In television shows and movies, the prom is basically like a mini red carpet event. Characters look unbelievably glamorous, the party is generally hosted at a glitzy hotel, and of course, everyone has a smoking hot date on their arm. The prom photos that those types of characters take wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of Vogue or Elle. However, the reality is often very, very different. When you think of real life prom photos, you get a whole different set of images in your mind – and none of them are glamorous. Awkward poses, terrible backdrops, out of date suits in strange colors with ruffled details, and a plain old cringe-worthy teenage expression. For most individuals, prom photos aren’t exactly their finest moment.
However, athletes are a whole different story, right? After all, their high school career is often spent getting media attention from the local newspapers thanks to their athletic prowess, and countless high fives and cheers in the halls after they win a big game. They’re basically the normal high school version of celebrities – so they totally rocked their prom photos, right? Well, you might think that’s the case, but in actuality, at the end of the day, professional athletes are just regular people. That means they take regular, awkward, cringe-inducing prom photos. Now, most pro athletes know to keep those pics under lock and key, but every now and then one surfaces that proves how normal pro athletes can be.
Nowadays, the 15 individuals on this list are wealthy professional athletes who get all the perks of doing one of the things they love most for a living. The big stars are often chased by endless women, they get sponsorships and free swag, they zip around in fancy cars and basically live a life that most of us can only dream of. However, back in the day, they were just like everyone else – awkward teenagers posing for awkward photos. There’s just something comforting about that, no?
Here are 15 awkward athlete prom photos.
15 Mark Sanchez
Nowadays, Mark Sanchez is tearing up the football fields in Philly as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s known for being slightly strange in his style choices – I mean, who can forget the headbands? – but this prom outfit takes things to a whole new level. We can only assume the popular jock was voted some type of prom king, because otherwise, why on earth would he be wearing that ridiculous hat and cape? The goofy grin, the curly hair, the strange costume – this is a photo only a prom could inspire. Plus hey, at least his date looks like she’s having a great time.
14 Kevin Garnett
Everyone knows that many pro athletes are just taller, stronger, and physically more impressive than the average man or woman. For someone who makes it to the NBA, chances are they didn’t skyrocket from 5 feet to 7 feet in the span of a year – most of them were likely standing in the back row for school pictures for quite awhile. Minnesota Timberwolves center Kevin Garnett is not only rocking a lilac cummerbund and bowtie in his prom photo (considerately matching his date, of course), he’s also towering over her – and almost towering over the arch they’re posing in front of!
13 Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade is known for his sense of style. We’re going to let you think about that as you take in this prom photo. We’re guessing he didn’t really develop his personal style until a little bit later in life. First of all, he’s in all white – a bold look that most gentlemen probably wouldn’t rock today. Second, he’s posing with his date in somebody’s house, in typical prom fashion – that backdrop definitely adds to the bizarreness of the photo. And then, the piece de resistance – the hat. I mean, he’s wearing a white bowler hat to match his all white suit. That’s a look that probably will never come back in style.
12 Mike Bryan
American tennis player Mike Bryan has been tearing up the courts for several years, but it seems like back in the day, he tore up the dance floor at his prom. The 37-year old tennis pro would have attended prom in the 90s, in case you hadn’t guessed from the photo. From his perfectly coiffed and shellacked hair to his stiff pose and nerdy smile, this look just screams awkward prom photo. Quite frankly, we’re shocked that he seems to be touching his date’s waist rather than doing the infamous hover hand.
11 Tom Brady
Today, Tom Brady is one of the most handsome men in the NFL. However, he wasn’t always so handsome – even when he first debuted at Combine he was a bit of a scrawny kid. The proof lies in his prom photos. Current Tom Brady absolutely knows how to rock a tux, and is one of the best looking men on any red carpet he attends. High school Tom Brady, on the other hand, is adorably nerdy – the slightly baggy shirt and vest, the white bow tie, the hair, the self-conscious pose where he seems unsure of what to do with his hands… this photo is awkward paradise.
10 Alex Smith
Okay, it seems like Alex Smith was definitely trying to capitalize on his status as a jock at his high school prom. In this group shot of Smith and several pals, every girl is dressed up, complete with tiaras, and every guy is rocking a chic black suit. And then, there’s Alex. The funny hat means he must have been voted prom king, but the question is, why on earth is he wearing a jersey when everyone else is rocking formal wear? Relax, Alex – everyone knows you’re a football player. You don’t need to wear sweat bands to prom.
