Ah, the joy of looking through old photo albums. Half the time you are super embarrassed you looked like that as a child, and other half, your just glad that no one else can see it. Yes, we are talking about that awkward mustache in the bell-bottoms. Or Ms. Collared in the 80s. Or neon on everything in the 80s. If you are a little bit younger, maybe you rocked the multi-colored turtle necks in the 90s or you could have been a double-polo kid in the 2000s. No matter which way you look at it, everyone had their awkward moments as kids, and they are usually encapsulated in a glossy, blurry photograph.
Remember, everyone had their awkward years, even your favorite athletes. I mean, Michael Jordan didn't even make his basketball team when he was a young teenager. So don't feel bad, you just may be a late bloomer. These athletes certainly were, as they clearly grew into something much more than their childhood photos would have indicated.
Break out the old photo album, peel back the plastic film, and post an old photo on TBT, because today, we are taking a look at 20 photos of athletes as awkward children that you MUST SEE!
20 LeBron James
Damn, look at mini-Bill Cosby minus all the rape accusations. The King of Cleveland was looking fly back in the day, rockin' the early '90s pullover sweater with a fly turquoise turtleneck. Oh yeah, did I mention the baller elephant little 'Bron is holding. If you were a 90s kid, you had the same damn elephant, and don't go and play it off like you didn't. You can even tell from the shape of his head that his future hairline would be pretty much non-existent.
Who would have ever though this wannabe Huxtable from Akron would go on to win three NBA championships, and numerous accolades that we won't even list since there are so many. Kudos to you LeBron, kept it styling while you were a youngin' and dominating the NBA now!
19 Anna Kournikova
She bangs! She bangs! Oh, baby when she moves, she moves! Oh no, I'm thinking of the wrong latin singer and the wrong definition of bangs. Clearly, the former tennis player, Anna Kournikova was mostly known for her looks, but she had the classic Russian bangs going on as a young child. Then, later on in life, she was getting it on with Enrique Iglesias. And now, she just looks bangin'.
Kournikova grew up in Moscow in the 80s, and was just an energetic kid. Luckily, her parents enrolled her in a tennis program where she excelled, and eventually was good enough to become pro. That's all people really need to know about Anna, she was only famous for her looks anyway! Don't believe me, just check out this music video, we'll wait four minutes until you get back.
18 Drew Brees
Who dat? No, seriously, who the hell is this? Everyone on the internet says this a childhood photo of Drew Brees, but they have gotta be wrong. Alright, I believe everyone, but it looks sketchy! In this picture, Brees is definitely the coach's son. He's already got a little vein developing on his bicep, probably was a really dirty player on the court, and hustled even if his team was down by 30 with three minutes to play. But hey, Brees turned out to be a pretty damn good QB in the NFL, so you can't blame him.
Drew was born and raised in Austin, TX to a prominent lawyer and attorney. Both his parents were athletes, and clearly the gene ran in the family. His brother even played baseball at Baylor. It's been said that Brees didn't play tackle football until high school though, but thank God he did, or else Saints fans would still be wearing bags over their heads!
17 Larry Fitzgerald
Are my eyes deceiving me of is that DJ Jazzy Larry? Damn, Fitzgerald is killing the early 90s look. Baller watch, long white Tee, earthtone suede vest, gold chain, the dude is killing it! Fitzgerald grew up in Minnesota, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. He was drafted number three overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2004 draft, and after ten Pro Bowls, he's a sure fire first-ballot hall of famer.
But before his record setting NFL career, Fitzgerald was just a goofy as kid. He looks like he could have been in the Fresh Prince. You know what, after I finish writing this, I'm going to head to the thrift shop and see if I can pick up one of those baller vests. Damn, that boy is stylin'!
16 Blake Griffin
Slap a retro Instagram filter onto any current photo of Blake Griffin, and you have an old photo of Blake Griffin. He has barely changed at all over the course of the years, but his game sure has broadened. When he came into the NBA, Griffin was purely an athletic power forward, but he has developed a nice jump shot and can now also play behind the arc. An essential skill in today's game.
Anyway, back to Griffin's childhood. Blake was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he played several sports, following in his father's footsteps. He was even home-schooled until the age of 14! He went on to dominate with the Oklahoma Sooners, and is even famous enough to be on our list of awkward child photos of athletes.
15 Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel even looked smug as a child. Just look at that conniving face! It screams "I'm going to have success at the college football level but make several wrong choices socially that end up being my demise in the NFL." Every kid knows these type of photos. Some washed up photographer happens to be in Walmart from 1-5 on a Sunday and families line up to get awkward photographs they can one-day laugh at. Honestly, there is nothing I don't love about his picture.
Manziel was born to a wealthy oilfield family in Texas, and sports were his life growing up. A lot of people don't know this, but Manziel actually started at receiver in high school, and didn't start at QB until his sophomore year. Everyone knows that he was a star at Texas A&M, yet went downhill professionally with his addiction to alcohol and partying.
