Thursday September 18th, 2014

Athletes are known for being swift, graceful, and just generally really cool. But they weren't always that way -- even the coolest athletes in the world went through the awkward tween years. They might be trying to leave these awkward years behind them, but we're not going to let them. Here are 8 photos of professional athletes from the most awkward phase of life.

1. Tom Brady

In Flex We Trust

Tom Brady, now a three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback for the New England Patriots, nearly tried going pro in another sport —baseball. When he graduated from high school, Brady was actually selected in the 18th round of the MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos. Brady played catcher, but as we all know, he would go on to play quarterback at Michigan before heading to New England to begin his hall of fame caliber career in the NFL. 

2. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning is pictured here with his brother Cooper. Before Manning made his mark in the NFL and before he dominated the college game at Tennessee, he led Isidore Newman High School to a 34-5 record and passed for more than 7,000 yards. It is currently unknown if he shouted “Omaha” back in his high school days.

3. Dirk Nowitzki


Basketball wasn’t Dirk Nowitzki’s first sport. Instead, as a young German boy, Nowitzki’s passion was reserved for tennis. Eventually, Nowitzki would go on to become arguably the greatest foreign-born player in the history of the NBA. Still, imagining the seven-foot Nowitzki playing up close to the net is an enticing thought​.

4. Kevin Durant


Kevin Durant, still only 25 years old, is seen here wearing a No. 32 jersey. Durant currently wears No. 35 and has worn that number since his Texas days. He made the switch after his first basketball coach, Charles Craig, died at the age of 35 from multiple gunshot wounds.

5. Aaron Rodgers

Sports Pickle

Pictured in his freshman year yearbook, Rodgers attended Pleasant Valley high school in Chico, California. Rodgers would then go on to attend Cal. Despite being projected as a potential No. 1 overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers passed on Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft, opting for Alex Smith instead.

6. Serena Williams


The Williams sisters were such prodigies from such an early age that they had the misfortune of having the most awkward time in their lives captured on camera in front of a national audience. While Serena is one of the most stylish women on the court now, the same could not be said of her as a tween, when her then-sponsor Reebok apparently only had one XXL shirt left in the warehouse.

7. Robin Van Persie

Daily Mail

Robin Van Persie played for Arsenal from 2004 until 2012. A young Van Persie is seen here sporting an Arsenal jersey, but his early love for the club apparently didn’t prevent him from moving over to Manchester United at the start of the 2012 season.

8. Mike Trout

NJ Monthly

Only 23 years old, Mike Trout might end up being one of the greatest baseball players of all time when it’s all said and done. Hailing from New Jersey, Trout attended Millville Senior High School. This picture was taken his sophomore year, when he was just a few years away from inking an MLB contract.​

Sean Wagner-McGough is a writer for Next Impulse Sports

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.