9 Jimmy Rollins
Before Jimmy Rollins was a professional baseball player, he was just a kid at Encinal High School in Alameda, California. Unlike some jocks, Rollins didn’t stay glued to his girlfriend all night at prom, taking couples’ shots under the flower-packed arch. Instead, he rocked it with his bros. Rollins’ prom outfit isn’t too bad – you can never go wrong with a simple dark tuxedo. I mean, it could be worse – he could be wearing that pale blue pinstriped monstrosity that his bro is rocking. However, the pose alone makes this worthy of any awkward prom photo list. I mean, who do they think they are, Boys II Men? It’s awkward in the best possible way.
8 Michael Jordan
While he’s a basketball legend now, back in the day, Michael Jordan was just a regular high school student (okay, well, a regular high school student athlete who gets recruited by countless schools). And, like many former NBA players, he chose to go all-white for his prom look. White pants, jacket, shirt, even a white bowtie. His date got the memo as well, as she’s rocking an all white dress. MJ even managed to get her an all white corsage to make sure everything matched. Forget Diddy – MJ made this look cool.
7 Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley spent over 15 years in the NBA, playing with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets, and won countless accolades over the course of his career. Let’s be serious though – the true winner is whoever got to take this prom photo and witness young Barkley first hand. First of all, his tuxedo is a deep wine, maroon color. Stylish, no? Then, you can’t ignore what appears to be a ruffled shirt underneath it. Finally, the pose – we’re fairly certain that we’re witnessing a hover hand there by the small of his date’s back. Perfection.
6 Sam Querrey
We can barely look at Sam Querrey’s prom photo without cringing. I mean, come on – while he may get captured making some awkward faces during his tennis games, this one takes things to a new level. That smile and hunch are key elements in the perfect formula for an awkward teenage prom photo. The corsage is there, the cheesy backdrop is there – it truly has everything you could ever want. His date looks cute, but Querrey definitely isn’t looking too photogenic in this shot.
5 Devon Kennard
Posing with a small smile while standing behind or beside your date, one hand hovering near some part of her body? That’s for regular guys – Devon Kennard had a much better idea when it came to his prom photos. The linebacker wanted to capture his prom experience with his bros, not his date – so he took a shot with one of his pals. And, after all, how on earth would you pose with a friend without doing the finger gun and pointing to them, right? I mean, it pretty much can’t be done.
4 Derek Jeter
Baseball legend Derek Jeter has dated countless celebrities and could likely have any woman he wants in New York City (or, honestly, most cities). However, he wasn’t always quite such a dreamboat. This black and white photo of Jeter might not offer too many conclusive details, but it’s awkward enough to earn him a spot on the list. First of all, the suit is obviously not a classic navy or black – it’s some strange, light color. Second, the sheen it has suggests he’s rocking some type of snazzy silk blend. I mean, it’s just so far from his typical look that we can’t help but be fascinated.
3 Janet Evans
Okay, this prom photo is just plain amazing. Janet Evans looks super happy, but her smile isn’t the biggest thing in the photo – no, that honor would have to go to those voluminous lace sleeves. Add the tiara to the package and you have a definitely memorable look. However, Evans needn’t worry – her date, while handsome, is rocking some pretty awkward hair. Ah, the 90s.
2 Chris Paul
Nowadays, Chris Paul rocks the basketball court as a point guard with the Los Angeles Clippers. His career thus far has earned him an NBA Rookie of the Year Award, two Olympic gold medals, and invitations to numerous NBA All-Star and All-NBA teams. However, back in high school, Chris Paul was just another guy trying to make his date happy at prom. The backdrop in his prom photo is priceless – an arch covered in gauze-y white fabric and roses, a faux bench for those seated photo moments, and of course, a few stars scattered on the backdrop. We’re betting Chris Paul’s prom theme was ‘reach for the stars.’ If only they could see him now.
1 Andre Williams
Andre Williams is a running back with the New York Giants, but perhaps he should have been a swimmer, judging by his choice of background. It seems to be a rule with prom photos that you either stand in front of a manufactured, cheesy backdrop, in someone’s living room, or outside someone’s house if you’re looking to get a little scenic landscape in the background. However, the real icing on the cake here is in Williams’ pose. I mean, we can only assume that his date’s father was the one taking the picture – why else would he appear to be made of stone, reluctant to make too much contact with his date?