In today’s wired world of smartphones and the Internet, it seems every little Johnny and Jackie has a youth sports highlight posted somewhere on YouTube or social media. It seems hard to believe YouTube has only been around since 2005. After we stumbled across an old high school highlight video of a player who is now in the NFL Hall of Fame, we started wondering: What else is out there on YouTube? Here are a few fun sports highlights of future sports greats while they were still in high school, or even younger.
10. Odell Beckham Jr. Dominates High School Rivals
There are no one-handed grabs here, but there are some great change-of-direction moves that show Beckham’s burst of speed. The punt return that begins just after the 45-second mark is really ridiculous.
9. NASCAR Legend Jeff Gordon Races at Age 7
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon hung up his racing helmet after the 2015 season at the age of 44. This rare clip from the late 1970s shows the 7-year-old Gordon racing Quarter Midgets. The interactions between Jeff and his stepfather, John Bickford, and his one-man “pit stop” are priceless. Jeff says he is “pretty sure” he wants to be a race-car driver when he grows up.
8. Teen Bryce Harper Beats Pros in Home Run Derby
One of the top power hitters in baseball today, Bryce Harper flashed that long-ball potential at an early age. Here is Harper at age 16 absolutely crushing baseballs in a home run derby against minor-league baseball players. We can only guess at how far some of these balls went, but judging from the people in the back of the grandstands looking directly overhead as balls fly out of the park, they were bombs. Harper won the event.
7. Michael Phelps Whips the Competition at Age 11
Long before he became the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, Michael Phelps had to work his way up through age group swimming. Even as a kid, he stood out in the pool. Here’s a video his mother, Debbie, shared a few years ago of 11-year-old Michael thrashing the competition. It’s interesting to note that Phelps’ prerace routine, the swinging arms, etc., remains much the same today.
6. Julius Erving Becomes a Legend on the Playground
This is some great footage from NBA TV’s feature The Doctor showing a young Julius Erving playing at Harlem’s famous Rucker Park, around 1970. Check out the scenes later in the clip showing all the local kids standing on rooftops, highway bridges and even climbing trees hoping to catch a glimpse of the guy some called “Black Moses.” There are some great anecdotes from a few NBA players who played against the teenaged Dr. J. In one playground game, Erving dunked the ball so hard it hit an NBA player in the head and knocked some of his teeth out.
5. Barry Sanders Flashes Unique Style in High School
Apologies for the grainy video clips, but here is one of the NFL’s greatest running backs of all time unleashing his trademark jitterbug style of broken-field running in high school in Wichita, Kansas. Watching these highlights, it’s hard to believe only three colleges recruited Sanders coming out of high school.
4. Todd Frazier Homers in Little League World Series
The Cincinnati Reds third baseman is a two-time All Star who won the 2015 Home Run Derby in the Reds’ home ballpark. Here he is at age 12, leading off a Little League World Series game with a home run. He’d later strike out the final hitter to clinch the series win for Toms River, N.J.
3. LeBron James Flashes Greatness as Prep Sophomore
Even as a 16-year-old, LeBron James had so much talent and court awareness that rumors circulated he planned to become the first player to attempt to enter the NBA before finishing high school. Instead, he finished high school, and became the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft after his senior season. There are numerous highlight videos from James’ high school and AAU days; here is a local TV news feature made about him during his sophomore season.
2. Tiger Woods Appears on ‘That’s Incredible!’ at Age 5
Long before he began winning Masters and collecting mistresses, Tiger Woods was a preschooler with a gift for golf. Beginning at age 2, Tiger and his father, Earl, made appearances on TV programs showing off young Tiger’s golfing prowess. Tiger made a memorable appearance at age 2 on The Mike Douglas Show, where he amazed Douglas and guest Bob Hope with his skills. Here’s a clip of the 5-year-old Woods appearing on the old show That’s Incredible! Woods vows, “When I’m going to be 20 I’m going to beat Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.”
1. Stephen Curry, 14, Goes One on One With Brother
Given that Stephen Curry’s father, Dell, was an NBA star in the 1980s and ’90s, there are a few videos around showing young Steph hanging out with his father. Here’s a clip of 14-year-old Stephen playing his brother, Seth, one on one during an interview with the entire Curry family.