland area for some time, and even played with other athletes who would eventually end up in the NBA as well, such as Ty Lawson and Michael Beasley. He was also the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2006 and was named the second-best high school prospect that same year.

13 Mike Tyson

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Former boxer Mike Tyson has had a sordid past, to say the least. His birth father is Purcell Tyson, who is from Jamaica. However, Tyson grew up knowing Jimmy Kirkpatrick as his dad. Kirkpatrick was a talented baseball player and had a son before he met Tyson’s mother and began a relationship with her. Kirkpatrick was well-known in the local pool halls and spent time hanging out in the streets. Around the time Mike Tyson was born, Jimmy Kirkpatrick abandoned Tyson’s mother and she was left to raise him on her own. Tyson’s mother passed away when he was 16 and he was left in the care of Cus D’Amato, who became his legal guardian.

12 LeBron James

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James was born to a single mother, Gloria James, who was 16 at the time of his birth. His birth father, Anthony McClelland, abandoned his mother as soon as he found out she was pregnant. He and his mother moved to several violent and low-income neighborhoods in Akron as James’ mother tried to find a steady job. After some time, Gloria realized that her son needed to grow in a stable environment and she sent LeBron to live with Frank Walker and his family. From that point, LeBron was in a stable environment and blossomed into the star he's become today.

11 Shaquille O’Neal

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The 7 foot 1 inch former basketball player enjoyed a lucrative career before his retirement and he's now an analyst for Inside the NBA. Shaquille’s birth father was also a basketball player, but struggled with drug addiction and was arrested for drug possession. His father spent time in prison when Shaquille was an infant and when he was released, he signed over his parental rights to O’Neal’s stepfather, Phillip Harrison. The retired athlete has not expressed any interest in developing a relationship with him. He even expressed his feeling for his birth father in his song Biological Didn't Bother by saying “Phil is my father.”

10 Lance Armstrong

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Lance Armstrong unfortunately made headlines when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to achieve his many athletic accomplishments, which includes winning seven Tour de France titles. The former athlete didn’t have much interaction with his father when he was a child, since Armstrong’s father left when he was two. Lance Armstrong’s father also has two other children. Later, his mother married Terry Keith Armstrong, who officially adopted Lance.

9 Alex Rodriguez

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New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez was abandoned by his father at the age of nine. Before his father left, the family moved to the Dominican Republic from New York (Alex’s birthplace). The Rodriguez family then moved to Miami, which is the point where his father left the family. Rodriguez said he only spoke to his father again the day after the Mariners drafted him in 1993. When asked about it, Rodriguez has this to say: "To this day, I still don't really know how a man could do that to his family: turn his back."

8 Michael Oher

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Michael Oher is the real-life inspiration who was the subject of the movie The Blind Side. Oher was raised as a foster child, as he was one of 12 children born to his mother, who was a drug addict. On top of that, his father was frequently in jail. Sadly, when Oher was in the 12th grade, his father was murdered in prison. The happy ending for this story is that Oher was adopted into a loving family after being homeless for some time and cites this change in his life as one of the reasons for his professional and personal success.

7 Priest Holmes

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Priest Holmes is a former running back for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens. He actually never met his father and saw the man for the first time at his funeral. Although Priest carries his father’s surname and was born in Arkansas, he was raised in San Antonio and was raised by his mother and stepfather. Once he became a teenager, Priest Holmes started spending his summers in Detroit, working for his grandfather’s lawn care service company. Spending this time working with men who were much older than him taught him the work ethic that made him successful in the league.

6 Ricky Williams

Ricky Williams, who has several sisters (one of which is his twin), was born to married teenage parents. The family was middle class, but they faced financial difficulty when Williams’ father left the family. Ricky was five years old at the time and took on the role of “man of the house” by cooking for his sisters and putting them to bed. Williams suffered through a considerable amount of hurt and anger as a result of having to grow up too fast, and without a father. During Williams’ ESPN film Run Ricky Run, the subject of sexual abuse is discussed. Ricky Williams was “sexually annoyed” by his father and during the filmed interview, Williams’ father doesn’t deny this.

5 Ray Lewis

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Ray Lewis was actually born Ray Jenkins and was a star wrestler in high school, just like his father. Unfortunately, Ray Lewis’ dad wasn’t around for most of his life because he was incarcerated for drug-related offenses. Frustrated by his father, Ray decided to change his surname to Ray Lewis, which was the last name of his mother's boyfriend. Lewis himself is now a father of six. He has had his share of serious legal trouble in his personal life, but has openly shared how his Christian faith has helped him to attempt to come to terms with some of the negative things he has death with.

4 Luis Suarez

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Luis Suarez is a talented football (soccer to Americans) player from Uruguay. His family moved to Montevideo when Suarez was seven and he learned to play soccer in the neighborhood, which later contributed to his professional success. Five years later, his father left the family. Critics have stated that the poverty his family experienced as a result of limited income was the source of his aggressive episodes on the soccer field. Suraez was such a talented athlete that he played for Uruguay’s National soccer team 34 times before he went to Europe to play soccer at the age of 19.

3 Larry Bird

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Larry Bird was born in Indiana and his mother worked two jobs to support him and his five siblings, even though his father was in the home. His mother and father divorced while he was in high school. Sadly, this caused Bird’s father committed suicide. As a way to escape from the stress and sadness of his family life, Larry Bird focused on basketball. He became a star player at Springs Valley High School and was offered a basketball scholarship from Indiana State before joining the NBA.

2 Jackie Robinson

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Jackie Robinson, who passed away in 1972, is still known as one of the greatest players in baseball. Robinson was born in Georgia and was the youngest of five children. His father abandoned the family when he was young, because he was having an affair with the neighbour’s wife. That’s when Jackie, his mother and his siblings moved to California. The family was very poor, largely due to the absence of Robinson’s father. However, Jackie Robinson overcame this difficulty to become one of the world’s greatest sports heroes.

1 Colin Kaepernick

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Kaepernick’s mother was single and didn’t have much money when he was born in 1987, asis father was not around. Since Colin’s mother didn’t feel that she could properly care for him on her own, she placed him for adoption. A couple by the name of Rick and Teresa Kaepernick became Colin’s adoptive parents. The couple already had a son and daughter, but wanted to have another son, since they had already lost two of their boys to heart defects. Thanks to Rick and Teresa, Colin found a proper home to be raised and was able to become the man he is today because of it.

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