In the Name Of the Father An athlete's first step toward immortality is to name his kids after his favorite person: himself

Feb. 28, 2000
Feb. 28, 2000

Table of Contents
Feb. 28, 2000

In the Name Of the Father An athlete's first step toward immortality is to name his kids after his favorite person: himself

By Steve Rushin's Air and SpaceSteve Rushin

Professional athletes are not, as we in the media would have you
believe, egomaniacs. The vast majority are selfless, not
self-absorbed. Boxer George Foreman dotes on his children George,
George, George, George, George and Georgetta. Mavericks forward
John (Hot Rod) Williams adores his kids John, Johnna, Johnpaul
and Johnfrancis. Whom does Cardinals cornerback Ty Howard love
most: his son Ty, his son Tyrell or his daughter Tyler? The
answer is clear: It's a three-way Ty!

This is an article from the Feb. 28, 2000 issue Original Layout

"Our children are not individuals whose rights and tastes are
casually respected from infancy, as they are in some primitive
societies," author Ruth Fulton Benedict theorized in 1934. "They
are fundamentally extensions of our own egos." To which we say:
Hogwash. Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders's son and
daughter--Deion and Diondra--are hardly extensions of his modest
ego, any more than the son and daughter of Jazz forward Karl
Malone (Karl and Karlee) or Braves infielder Ozzie Guillen (Ozzie
and Ozney) or Bills running back Sam Gash (Sam and Samantha) or
Phillies infielder Alex Arias (Alex and Alexandria) or Hawks
center Lorenzen Wright (Lorenzen and Loren) or Pirates outfielder
Wilfredo Cordero (Wilfredo and Wilanny) or Bengals defensive end
Michael Bankston (Michael and Mikaela) or big league second
baseman Carlos Baerga (Carlos and Karla) or Raptors guard Tyrone
Bogues (Tyrone and Tyeisha) or Pirates infielder Luis Sojo (Luis
and LesLuis) are extensions of those athletes' infinitesimal

And even if they were, so what? "To love oneself," wrote Oscar
Wilde, "is the beginning of a lifelong romance." Ergo, to love
oneself as torridly as Chargers linebacker Gerald Dixon does is
to stoke an affair that will last three lifetimes. Gerald, after
all, has sons Gerald and Gerald. Or is it the other way around?

In the absence of a small modifier--Sonics guard Gary Payton
helpfully named his boys Gary Jr. and Gary II; Hornets forward
Anthony Mason's kids are Anthony and Antoine; big league pitcher
Mel Rojas has Mel and Melvin--it can be difficult to summon the
right offspring for a father-son heart-to-heart. Big league
catcher Benito (Benny) Santiago, for instance, has two boys:
Benito and Benito.

Benny's daughter, on the other hand, is Bennybeth. Like Red Sox
infielder Jose Offerman--one of whose daughters is
Joseann--Santiago has flouted the pro athlete's preferred method
for naming a girl, which is to amend his own first name, or to
append one (or, at most, two) vowels to it, as in the case of
Devils enforcer Claude Lemieux (Claudia), Bears receiver Bobby
Engram (Bobbi), Bears linebacker Barry Minter (Bari), Devil Rays
DH Jose Canseco (Josie), Packers cornerback Tyrone Williams
(Tyra), Braves rightfielder Brian Jordan (Briana), Seahawks
running back Ahman Green (Ahmani), Falcons receiver Terance
Mathis (Terae) or Broncos linebacker Nate Wayne (Nata). It is
perhaps too much to hope that Nata will one day marry a son of
Panthers lineman Nate Newton (either son: Nate or Nathaniel).

While Giants guard Ron Stone is blessed with a pair of patronymed
girls--Ronnie and Ronna--many athletes deliberately steer clear of
naming their daughters after themselves. After Blue Jays
outfielder Raul Mondesi fathered two boys, Raul and Raul, he
called his first girl Kisha, and discreetly saved Raul for her
middle name: Kisha Rauleiny Mondesi.

Shakespeare asked, "What's in a name?" To which Roger Clemens
might well respond, "The word me." The Yankees pitcher has
started each of his children's names--Koby, Kory, Kacy and
Kody--with a K, the scorecard notation for his specialty, the
strikeout. Why Clemens didn't simply name the kids Roger, Roger,
Roger and LaRoger is anybody's guess, though the famous father
may have feared casting too long a shadow over his young ones.
(Latrell Sprewell II was not as lucky.)

So let us praise former big leaguer Juan Samuel, who prudently
put no such pressure on his firstborn son. Samuel didn't dare
name his boy Juan. No, sir: He named him Samuel.