14 The Williams Sisters
I will say it, the Williams sisters are by far and away the most dominant duo in all of sports. Combined, they have 30 singles titles, 14 doubles titles, and have been dominating the ATP over the past two decades. But right now, we get to make fun of them in their awkward picture. Venus, what the hell are those braids? I know it was the 90s, but you straight up look like a "Crazy Eyes" childhood flashback from Orange is the New Black. And Serena, it looks like you had the mini-braids too. I just am looking into a telescope of the past with this pic! Who would have ever thought Venus and Serena would be household names. Congrats to you two, but damn, I'm sure you have enough money to hire a stylist now!
13 The Manning Brothers
Oh god! I was just going to include Peyton and Eli in this picture, but we can't forget about Cooper. Actually, we can forget about Cooper, he never had a career. What the hell is he doing to Peyton's and Eli's ears? That's borderline assault in several states! But come on Cooper, this is honestly just awkward as hell.
Let's focus on Eli here. The youngest of the three, probably had everyone's fingers in his ears growing up, but had arguably the most success out of all the Mannings. Both him and Peyton won two Super Bowls, but Peyton's last one was mainly due to Denver's staunch defense. We'll just have to wait another decade or so until we see more Mannings in the NFL!
12 Vince Wilfork
Before Vince was clogging up traffic and drawing double teams on the d-line, he was just a kid from Boynton Beach, Florida. Not only was Wilfork an outstanding football player, he held records for his high school in the throwing events within Track & Field. In 2001, the big defensive tackle went to the University of Miami where he was ranked the number two defensive tackle in the country by his Junior year. After being drafted in the first-round of the 2004 Draft by the New England Patriots, Wilfork dominated for several years at the nose tackle position. He retired at the beginning of the 2017 season!
But this article is about awkward pictures, and man, that shirt is as awkward as it gets. I mean, Vince has barely changed over the years, but I hope his wife chooses his wardrobe now, because that shirt is ugly as all hell!
11 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Is it me, or does Dale Earnhardt Jr. look exactly the same today? I don't think anything has changed with his appearance in the last four decades. Junior was born in Kannapolis, North Carolina in 1974, and has been trying to follow in his father's footsteps ever since. Dale Jr. owned his first car with his older brother, Kerry, at the age of 17, a 1979 Monte Carlo to be in fact.
Many people think that Earnhardt Jr. was never good enough to be on the NASCAR circuit, and only was on due to his father's legacy. Whichever way you think of it, he's never done that well except for a few recent wins. But if this picture of Jr. says anything, it says " I can't wait to make left turns for the rest of my life!"
10 Alexander Ovechkin
Little Ovechkin. I personally am extremely familiar with Russia, and have been there several times, and the only thing that would make this picture of Ovechkin more Russian is bear on a leash and carpet on the walls. Pre-teen Alex is killing it in the throwback Buffalo Sabres varsity jacket. He's not only wearing a little kid's cowboy hat, but makes Michael Myers look tame with how he holds that dagger. Oh yeah, did I mention that he is standing in the Barbie section of a toy store. There is so much going on in this picture, I can't even begin to fathom the context behind it. A simple trip to the toy store? Or a sadistic preparation for some doll murdering? Who knows, but the picture would be more appropriate if there was a Heimlich Maneuver poster in the background, because every year, Ovechkin chokes in the playoffs!
9 Lionel Messi
Messi is one of the greatest soccer players of all-time. There is no arguing that. He's been the pride of Barcelona in club play and dominant with Argentina on the international stage, where he is the all-time leading scorer for both teams. Currently, at age 30, Messi is still dribbling through opposing defenders and bending it in from the corner of the box. His game is spectacular and sometimes unworldly to watch.
But Messi hasn't always been at legend status. As a young, poor kid in Rosario, Argentina, Messi was hobbled by a growth hormone deficiency. The family struggled to pay for Messi's treatments, which cost over $1,000 per month. Luckily, he ended up signing with Barcelona on a napkin at the end of 2000. Messi looks awkward as hell in these photos, mainly because his ears could pick up radio from thousands of miles away!
8 Cristiano Ronaldo
Now, onto Messi's top Rival, Cristiano Ronaldo. We all know Ronaldo for his pretty-boy physique and winning demeanor, but let's dive into Cristiano's early years. Ronaldo was born in Funchal, and his second given name, "Ronaldo," was after president Ronald Reagan! As a young boy, Ronaldo played amateur, but had a hard time balancing work and school. He agreed with his mother that he would drop out of school at 14 to pursue a semi-professional career. Just like Messi, Ronaldo was plagued with an odd condition, Racing Heart, at a young age, which nearly ended his career. He had a laser surgery to the affected area, and luckily, everything turned out fine.
When it comes to these awkward pictures, what the hell is Ronaldo wearing. It's like a yellow rain jacket with no hood. And one more fun fact, the picture on the right is an advertisement for Nike, yet it's really an Adidas sweatshirt! Okay, maybe not that interesting, but surely awkard.
