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25 Athletes Who Were Born Rich

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Eric Christian Smith/AP/REX / Shutterstock.com

It’s possible that the world of professional sports has created more rags-to-riches stories than any other industry, but not all athletes started at the bottom. Some, in fact, could have taken it easy and inherited fortunes small and large but instead chose to pursue their talents and passions and make their own money on the court, field or track.

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In honor of Peyton Manning’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, take a look at these star athletes who started life with a little financial cushion.

Last updated: Aug. 6, 2021

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The Manning Brothers

The Mannings are football royalty. Quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning are two-time Super Bowl champions, and their father, Archie Manning, played quarterback in the NFL for 13 seasons. Archie was the No. 2 overall selection in the 1971 NFL Draft by the Saints, but his sons topped him when their turns came; both were selected No. 1.

Peyton was also elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, and Eli will enter the New York Giants’ ring of honor later in the year. Peyton led the Colts and the Broncos to Super Bowl victories and was the only quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl with two different teams — that is until his rival, and now friend, Tom Brady matched the feat in 2021.

And the Manning family candle still burns. The oldest of the Manning brothers, Cooper, is the father of Arch Manning, who is ranked as the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the Class of 2023.

Learn More: How Rich are Michael Jordan, Alex Rodriguez And 13 More Incredibly Wealthy Retired Athletes?

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Laila Ali

Laila Ali fought professionally from 1999-2007 before retiring undefeated after 24 fights. She won 21 of those fights by knockout, giving her a far better knockout-to-win percentage than many famous champion boxers — including her father, the great Muhammad Ali. The man born as Cassius Clay is not only one of the greatest boxers of all time, but one of the most significant athletes of the 20th century across all sports, and a man whose political, civil rights and anti-war activism transcended boxing and athletics in general.

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Marco Andretti

The Andretti family is well-known in open-wheel racing. The current generation is anchored by Marco Andretti, a successful IndyCar racer. His father is Michael Andretti, one of the greatest open-wheel drivers in history and a successful team owner — but the lineage didn’t start there. Michael is the son of the great Mario Andretti, one of the most celebrated names in racing history and one of only two drivers to win races in NASCAR, World Sportscar Championship, IndyCar and Formula One.

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Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant moved to Rieti, Italy, when he was 6 years old as his father settled into a new life playing professional basketball in Italy. The story of the late Kobe Bryant’s ascension to NBA glory is well documented, but the story of his father, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, is not as well-known. The elder Bryant played in the NBA from 1975-83 for the 76ers, the Clippers and the Rockets before moving the family to Italy. After retiring from playing, Jellybean went on to a long and successful coaching career.

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Pete Crow-Armstrong

In the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the New York Mets took the charismatic and consummately talented Pete Crow-Armstrong, an 18-year-old left-handed center fielder whose hitting is as impressive as his arm and his speed. His family is no stranger to the spotlight. His mother, Ashley Crow, is an actress who appeared in “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise and “Heroes” on NBC, but her most famous role, ironically enough, was in a baseball movie — she played Jenny in 1994’s “Little Big League.” His dad, Matthew John Armstrong, also is an actor, boasting roles in “House,” “American Horror Story” and “The Young and the Restless.” The Mets traded Crow-Armstrong to the Chicago Cubs in July 2021.

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Stephen Curry

Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry is one of the greatest three-point men in NBA history and arguably the best shooter of all time — and his dad was no slouch, either. Dell Curry played in the NBA from 1986 through 2002, and he was the Charlotte Hornets’ all-time leader in three-pointers and points until Kemba Walker surpassed him. Stephen Curry entered the league just seven years after his father retired. On Aug. 3, 2021, the Warriors and the younger Curry agreed to a four-year, $215 million contract extension.

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Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Mike Dunleavy Jr.’s NBA career spanned 15 years between 2002-17. Nicknamed “The Natural,” the forward/guard played for the Warriors, Pacers, Bucks, Bulls, Cavaliers and Hawks. Basketball was a family affair. His father is Mike Dunleavy Sr., who played in the NBA between 1976-85 and then retired, only to come back and play two more seasons between 1988-90. After his second and final retirement, he went onto a coaching career and served as general manager of the Bucks and Clippers.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most accomplished champions in racing history, but his career was built on the shoulders of giants. His father, Dale “The Intimidator” Earnhardt Sr., died during the last lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001 in a hideous crash that was broadcast live to horrified audiences across the world. The elder Earnhardt earned nearly $43 million during his NASCAR career. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was the son of Ralph Earnhardt, a famous short-track racer who racked up 16 top-10 finishes for a total of $23,550 in career earnings — not a bad haul for a racer in the 1950s and early ’60s.

