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.
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.