By Daniel Bukszpan
Professional sports are full of sons who have taken up the mantle of their fathers and gone into the family business. There's Bobby and Barry Bonds. There's Archie Manning, who spawned a professional football dynasty in his sons Eli and Peyton. And then there's the Ken Griffeys and the Cal Ripkens, junior and senior.
|Slideshow: Father and son pro athletes|
Unlike some who follow their fathers into the family business, none of these pro athlete sons can be accused of gaining their careers through nepotism. They may have famous pedigrees that make coaches interested in them initially, but the fact is they still have to be able to cut it on the playing field or on the court, or they'll simply get cut from the team. Fans and shareholders will see to that.
Here are some professional athlete fathers whose sons have followed in their footsteps:
Howie Long, Chris Long
Fans of mediocre action movies may remember Howie Long from his supporting role alongside John Travolta in the 1996 film "Broken Arrow." However, acting is just one of Long's many skills, including a stint with the Raiders football team that was so long that the team moved from Oakland to Los Angeles in the middle of it. Today, Long is an NFL analyst for Fox. Howie's son Chris Long has played football for the Rams since 2008, when he signed a six-year deal with the team worth $56.5 million, $29 million of which was guaranteed. He turned out to be such a good investment for the team that in 2011 his contract was restructured to include a signing bonus of more than $12 million and a base salary of over $10 million for 2012.
Joe Bryant, Kobe Bryant
Joe "Jellybean" Bryant distinguished himself as a player for such NBA teams as the 76ers, San Diego Clippers and Rockets. If the dream of all parents is to see their children do better than they did, then Bryant must be a happy man. His son is none other than Kobe Bryant, who has been a loyal member of the Lakers since 1996. His career hit a major stumbling block in 2003 when he was accused of sexual assault. The case was later dropped, however, and Bryant went back to the business of repairing his public image. Bryant led the NBA in scoring records several times since 2005, won the Most Valuable Player Award, and almost broke superstar player Wilt Chamberlain’s single game scoring record.
Jesse Barfield was an outfielder for the Blue Jays from 1981 to 1989, and the Yankees from 1989 to 1992. Career highlights included hitting 20 home runs and stealing 20 bases in the 1985 season. The following year he made the All-Star Team and won the Gold Glove Award. He played reasonably well when he joined the Yankees, but his performance was not up to the standard of his mid-1980s glory days. His oldest son Josh is a second baseman. He debuted as a major leaguer with the Padres in 2006, who promptly traded him to the Indians that same year. He currently plays for the Phillies' minor league team. His younger brother, Jeremy, made headlines in 2006 when he pushed their father down a flight of stairs after an argument.
Gerald played for the Knicks during the 1980s. But for the presence of Patrick Ewing on the team, Wilkins would have been the team's highest scorer -- his second-place standing was impressive nonetheless. Wilkins became a Cavalier in 1992, but his career with that team was notable mainly for the amount of time that he was sidelined with injuries. He finished out his playing days with the Magic. Gerald's son Damien had a tough journey to the NBA. He first entered the NBA Draft in 2001, but didn't end up on a team until the SuperSonics added him in 2004. Wilkins stayed with the team until 2009, eventually moving on to the Timberwolves. He is currently a member of the Hawks.
Cecil Fielder, Prince Fielder
Cecil Fielder is best known for his hitting on such teams as the Blue Jays and Yankees, but his longest tenure was a six-year stretch with the Detroit Tigers, during which he became the only player in baseball history to hit a home run completely outside of the park at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Fielder is the father of Prince Fielder, a formidable hitter in his own right who made the roster of the Brewers in 2002 at the tender age of 18. He currently holds the team's all-time record for home runs in a single season and is the youngest player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit 50 home runs in a single season. Not just any batter has been able to hit 50 or more home runs in a single season -- one of the few who has been able to do it is none other than Prince’s father, Cecil.
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