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Monday, August 2, 2021

Taking a look at the greatest sibling duos in sports

Family ties in professional sports can be rare, but they are not impossible

The process of becoming a professional athlete is very long and tedious. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice by everyone involved just to become a Division 1 athlete. Still, only 2% of all student-athletes become professional athletes, so when a member of a family achieves that title, it feels like all the work has been worth it. But, there have been some rare occasions where more than one member of the family made it, and become wildly successful as well. 

In this past NBA Draft held in November, the Ball brothers Lonzo and LaMelo became the first siblings to be drafted in the top five. LaMelo was drafted third overall by the Charlotte Hornets and Lonzo was drafted second overall in 2017 by the Los Angeles Lakers. Still very young, the pair of brothers have star potential. Hitting their stride at about the same time would be a sight to see, seeing how close they grew up. Although their third brother LiAngelo Ball was not drafted, he also recently signed with the Detroit Pistons on a non-guaranteed contract, resulting in all three brothers in the NBA. The Holiday brothers Jrue, Aaron and Justin are the only other active siblings simultaneously on NBA rosters, a telling of how rare it is. 

While many have their opinions on the Ball brothers’ father Lavar, no one can deny this tremendous achievement. Although he does have some controversial moments, his involvement in his children’s life and his assistance in getting them to their level of success is an incredible feat. The brothers feel that, and regardless of their all-time success by the time their careers are done, no one will be able to criticize this achievement.

The NBA is no stranger to siblings making an impact. As of the end of 2019, there would have been a total of 70 sets of siblings to have participated in the NBA. Most notably, the Gasol brothers Pau and Marc, who have found massive amounts of success in their long and storied careers. After being traded for each other in 2008, Pau thrived during his time with the Lakers. Alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau made three straight NBA Finals and won two championships in LA. He made the NBA All-Star team six times and was an All-NBA selection four times, etching his name in the storied Lakers franchise in the process.

Marc, the younger brother, has also had his fair share of success. After starting his career overseas, he joined the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. A three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA selection, the youngest Gasol finally reached the pinnacle of basketball success, being a part of the 2019 Toronto Raptors team that won the NBA championship. The two brothers have shared their successes in international play as well and will surely go down as some of the best overseas players in the history of the NBA.

The Gasol brothers are arguably the most successful siblings to ever play basketball, but the Millers are another top example. Both Reggie and Cheryl Miller had their time during their professional careers in men’s and women’s basketball respectively. The Hall of Famer Reggie was a five-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA selection during his 18-year career with the Indiana Pacers. With many clutch shots and pinpoint accuracy from three, Reggie will go down as one of the most memorable NBA players of all time. Still, he might not even be the best basketball player in his family. 

Cheryl is widely regarded as one of the greatest female basketball players of all time. Starting her career before the WNBA, she was an icon in college, during which she won two National Championship titles and three Naismith College Player of the year awards. She has a gold medal from the 1984 Olympics and many more memorable accolades as she finished her career. Because there was no WNBA at the time, we will never know how big her impact would’ve been had she played in the states, but even then, she will be remembered forever. Both Reggie and Cheryl remain the only brother-sister duo in the Basketball Hall of Fame to this day. 

When you look at the NFL, there have been many instances of siblings who play at the same time. But, it is hard to not think of Peyton and Eli Manning when you think of one of the greatest sibling duos of all time. Both brothers were drafted first overall in their respective drafts and each are two-time Super Bowl champions. 

Eli’s will be most remembered for his two incredible Super Bowl runs. While he may not be as highly regarded as his brother, those two Super Bowl runs—beating the Patriots and Tom Brady twice—will go down as some of the most unforgettable moments in the 21st century. On the other side, Peyton will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever live. A 14-time Pro-Bowler and 7-time All-Pro throughout his storied career, he racked up accolade after accolade, winning five MVPs in the process. The two brothers will be in the Hall of Fame one day. Even coming in with a lot of pressure having the last name Manning, they somehow pushed the greatness of the name even further. 

It is not common to see siblings end up as coaches, let alone football head coaches. That is the case for Jim and John Harbaugh. Both had different career paths after college, but ended up becoming head coaches, even coaching against each other in Super Bowl XLVII. Nicknamed the “Har-Bowl,” it became the first Super Bowl that had brothers on opposing sides. 

Jim had a long college and NFL career that saw him make one Pro Bowl and make the playoffs three separate times. He then went on to coaching, finding success in college at Stanford before ultimately joining the 49ers. After a long stint in San Francisco, he went to his alma mater Michigan, where he is currently coaching. John on the other hand, began coaching right out of college in 1984 and worked his way up in the college and NFL ranks. He eventually landed a head coaching job in Baltimore in 2008 and has held it ever since. 

Finally, it is nearly impossible to talk about siblings who are professional athletes, and not talk about Venus and Serena Williams. Both sisters have been in the spotlight since a young age due to their father, but they have backed up everything that he has said. With 30 Grand Slam singles titles, 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and eight Olympic gold medals between the two, it is no wonder the duo seems like they will never be beat. 

Both sisters have been ranked number one in singles and doubles, as well as have faced each other numerous times in tournaments and in finals. The Williams sisters have been a staple of tennis worldwide, since they stepped into the scene in the mid-1990s at a young age. Being exposed to an incredible amount of pressure since they were teenagers, the two sisters have somehow met those expectations and become two of the greatest tennis players the sport has ever seen.
Written by: Omar Navarro — sports@theaggie.org

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