Paternity Suits and Pro Athletes: The List 13

About: Athletes

On draft day in any professional sport, the highlight reels show young athletes celebrating the beginning of their pro careers, putting on a team jersey or cap, and smiling with the league commissioner for photo ops. Often, though, the next rite of passage for a young professional athlete in America is not exactly a photo opportunity – it’s a paternity suit.

For whatever social, psychological or sexual reason, pro athletes are having children out-of-wedlock at an epidemic rate. No sport is exempt – baseball, football, basketball, boxing, hockey and more. Child support payments are some athletes’ single biggest expense. Since Father’s Day is coming up soon, we thought we’d take a look at some of the more notable professional players (pun intended) who have been parties to paternity suits.

As you might expect, the list of athletes with one or two illegitimate children is extremely long. Much too long to list here in its entirety. Highlights from that list include:

  • Mark Messier (NHL Hall of Famer)
  • Brian Urlacher (NFL)
  • Stephon Marbury (NBA)
  • Jason Kidd (NBA)
  • Allen Iverson (NBA)
  • Latrell Sprewell (NBA)
  • Juwan Howard (NBA)
  • Scottie Pippen (NBA)
  • Hakeem Olajuwon (NBA)
  • Patrick Ewing (NBA)
  • Randy Johnson (MLB)
  • Matt Leinart (NFL)
  • Tom Brady (NFL)
  • Darren McFadden (NFL rookie)
  • Dwight Howard (NBA) [one child with an Orlando Magic dancer]
  • Warren Sapp (NFL)
  • Larry Fitzgerald (NFL) [one child with a Los Angeles Raider cheerleader]
  • Lance Briggs (NFL)
  • Tracy McGrady (NBA)
  • Chipper Jones (MLB) [one child with an Atlanta area Hooters waitress]
  • Boris Becker (Tennis)

But it doesn’t stop there! The numbers get CRAZY – read below!

Then there are the guys who haven’t figured it out yet or just don’t care. The list includes these athletes with three to five illegitimate children each:

  • Larry Johnson (NBA) – 5 kids by 4 women; 3 are illegitimate
  • Charles Rogers (NBA)- Reportedly has 5 illegitimate kids
  • Greg Minor (NBA) – 3 illegitimate kids
  • Ricky Williams (NFL) – 3 illegitimate kids
  • Priest Holmes (NFL) – 3 illegitimate kids
  • Karl Malone (NBA) – 3 illegitimate kids – all born while he was in college; 2 of the 3 are now professional athletes
  • Oscar de la Hoya (Boxing) – 5 kids by 4 women; 3 are illegitimate
  • Elijah Dukes (MLB) – 5 illegitimate kids by 4 women (possibly 6 kids by 5 women now – the most recent one hasn’t been publicly confirmed)
  • Willis McGahee (NFL) – 3 illegitimate kids in 2 years
  • Michael Vick (NFL/current federal inmate) – 3 illegitimate children

These athletes take the cake with six or more illegitimate children a piece:

  • Ray Lewis (NFL) – Rumored to have 6 children by 4 women
  • Marshall Faulk (NFL) – Also rumored to have 6 children, but by 3 women
  • Antonio Cromartie (NFL) – 7 illegitimate kids by 6 women by age 25
  • Shawn Kemp (NBA) – 7 illegitimate kids by 6 women (some rumors put these numbers MUCH higher)
  • Derrick Thomas (NFL) – 7 illegitimate kids by 5 women at the time of his death at age 33
  • Jason Caffey (NBA) – 8 illegitimate children by 7 women
  • Travis Henry (NFL) – 9 kids by 9 women by age 28
  • Willie Anderson (NBA) – 9 illegitimate kids
  • Evander Holyfield (Boxing) – 9 illegitimate kids
  • Calvin Murphy (NBA) – 14 illegitimate kids by 9 women

And this paternity suit epidemic? Not exactly new territory for the big leagues. These guys were having illegitimate kids way back in the day:

