Many of today’s star athletes are known on a first name basis, partially due to their often unusual names – Kobe, Shaquille, Peyton, etc. While their last name may be the one on the back of their jerseys, it’s their first name that excited fans are yelling in the stands and at their television screens at home.
One’s last name is also a big deal in the sports world, as it’s what’s plastered on the back of your jersey for everyone to see at games. Even in the minor leagues, for guys playing high school ball, athletes get accustomed to being called by their last names. You know even the biggest stars once spun around to listen to their coach after being called – “hey, Brady!”
The one part of any athlete’s name that remains a bit of a mystery to fans is their middle name. Simply put, it’s not often used. Just as you likely only use your middle name when you’re filling out a form that requires a complete name, many athlete's middle names remain unknown to fans unless they bother to look it up for some reason. When an athlete’s name is printed in an interview, or they make a headline for their antics or successes, athletes will generally be called by their first and last name.
Does this mean all athletes have boring middle names that don’t really matter? After all, how many something John something’s can you bother to learn? Well, you’d be pretty surprised at the amount of athletes who have just downright strange middle names. Some of them pay homage to a family member, others are just unusual choices made by the athlete’s parent for whatever reason. While these athletes might find their middle names ordinary, since they’ve had them their whole lives, the average individual would probably quirk an eyebrow at the least.
Here are 15 athletes with the strangest middle names.
15 Terrell Eldorado Owens
Terrell Owens, better known by his nickname “T.O.” played over a decade in the NFL and has several accolades to his name, including six Pro Bowl appearances. He bounced around from team to team during his playing years before officially retiring in 2012. His middle name? Eldorado. Unfortunately, it’s not a very accurate representation of his life. While El Dorado is a mythical city of gold, years of poor investments and high child support payments have rendered Owens broke.
14 Eldrick "Tiger" Tont Woods
Everyone knows about Tiger Woods’ extramarital affairs and the golf club incident that brought it all into the open, but they may not know his middle name. While golf fans know that Woods’ real name is Eldrick, not Tiger, they might be surprised to know his middle name is Tont. Just as the nickname Tiger came about to honor someone, a friend of his father’s, his middle name honors his mother’s Thai heritage. While Tont may seem like an unusual name to North Americans, it’s a common and traditional Thai name.
13 Bris Robotham Lord
Many names that were popular in the 19th century likely seem baffling to modern audiences, but this one really takes the cake. You may not be as familiar with this figure – Bris Lord was a baseball player who played from 1905 to 1913, way back in MLB’s early days. His first name is Bristol, like the town in the U.K. – pretty strange, but almost a foreshadowing to the countless Paris’s and London’s that walk the earth now. His middle name, though? Robotham. It may very well seemed normal to those rooting him on in the 19th century, but nowadays, it’s definitely a bizarre middle name.
12 Roland Champ Bailey
The name “Champ” is to athletes what generic pet names such as babe or honey are to couples – so many athletes call their team mates (or themselves) champ that former NFL cornerback Champ Bailey’s name must just be a nickname, right? Wrong. His full, real name is actually Roland Champ Bailey. That must have made coming up with a nickname pretty easy in his younger days. The question is, was he called “Champ” or “Bailey” more often? You’d have to ask his high school football coach.
11 Usain St. Leo Bolt
With the last name Bolt and a reputation for his speedy sprinting, Bolt’s nickname – “Lightning Bolt” practically wrote itself. With such an iconic last name, and a first name that sticks in your memory, who cares about his middle name? Turns out it’s pretty unusual – while Usain Leonardo Bolt wouldn’t cause many to blink an eye, Usain St. Leo Bolt is a unique choice on his parents’ part. He may be named after one of the several Saint Leonardo's, but he hasn't yet publicly spoken about his middle name, so that's just speculation.
10 Christian "Sonny" Adolph Jurgensen
Christian Jurgensen spent nearly two decades in the NFL, playing first with the Philadelphia Eagles and then the Washington Redskins as a quarterback from 1957 to 1974. This Hall of Famer, better known by his nickname “Sonny,” has a middle name with some pretty negative connotations – Adolph. Though the middle name is likely a nod to his heritage (Jurgensen is a name of German/Scandinavian origin), it’s probably not a popular choice much anymore.
