Athletes can come from a wide variety of different backgrounds and walks of life. Some are born rich with everything they could have ever wanted, some are born middle class and others are born into poverty and need to fight for everything they have. There is a deep, internal strength and resilience that is present inside of an individual that has to overcome such hardships early in life. Some of the greatest current and all time athletes have come from broken families and tough childhoods. Check back daily through December 25th to hear more stories who made a name for themselves!
1. Kurt Warner
Warner held on to his dream. He took a job in Cedar Falls stocking supermarket shelves for $5.50 an hour, trained during the day at his old college, and told anyone who would listen that he'd be an NFL quarterback some day.
2. Caron Butler
Caron Butler was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin and grew up with a rough and impoverished childhood. As he got older, things continually got worse and worse. He got into drug dealing by age 11, due to this dire situation, and was arrested 15 times before the age of 15. It was during a lengthy stay at a detention center that he re-discovered his love for basketball. He was eventually successful enough to be able to secure a scholarship at UConn and the rest is history.
3. LaBron James
You don't have to like 'King James' to be inspired by his story. Lebron James now makes millions of dollars each year playing for whatever team he feels like blessing with his presence, but his early life was less than ideal. His mom was just 16 years old when he was born and he spent a few of his early school years in a foster home. His father figure was in and out of prison for selling drugs and committing fraud. James has obviously made a name for himself. After appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high school basketball player, 18-year-old James became the No. 1 draft pick right out of high school. His success is undeniable and is surely motivating young people around the country to work hard for what they want
4. Manny Pacquiao
Boxing Manny Pacquiao really had to fight his way up from the bottom. His home country, the Philippines, is relatively poor, and Pacquiao's dad once got so desperate that he even ate the family dog. After this disturbing event, Pacquiao ran away from home and lived on the streets, selling doughnuts to make money to survive. Boxing became a way for him to turn his life around. Pacquiao has become something of a national legend, even becoming the first athlete to appear on a Philippines postage stamp. He has the distinction of being the only boxer to ever win world titles in eight different weight divisions and is considered one of the best boxers of his generation.
5. Lee Trevino
Lee Trevino started to work at an early age. Would you believe that at 5 years old, he was already working on a cotton field? As he grew older, Lee worked odd jobs and even shined shoes just to support his family. Work also led him to his career. By 14 years old, Lee became a caddy. He then became a pro golfer and since then, had a $40 million net worth by his career’s end. His story is one of the most inspiring ones in all of sports.
6. Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt came from a village that had no running water and no street lights. His upbringing was also a difficult one. When he turned into sports, he initially loved to play cricket but eventually became a sprinter. Since then, Bolt had shocked the world by breaking world record after world record aside from winning multiple Gold medals in multiple Olympic Games. The fastest man on the planet has definitely worked his way from the bottom to the top.
7. Herschel Walker
Herschel Walker was overweight in high school that’s why he was always bullied by other kids. His speech impediment also gave him a hard time back then. In order to change his life, Walker went into rigorous training to become a top athlete. He eventually became an NFL player. He was considered as an athletic running back with a great body. He has also written a book about multiple personality disorder to help give inspiration to other people.
8. Jameel McClain
Jameel McClains childhood was not an easy one. Growing up in Philadelphia, McClain barely relied on meals and shelter from the local Salvation Army. He once saw a pair of shoes hanging from a phone wire, it became his favorite pair. He leaned on to football to turn his life around. He eventually played for Syracuse and then became an NFL player in 2008. Since then, he doesn’t need to worry about shelter, food, or even shoes. He even helps their local Salvation Army as a way of giving back.
9. Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson had a rough time growing up. At 13 years old, he witnessed his father being arrested by the police due to money laundering. When he was 7, he saw his brother die after being hit by a careless drunk driver. In spite of these hard events in his life, he turned into a great football player and made it to the NFL.
10. Ray Lewis
Lewis had to endure a hard childhood because he took the place of his father. He helped his mother and his four siblings while growing up due to his father’s absence. He used football as a way to improve their lives. He got a scholarship at the University of Miami and eventually became the NFL player that he is known for today. He helped the Baltimore Ravens acquire two super bowl titles
11. Christiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo was born in Portugal, where his mother was a cook and his father was a gardener. His family grew up in poverty and less than ideal conditions. In fact, Ronaldo shared a ingle room with his brother and two sisters. He claims that they had very little and that he never had any toys. Ronaldo also had a rough time growing up. He was well liked in school, but got in major trouble at school and was eventually expelled for throwing a chair at his teacher. Today, he is one of the most recognized names in soccer.
Pele is widely regarded as one of the top football players of all time and is an absolute legend in the sport. Pele was born in Tres Coracoes, Brazil. His father was also a professional soccer player, but failed to earn a solid living with it, thus the family lived in poverty. Even in this impoverished upbringing, Pele developed a real talent for soccer and eventually found his way out of poverty. Pele actually first learned the sport by playing soccer with a rolled-up sock, stuffed with old rags.