15 Athletes Who Were Abandoned By Their Parent(s)

Athletes are very interesting people. Star athletes are what makes the sport great and more watchable. For example, LeBron James, who is probably one of the best players in the NBA. Larry Bird is an all-time Celtics great and currently President of Basketball Operations for the Indiana Pacers. Some of the big name athletes worked hard throughout their high school/college days to get to where they are today.

A lot of athletes sometimes had a rough upbringing. Sometimes the parents of the athlete abandoned them. It destroys the child not growing up with a parent and other times it makes them stronger. Say what you want about LaVar Ball being obnoxious and way too involved in his kids' professional lives, but at least he's present in his kids' lives! Too many athletes seem to have stories about having to grow up without their biological father or their biological mother, yet somehow had to learn to be men.

They use the fact that their parent left them as inspiration to be better and prove that parent wrong. As you will see in this list, many athletes came from broken families and soared to fame such as LeBron James, Alex Rodriguez, Larry Bird, and many others.



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Chad Ochocinco loves attention.Why? He didn't have an easy upbringing. Chad was raised by his grandmother while his mother Paula was too busy into partying and many addictions. Her unwillingness to be a parent to Chad was very hurtful to him, and left him confused. To this day though, he tries to form a relationship with the womn who abandoned him. The mother and son appeared on the show, Marriage Bootcamp: Family Edition, to talk about their problems. Chad wanted to work on the rocky relationship while Paula was having none of it, and threw a temper tantrum every time her history of being a bad mother came up. Chad his trying to be an active father to his kids because he knows how it feels to not feel wanted.


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LeBron's birth father, Anthony McClelland, abandoned LeBron when his mother Gloria was pregnant with him. McClelland was not interested in being a parent at all and 16-year-old Gloria had to raise LeBron on her own. LeBron, however, as we all know, would grow up to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. McClelland had an extensive criminal record. LeBron would have to move constantly because his mother couldn't find a steady job. James has made a name for himself, and, using his mother as inspiration to believe in himself.

LeBron has won three NBA Championships and is a future Hall Of Famer. He has won two championships with the Miami Heat and one with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron's childhood was a struggle, but when playing the sport he loves, he is the complete opposite.



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Lance Armstrong's birth father left his mother when he was young. His mother was 17 years old at the time of giving birth to him. She had to work several jobs to try and give Lance everything he needed to give him a normal childhood. His mother would buy him a bicycle and that would turn out to be the best gift he would ever receive. Armstrong would win the Tour De France seven years in a row, only to be caught for using steroids that whole time and was stripped from the winnings. He did survive cancer in 2005, which his mother is very proud of. Lance, though, to this day, will not talk to his birth father who abandoned him when he was younger.


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Alex was born in New York. After his birth, his family moved to the Dominican Republic. That's when Rodriguez would start playing baseball before moving back to Miami. That's also when Victor and Lourdes separated, forcing Lourdes to raise Alex on her own. Rodriguez to this day, will still not talk to the man who abandoned him when he was younger. Alex has been very successful playing baseball and is now an analyst for Fox Sports. He's won a World Series and has made millions. Rodriguez said in an interview with the Seattle Times, "Dad left us when I was 9. What did I know back then? I thought he was coming back. I thought he had gone to the store or something. But he never came back. It still hurts."



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Michael Oher's story inspired the movie "The Blind Side", a movie Oher actually claims he doesn't like, due to the way he's portrayed. He had parents that completely abandoned him when he was just a baby. Michael was in foster care as an infant because his birth mother, Denise, was a jail bird drug addict and Michael Williams was also in jail. Michael Oher would be adopted by the Tuohy family and he would go on to be successful in the NFL.

Oher won his first Super Bowl title with the Baltimore Ravens, and his birth mother mother spoke shortly after that saying she was "proud of him" and that she loved him. Michael Oher doesn't really have a relationship with his birth mother like he does with his adoptive mother, Leigh Tuohy.


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Ricky Williams was raised by his mother along with his two sisters. His father, Errick, had left the family. In a 2010 documentary Ricky's mom Sandy said, "When Ricky grew up, he wanted to be a policeman so he could shoot his father and get away with it. He believed a policeman can shoot someone and not get in trouble." Ricky wouldn't be a policeman, but he would be a successful football player in the NFL. He played for the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and the Baltimore Ravens before retiring in 2011.

Even though his father abandoned him, Williams was still able to make something out of himself and make some good money doing what he loved. To this day Ricky still doesn't talk to his dad, Errick.



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Sydney Leroux is an Olympic Gold Medalist. Her father, Ray Chadwick, former Major League baseball player, was absent throughout most of Sydney's life. Her mother, Sandi, had to raise her daughter alone. Sydney would grow up to be one of the best soccer players in the world. She won at the 2015 Women's World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics. Her father Ray made an appearance at one of her games in 2015. The LA Times reported that it's her choice not to speak with her father.

She wanted to play in the United States because she had a better shot at winning rather than playing in Canada. She told the LA Times in 2015, " I believe in myself. I wanted to put myself in a position where I could become better and I could play on the best team in the world, which I still think is the United States."