  • Steve Garvey (MLB) – 2 illegitimate kids by 2 women
  • Julius Erving/Dr. J (NBA) – 2 illegitimate kids by 2 women
  • Isiah Thomas (NBA) – 3 children; 1 is illegitimate
  • Jim Palmer (MLB) – 1 illegitimate child
  • Darryl Strawberry (MLB) – 6 children; 1 is illegitimate
  • Pete Rose (MLB) – 5 children; 1 is illegitimate
  • Tug McGraw (MLB) – 3 children; 1 is illegitimate (and happens to be country singer Tim McGraw)
  • Bjorn Borg (Tennis) – 1 illegitimate child

As long as there are professional athletes, it seems that the folks who do paternity testing will always have jobs!

Legal Topics: paternity, child support, paternity testing


  • Alexa

    What is the financial benefit for those illegitimate children? How long do they have to file a lawsuit? Are they living with single mother’s or were they adopted? Thanks, Alexa

  • Hey Alexa –

    Each parent has the legal responsibility to financially support their child. So, the immediate benefit to these children is (hopefully) the payment of child support by his or her father. Ultimately, if paternity is legally established, these children may have inheritance rights from their fathers as well.

    Some of these men, I’m sure, have visitation and real relationships with their children born out of wedlock. For example, I know that before his death Derrick Thomas had regular visitation, vacations and other contact with all of his kids.

    Paternity suits are generally filed by either parent for the benefit of the child and the rules regarding those suits vary from state to state.

    And I don’t know where the kids referenced in this article are living. It’s my assumption that they are all being raised by their mothers (who may or may not have ended up marrying other men).

    Sorry for the long answer – thanks for reading Alexa!

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  • Juice

    I believe there is a record number of average non-athletes also having illegitimate children. What point exactly were you trying to make by listing these athletes and the number of kids they have?

    • brenda hinkle

      It needs to be shared that it is a real problem to know that you have a child but not acknowledge it, at least this gives truth to the situation.

  • J. Johnson

    @Juice – lots of people do lots of things that celebrities and athletes do. But it’s more interesting when famous people do it – especially the shameful stuff like high numbers of illegitimate kids. I think it’s good to shine the spotlight on these high profile individuals.

    I would bet that as a group pro athletes are more likely to have illegitimate kids than the general public.

    Oh, wait, I don’t have to bet – Sports Illustrated already did a story on it. “Nearly one-third of all children in this country are born to unwed mothers. …Sports Illustrated reports that among professional athletes out-of-wedlock births are epidemic. And of athletes in the major sports leagues, those in the NBA appear to have the greatest number of cases.” The story is from 1998, but apparently not much has changed:

  • anonymous


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  • joy

    I hope all of these guys are real men and pay child support for their children.

  • You think these are bad, take a look at how many more kids walk out of a Utah Jazz game than walk in!

  • Chad

    Wow, if these atheletes are adding to the crop of strong able bodies men and women by donating their man juice to the women, why then are so many of us out of shape, weak and obese ?

    @Juice, the point is that atheletes get laid a lot, without even lifting a finger. So it is a thing to look up to and envy for all other of us ordinary men and boys… 🙂

  • OhMyGoddess

    I fail to see why this is anyone’s business. But if you are going to “out” these men, how about revealing the other (and probably the most significant) half of this equation – THE MOTHERS! Many of the women involved knew that these men were married or that they were “serial impregnators”. Why would a responsible women allow herself to conceive a child for whom the future would be so unstable? For a regular and substantial check each month? Paying child support doesn’t make a man a father. Knowing the child’s shoe size and the name of his/her teacher means so much more. Sitting up with the kid at night to chase the “monsters” away or putting a Band-Aid on that “boo-boo” is really what a child needs. Men need to stop being irresponsibly chasing every skirt they come across and women need to put their children’s future emotional stability before her present-day “gold digging” behaviors.

  • B

    Not sure how he misses all of these lists however former NBA Star Ralph Sampson has 10 kids by 7 women and has been charged with failure to pay child support