Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Who Is The Best Athlete You Ever Saw Live?

I think this will be fun. Today, I want to read stories about the best athlete you ever saw play live before they were stars, if they even became stars at all. Maybe this was your brother or a kid you played against in Little League, but saying that you saw Troy Polamalu make an incredible interception as a member of the Steelers is not what we're looking for here.

Since this is my blog, I'll go first. Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I was fortunate enough to see plenty of amazing athletes. My high school football team regularly competed for the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League ("WPIAL") Championship and included future NFL players like Steve Breaston, Ryan Mundy, Lousaka Polite, Shawntae Spencer and Rob Gronkowski (for one season), though these guys were after my time. Tirrell Greene was an offensive lineman for my high school and later became an All-American at the University of Miami, and although I feel that he paved the way for future Woodland Hills graduates to play in college, I don't remember seeing him play live.

While my high school produced numerous NFL players, it was an opponent that makes the top of my list. As a college freshman home for Thanksgiving break, I attended a playoff game between Woodland Hills and North Hills. North Hills had a freshman running back that seemed bigger and faster than everyone on the field and ran for over 200 yards in a victory over the Wolverines. He also played linebacker, ended up going to Penn State, was the #2 overall draft pick for Washington, a 3-time Pro Bowler and now co-hosts a radio show in DC. His name was and is LaVar Arrington.

Some people who know me probably thought my answer would be Jason Taylor who graduated a year before me. I remember Taylor as being an awkward basketball player who hadn’t grown into his body yet and made only a few catches as a tight end. I never thought he would inspire Giant Jason Taylor.

Honorable mentions:

Gerald Thompson, Woodland Hills RB, who I thought was going to be a star after running for 1,600 yards and 25 TDs.

Brandon Short of McKeesport HS who later played for the New York Giants.

Michael Keyes of Woodland Hills who was a really good basketball point guard. He wasn’t flashy, but was a great leader and always seemed to make the right decision. He played D1 basketball at Towson.

Nia S. – When I was in junior high, I was responsible for shadowing her for nearly an entire soccer game. I felt extremely fortunate that I held her to only one goal and my team won. I believe that she’s a doctor now.

Your turn. Share who the best athlete you ever saw live in the comments section below.


MCOLE said...

I saw a lot of great athletes playing high school football over the years. Frank Gore is probably the best football player I've seen. But for your enjoyment I'll tell the tale of a gangly, awkward, scrawny white boy who came off the bench to play basketball for Killian High School against my beloved Sunset High. This freshman kid, who's arms seemed to go down to his knees, just started jacking up three pointers and kept hitting them like they were layups. He didn't play for long stretches, I'm guessing because he was a freshman, but he just kept shooting threes. Somehow we managed to win the game on a last second shot. That white guy is still playing in the NBA today. He is none other than Steve Blake.

Anonymous said...

Fyi SJ. Jason was home schooled. And Arrington played against us your senior year. My answer would be Lebron James before his cover on SI in high school.

Sean said...

MCole - Gore is a good pick. I like the Steve Blake story too. I always thought of Blake as a passer more than a shooter

Anonymous - I'm well aware that Taylor was home-schooled. Still remember seeing him play though. I'll have to look up when LaVar faced Woodland Hills. I was pretty sure I was in college. Oh, LeBron turned out to be an above average player!

Bram Reichbaum said...

Somehow I was convinced to go to trendy upscale nightclub in Station Square called WHIM to celebrate an acquaintance's birthday. Somebody informs me, "You see that guy over there with the dreadlocks? He's the Pirates new rookie, Andrew McCutchen." He was drinking a cocktail in a plastic cup in a corner completely by himself, even though word was circulating. But if everyone else felt like I did, they couldn't imagine what to say to a brand new Pirate. "Sorry, dude. Bad luck. Do you completely suck or do you think you'll get good eventually once we trade you?"

Sean said...

To Anonymous - Woodland Hills-North Hills was definitely 1993 when I was in college. http://wpial.org/archives/champs/team_f.htm

Bram Reichbaum said...

Oh shoot sorry, you wrote "play". Well, I tackled Curtis Martin in high school gym class (2-hand touch). And I went to one varsity football game, where he dominated. Probably should have answered that anyway.

Sean said...

Bram - Tackling Curtis Martin in gym class is a good story. Seeing Cutch in a bar may not be as impressive unless he was the best darts or beer pong player you ever saw!