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Nick Foles

Nick Foles no longer plays for the Eagles, but he’ll always be a hero in Philadelphia after leading the Birds to Super Bowl glory — he was named Super Bowl MVP — as a backup quarterback over the mighty New England Patriots in 2018. He was born into wealth, but life on easy street as a kid only bolstered his work ethic. His parents, Melissa and Larry Foles, are successful restaurateurs. Larry dropped out of high school and frequently worked 80 to 100 hours per week, a fact that wasn’t lost on the future NFL quarterback. In 2011, the year before Nick Foles entered the NFL, Larry earned $59 million from the sale of 11 restaurants.

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Tim Hardaway Jr.

With a career spanning 14 seasons between 1989 and 2003, Tim Hardaway made the All-Rookie team his first year in the NBA, was a five-time All-Star and was named All-NBA five times. In 2013, 10 years after he retired, his son Tim Hardaway Jr. was drafted by the Knicks and remains in the league today. Like his father, the younger Hardaway was named All-Rookie.

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Grant Hill

Small forward/shooting guard Grant Hill enjoyed a stellar career that spanned 1994-2013. During stints with the Pistons, Magic, Suns and Clippers, the Hall of Famer went to seven All-Star games, was named All-NBA five times and earned the title Rookie of the Year in 1994-95. His father, Calvin Hill, was also named Rookie of the Year — but not in the NBA. The elder Hill played running back for the Dallas, Washington and Cleveland franchises between 1969-81. The four-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion was named All-Pro once.

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Bill Laimbeer

Playing mostly for Detroit between 1980-94, center Bill Laimbeer was famously loathed around the league by most of those who were willing to go on the record about him — but not solely because of his on-court antics as the leader of the Pistons’ “Bad Boys.” He made four trips to the All-Star Game and won two NBA championships. According to a 1986 Sports Illustrated article that attempted to demystify the widely misunderstood man, Laimbeer was famous for saying, “I’m the only player in the NBA who makes less money than his father.” At the time, William Laimbeer Sr. was an executive with glass and paper giant Owens-Illinois, earning more than $300,000 a year plus bonuses.

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Tara Lipinski

In 1998, 15-year-old Tara Lipinski became the youngest athlete ever to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. A month and a half later, she went pro — but not because she needed the money. She made the move to unite her family, who had been living apart to support her career. Her father, after all, was Jack Lipinski, a wealthy and powerful oil executive out of Texas. When he retired from CVR Energy in 2017, none other than Carl Icahn wrote a statement thanking him for his service.

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Hugo Lloris

French soccer goalie Hugo Lloris originally wanted to play tennis as a child, and according to the Mirror, he excelled with a racket. A country club sport was likely a natural choice, considering the Tottenham star’s pedigree growing up in the south of France. His father, Luc, is a wealthy and successful merchant banker and international law specialist based in Monte Carlo. His mother was a lawyer.

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Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes sat out the first year of his three years in the NFL but still went on to rack up a Super Bowl win, two trips to the Pro Bowl and an MVP title — needless to say, the Chiefs star quarterback lived up to the considerable hype surrounding his 2017 draft. An athlete in his own right, his father, Pat Mahomes, pitched for seven teams during his MLB career, which spanned from 1992-2003.

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Johnny Manziel

It was clear in high school that Johnny Manziel was a rare talent with NFL potential, and his standout college career eliminated any doubt. Drafted by the Browns in the first round of the 2014 draft, “Johnny Football” had some success, but his legacy is one of squandered talent. His short career was marred by legal troubles, substance abuse and highly publicized incidents of erratic behavior and off-field scandals. His family history closely mirrors that pattern. He was born into a wealthy and prominent oil family in Texas that traces its lineage back to Manziel’s great-grandfather, Bobby Joe Manziel, a bantamweight boxer and friend of Jack Dempsey who struck it rich in the Lonestar State’s oil fields. Throughout the generations, the family was known for wealth and success — Johnny’s parents are worth $50 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth — but also for run-ins with the law, eccentric behavior and controversy.