9 Patrick De'mon Peterson
Patrick Peterson is a cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals. Picked in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, he’s become an elite corner in the league. His middle name, however, illustrates just how much something as simple as an apostrophe can affect a name. His middle name, De’mon, is undoubtedly a little bit strange – while something like Damon is a fairly common name, you don’t come across too many De’mons. One thing’s for sure – without the apostrophe, it would have been an even stranger middle name.
8 Floyd Joy Mayweather, Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a professional boxer who pretty much everyone knows, whether they like boxing or not. He continues to impress sports fans everywhere by being the best pound for pound fight in the world and his fight against Manny Pacquiao in May is one of the most anticipated fights ever. This tough athlete is accustomed to throttling his opponents in the ring, so it might come as a surprise that he has a middle name so full of cheer and sunshine – Joy. He’s likely pretty joyful when he knocks out his opponent, though.
7 Adalius Donquail Thomas
Adalius Thomas is a linebacker who played for the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots in the NFL. While his last name, Thomas, is incredibly common, his first name – the very unique Adalius – shows that his parents were looking to get a bit creative when it came down to naming their baby boy. His middle name proves this – you definitely don’t meet a lot of individuals named Donquail.
6 Derek Sanderson Jeter
Derek Jeter is such an icon that many don’t bother to learn his middle name – he’s either Jeter or just plain Derek, the Yankees’ former superstar. He's a fourteen-time All Star, a five-time World Series Champ and one-time World Series MVP. Yet, his middle name, however, is a bit of a strange one – Sanderson. While it would be pretty run of the mill as a last name, it’s an unusual choice for a middle name.
5 Drew McQueen Bledsoe
Though he’s now retired, quarterback Drew Bledsoe was the number one overall pick in the year he entered the NFL Draft (1993). While he spent nearly 15 years playing a pretty tough sport, one wonders if he’ll ever live up to his middle name. While he’s never been outspoken about his middle name, given that he was born in the 1970s, shortly after Steve McQueen reached the peak of his popularity, it’s a fair assumption that his parents may have named him after the iconic tough guy actor. Those are some big shoes to fill – luckily, Bledsoe went on to become an incredible quarterback. He seems to like his last name – after retiring, he and a friend founded a winery and they harvest the grapes from McQueen Vineyards near Walla Walla, Washington.
4 Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish
Cal McLish is a snappy athlete’s name, fitting for a pitcher who had an impressive 20 year career in MLB. His full name, however, shows his parents really wanted to pay tribute to a few of history’s greatest figures. Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish references a U.S. president, an iconic Roman leader and a Choctaw word that means “red warrior.” With a name like that, it seems he had no choice but to become great at whatever he chose to do.
3 Carmelo Kyam Anthony
The 6’8 basketball star Carmelo Anthony has been killing it in the basketball world since being drafted in 2003, and with a first name as unusual as his – Carmelo, which spawned his popular nickname “Melo” – it’s not surprising that not many have bothered to learn his middle name. His middle name, Kyam, is incredibly unusual – when you try to find the meaning or origin of it, or a potential namesake his parents may have had in mind, there’s not much there. Perhaps it’s a name that his creative mother created.
2 Gylfi Thor Sigurdsson
Soccer player Gylfi Sigurdsson is originally from Iceland, but is currently playing as a midfielder for English team Swansea City. Given his Icelandic background, and the connection that Iceland has to the Norse world, being given the name Thor for a middle name becomes a little bit less unusual. And let’s be honest – that’s a pretty badass middle name.
1 Kobe Bean Bryant
With a first name as iconic as Kobe Bryant’s, who needs a middle name with an interesting story? Well, Kobe Bryant does. His middle name – Bean – is a touching tribute to his father, Joe Bryant. Because of his high energy and ability to jump (guess Kobe must have inherited that particular skill), his father was nicknamed “Jellybean.” Luckily, Kobe’s parents didn’t go for the full candy-coated name and instead just dubbed him Kobe Bean Bryant.