7 Prince Fielder
Prince was a beast from a young age. Born in 1984 to a famous MLBer, Cecil Fielder, Prince grew up around clubhouses and professional baseball players. As you can see from the photos, he was always a "big boy." First off, in the photo on the left, he's rockin' the early 90s style with baggy "tiger" pants and baller sneakers. But he clearly can't seem to pick a team since he's wearing Detroit Tigers, New York Giants, and Chicago Cubs gear. You can see him with his dad Cecil in the photo on the right.
One crazy story from Fielder's childhood was that as a 12-year-old, he hit a batting practice, upper-deck home run in Tigers Stadium against Tigers third-baseman, Terry Francona. Fielder was destined to be a hitter from an early age!
6 Dwight Howard
Eh, I know this picture shouldn't be this far down on the list, but come one, Howard is still acting like a child on the court. Yes, he was rockin' the white beret and wife beater back in the day, but right now, he's looking to stay relevant in an ever-changing NBA. I'm sure no one was ready for the young kid in the picture to grow up and be a dominating center in the league.
The one thing that bother's me about Howard is his attitude. He's like a rich kid who complains when their parents don't get him everything he wants. All he does is move from team to team, slowly losing stock along the way. Maybe this year, with the help of Kemba Walker, Howard can make his way back to greatness. But to us at TheSportster, he'll always be a baby at heart.
5 Yao Ming
Yao must have been a huge Michael Jackson fan because I'm pretty sure that's a red leather jacket he's wearing on the Great Wall of China. Not to mention what looks like yellow sweatpants. It's like he was modeling for a McDonald's advertisement! Anyway, Yao grew up in Shanghai and was destined to play basketball since birth. His mother, 6'3" and father, 6'7" were both professional basketball players in China. At 13 years old, Yao joined the Shanghai Sharks Junior team, and played well enough to grab a spot on the Senior team four-years later.
In 2002, Yao was drafted first overall by the Houston Rockets and ended up having a hall of fame career. Who would have ever known the stylin' kid above would accomplish so much!
4 Tom Brady
Oh, God! Luck at little Tubby, I mean Tommy. Someone knew exactly where his parents were hiding all of the snacks. I absolutely love this photo. That's because every single child playing sports has a photo like this. Whether you were kneeling down with a football, or striking a particular basketball pose (see Drew Brees), everyone who played youth sports has one of these badass photos. That being said, within this picture is a world of posibility. The future of five Super Bowls is in there. The husband of a Victoria Secret model is in this picture. It's like there is hope for all people with some awkward picture. Kudos to Brady for everything he has accomplished throughout his career, but damn, this picture is awkward.
3 Hope Solo
Should I say it? Oh well, here is goes... Hope Solo's childhood photo makes her look like she's sickly. Clearly, that's not the case, but there is no denying that this was an unflattering childhood picture. Solo was born in Washington where she grew up playing soccer. Her mother and father got divorced when Solo was still young, but when she was 13, Hope's father, Jeffrey Solo, kidnapped the children and brought them to Seattle. Eventually he was caught, but Jeffrey still played an integral role in Hope's soccer career.
Nowadays, Solo is a damn smokeshow. She makes every list of hot athletes and has that competitive attitude on the field. It's like she is always playing with something to prove. Hmm maybe she is just trying to prove a**holes like me wrong! Who knows, but her childhood photo is definitely awkward.
2 Noah Syndergaard
Most baseball fans are in shock right now. How the hell is this awkward kid Noah Syndergaard? I didn't believe it at first, but it's true. Growing up in a suburb of Fort Worth, Mansfield, TX, Syndergaard hit puberty faster than most kid's his age and grew really fast. Everyone knew a kid like that in school. He was gangly and awkward as a teenager. I mean, he was rockin' the "wannabe cool" t-shirt company, Aeropastle. Either way, the guy was a huge dweeb.
But, Syndergaard has made the transition from awkward teen to beast on the mound. Now nicknamed Thor for his huge frame and warrior-like hair, I'm sure Syndergaard has no problem getting the women. But back in the day, he was just an awkward kid!
1 Steph Curry
Steph Curry is just a cute kid who hasn't hit puberty yet, and that's present day! I'm just messing with him, but Curry has been in the spotlight since he was a little kid, seeing that his father, Del Curry, was a decent player in the NBA. He was in and out of team locker rooms, press conferences, and pretty much grew up around the sport. Obviously, he killed it at the small school Davidson, and went on to take the NBA by storm with his deep three's and mind-boggling handles.
There once was a time though, like in this picture, that Steph Curry was not the Steph Curry we know and love. He was just this little kid, with an awkward haircut, awkward forehead, and a timeless, but awkward, full denim outfit. Either way, he tops the list of awkward athletes of photos that you must see. Keep an eye out in the future for Part II.