Before setting an eye on the NFL less than a year into his Texas Tech career, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes inadvertently directed his attention to following the footsteps of professional baseball players.
Mahomes, through his father — Pat Mahomes — and godfather — LaTroy Hawkins — spent a good amount of time in MLB clubhouses growing up. GQ Magazine writer Clay Skipper touched on Mahomes' upbringing in the August cover story detailing the 24-year-old’s path to superstardom.
"Mahomes told me that he's been lucky enough to be spared some of what he called the “craziness that happens in this world” because of certain advantages: growing up in a small town as the son of an admired and well-known major leaguer and becoming a sports star at a young age himself.”
The careers of both gave the younger Mahomes an opportunity to interact with eventual Hall of Famers like New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
Skipper interviewed Hawkins, who broke down Mahomes’ approach to learning from the professionals.
“You can be in that environment and be a kid and just have fun with it—run around the clubhouse, do this and that, eat all the bubble gum, eat all the Cracker Jacks,” says LaTroy Hawkins, Mahomes's godfather, who played 21 seasons in the major leagues. “Patrick wasn't doing all that. Patrick was trying to figure out how I threw my fastball. Talking to A-Rod, asking: ‘How can I hit the ball to right field like you hit the ball to right field?’ Most five-, six-, seven-year-olds, they're just happy sitting there picking dandelions. He wasn't happy just being there. He wanted to be a part of the culture that we had in our clubhouse.”
Mahomes added further context of the actions Hawkins described for Skipper.
"He says he saw that, in a group of guys with various types of backgrounds, a variety of character types emerged. He studied the different ways you could be a pro athlete: Some players were unapproachable, others were more graceful and easygoing. The latter were more likely to take time with a young kid, let him hit with them."
“I always knew that if I got to the big leagues, that's how I wanted to be,” says Mahomes. “I think that's the biggest thing for me: I got to see those different personalities. It's almost like I built the way that I wanted to be, whenever I got to this point.”
The 2018 NFL MVP and Super Bowl LIV MVP also recently surpassed Tom Brady for the top spot in NFL jersey sales and his growing stardom has no signs of slowing any time soon.