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Kyle Petty

Like so many other champion racers, Kyle Petty is just one link in a very long chain. When Kyle Petty retired in 2008, it was the end of an era. In 2000, his son Adam was killed while practicing for the Nationwide series, ensuring that after Kyle, no Petty would race in NASCAR for the first time in generations. Kyle Petty is the son of Richard Petty, one of the most accomplished and popular racers in the history of the sport. The elder Petty is the son of Lee Petty, a NASCAR pioneer and stock car racing’s first true superstar.

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Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza’s Hall of Fame baseball career spanned from 1992-2007, mostly with the Mets and Dodgers, and he’s remembered as one of the greatest hitting catchers in the game. The 10-time Silver Slugger and 12-time All-Star was one of the best-paid celebrity athletes of his era, but even Mike Piazza’s fortune doesn’t measure up to that of his father. A high school dropout and the son of impoverished Sicilian immigrants, Vince Piazza turned a single used-car lot into a $100 million auto, real estate and computer services empire.

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Gerard Piqué

Playing first for Manchester United and now Barcelona, Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué is one of the best defensive soccer players in the game. Although his parents weren’t athletes, they were wealthy. His father, Joan, is a successful businessman and his mother, Montserrat, is the director of a Barcelona hospital for spinal injuries. His grandfather, Amador Bernabeu, was the vice president of FC Barcelona.

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Oscar Pistorius

In 1944, Oom Hendrik Pistorius founded H. Pistorius & Co. in South Africa, which would grow to become the oldest and largest supplier of agricultural lime on the entire continent. It was the basis of generational wealth that filtered down all the way to Oom Hendrick’s grandson, Oscar Pistorius, who was born into privilege in South Africa. Oscar inspired the world when he became the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics in 2012. His legacy, however, took a much darker turn when he was convicted of murdering his model girlfriend after one of the most sensational trials of the early 21st century.

Worth Reading: 30 Strange Clauses in These Athletes’ Contracts

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Jessica Springsteen

Jessica Springsteen represented the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in equestrian. She learned to ride a horse on the family farm in Colts Neck, New Jersey, owned by her parents — rocker Bruce Springsteen and singer Patti Scialfa. She also qualified for the 2012 London Olympics as an alternate but didn’t compete.

Related: Lessons To Live By From These 13 Rags-to-Riches Athletes

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Peter Revson

Peter Revson, who died on the track in 1974 at the age of 35, could have been one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time. In reality, he could have done anything — or nothing at all. As an heir to the Revlon Cosmetics fortune, Revson shunned a life of privilege and luxury in the pursuit of his true passion: racing. As an American in a sport dominated by Europeans, the deck was already stacked against him, and many in the sport presumed him to be a rich kid trying to buy his way into racing. His work ethic, talent and passion soon won over hearts on both sides of the Atlantic before he was killed on a test session track.

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Zara Anne Elizabeth Tindall

Those who are into equestrian competition might know the name Zara Anne Elizabeth Tindall, who won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics for Great Britain. When she received the medal, it was her mother who presented it to her. She is the daughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips and the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II.

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Al Unser Jr.

In terms of DNA-based racing dynasties, even the Earnhardt and Andretti families can’t compete with the Unser family’s racing pedigree. The son of Al Unser and the nephew of Bobby Unser, Al Unser Jr. retired as a two-time Indy 500 winner — but that was just the latest addition to the massive Unser family trophy room. His grandfather and great uncles — men born in the 1800s — along with his uncles and cousins are all major names in the industry. Incredibly, an Unser won the Indy 500 nine times between 1968-94 — meaning one out of every 11 Indianapolis 500s ever held were won by a member of racing’s first family.

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Kellen Winslow II

Tight end Kellen Winslow II had a good NFL career between 2004-13, including a trip to the Pro Bowl. His father, however, was one of the position’s defining players. Unlike the younger Winslow, the senior played tight end for just one team, the Chargers, between 1979-87. A Hall of Fame inductee, the senior Winslow went to five Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro three times.

In May 2021, Kellen Winslow II received a 14-year prison sentence in connection with multiple rapes and other sex crimes.

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