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Kevin Durant's father abandoned him when was he was just an infant. Durant was raised by his mother, Wanda, and his grandmother, Barbara Davis. Durant would not let his rough upbringing stop him, even when he was young. He was a freshman at the University of Texas when he won College Player Of The Year. Durant left college to play in the NBA and was awarded Rookie Of The Year in 2008. He was also voted MVP in 2014. Durant would also win his first NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors. This was after his last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Wayne Pratt abandoned Kevin when he was younger. Durant eventually reconnected with his father when he got older, but obviously he's not very close with him. His mom is indeed the real MVP in KD's life.



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Heidi Russo was 19 years old when she had Colin. At the time, she was alone and poor and gave him up for adoption. He would then get adopted by Rick and Teresa Kapernick and have two other siblings, Devon and Kyle. He would play football, baseball, and basketball in high school. Kapernick would graduate high school with a 4.o GPA. He would then play football for the University of Nevada. He was also drafted by the San Francisco 49ERS in 2011, and was released for kneeling during the National Anthem.

Heidi Russo scolded Colin on Twitter over the National Anthem protest last year saying, "@Kaepernick7...There's ways to make change w/o disrespecting & bringing shame to the very country & family who afforded you so many blessings." Colin doesn't want to have anything to do with his birth parents at all.


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After Jackie was born, his father abandoned the family while living in Georgia. His mother, Mallie, moved to California where she would raise Jackie and his four siblings. Robinson, as we know, would really make something out of himself. He was the first black baseball player to ever play in the Majors and the number 42 is retired throughout the Major Leagues. Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers making his debut in 1947. People would call him the greatest baseball player who ever lived. Robinson used his father abandoning him as inspiration to make something out of himself. He is in the Baseball Hall Of Fame and a six-time all-star.



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Shaq's father was in prison and abandoned Shaq when he was an infant. His mother, Lucille, re-married an Army Sergeant in the Army Reserve named Phillip Harrison. Shaq, did eventually reconnect with his father. His father was a high school basketball player. That's where Shaq got the skills to be such a dominant player in the NBA. He was drafted in 1992, being the number one pick overall by the Orlando Magic. Shaq would then become a Los Angeles Laker where he would win three NBA Championships. His fourth NBA Championship would come in 2006 with the Miami Heat.

When Shaw finally met his father, Joseph Toney, he was pushing 70 and extremely nervous to meet his son who had grown into such an icon. Shaq simply said to him:

“I’m not mad at you,” said O’Neal. “I don’t hate you.”


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Elebert Jackson left the family the day Ray Lewis was born. His mother, Sunseria Smith, who was only 15 years old, had to work three jobs to support Ray. Lewis also had younger siblings, which meant he would have to be the man of the house. That didn't stop Ray Lewis from doing what he loved...playing football. Ray Lewis would leave in his junior year at Miami to play in the NFL. He won two Super Bowls with the Baltimore Ravens. He claims in his audio-biography that his father is in his DNA only. Ray's father would never take the time to get to know him as a person. Lewis also says the only person in his family that has grown up with a father is his son.



Suarez was 12 years old when his parents separated. His mother had to raise him on her own and always encouraged him to make something out of himself. Suarez wasn't that good in school. His main focus was being a professional footballer. He was motivated by his family situation to take up the sport and try to make it a career. Suarez, even to this day, is still one of the best strikers in the world, and was the European Top Scorer. In his career he has played professional football for Nacional, Groningen, Ajax Liverpool, and Barcelona. So despite his father having nothing to do with him, he still made out good. Suarez has also won over twenty awards in his career.


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Larry Bird was an all time great for the Boston Celtics. His mother, Georgia, and Claude Bird divorced, and Claude was in and out of Larry's life. His mother had to take care of Larry and his five siblings on her own, and she also had to work two jobs. When Larry was in high school his father Claude committed suicide. Larry used basketball as a distraction to all the family drama in his life. His mother, who helped him, and was the inspiration he needed to get him threw life and succeed. Larry Bird was a 12 time NBA All-Star and is Hall Of Famer. Larry had a rough childhood with his dad abandoning him, but, that didn't stop him from doing what he loved; playing basketball. Larry was a two time NBA Finals MVP and a three time regular season MVP.



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Mike Tyson never knew his biological father, Purcell Tyson, who was from Jamaica. Tyson was only two years old when his father abandoned him. Instead, he would call a man named Jimmy Kirkpatrick his father. Kirkpatrick also left his mother, Lorna Mae, and she was forced to raise Tyson and his siblings alone. Tyson would have a rough childhood saying in a recent interview that he, "was picked up by a man while walking down the street in Brooklyn." The man abused Tyson and he was bullied. After Tyson's mother died, his boxing trainer and manager was named his legal guardian. Tyson eventually grew to be the best boxer in the world, setting all kinds of boxing records. Tyson would also have several run ins with the law, but took out his frustrations in the boxing ring.


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