15 Sets of Athletic Twins

filed under: Sports
Image credit: 
Getty Images

There may be plenty of sibling athletes, but it's twice as nice for these 15 pairs of twins from the world of sports.

1. Mike and Marlin McKeever

The University of Southern California's football team recruited the McKeever twins—Mike and Marlin—in the late 1950s in the hope that their toughness would help revitalize the program. With Marlin playing defensive end (among other positions) and Mike at guard, the brothers became the first twins to earn All-American status and even made the cover of Sports Illustrated (which called them "the twin holy terrors of Los Angeles' Mount Carmel High School"). Mike would suffer a head injury that derailed his shot at the pros, but Marlin was selected in the first round of the NFL draft and spent 13 years in the league. Off the field, the twins also delved into acting, playing the Siamese cyclops twins in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules.

2. Paul and Morgan Hamm

The Hamm twins were big hits for the U.S. gymnastics team at the 2004 Summer Olympics, with Paul winning the gold medal in the all-around and both brothers helping the U.S. team to a silver medal finish. The two took some time off after the 2004 games, and ultimately did not compete in 2008. But there's also a persistent question about the brothers: nobody's clear on whether they're actually fraternal or identical twins. Slate's Josh Levin broke down the mystery in 2004.

3. Alvin and Calvin Harrison

In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Alvin and Calvin became the first twins to win gold medals on the same relay team, running the first (Alvin) and third (Calvin) legs of the United States' 4x400 meter team. Unfortunately, things went south after that. Both brothers were accused of using banned substances, and their gold medals were eventually stripped when a teammate copped to doping. Alvin accepted a four-year suspension and transferred his allegiance to the Dominican Republic, where he competed after his ban ended. But Calvin poured his life savings into fighting the doping charge before losing his job as a personal trainer in the recession, and ended up homeless in San Diego.

4. Rich and Ron Sutter

Rich and Ron are just two members of the prolific Sutter family, which sent six brothers to the NHL (a seventh had a tryout, but opted out of the sport). Ron was the highest drafted of the six, going fourth overall to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1982, while Rich went 10th overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The two ended up as teammates on the Flyers for three seasons, then spent three more campaigns together with the St. Louis Blues. The hockey gene seems to have carried on—two Sutter men in the next generation have played in the NHL, a third was drafted, and two more are in the Western Hockey League.

5. Jose and Ozzie Canseco

Jose Canseco was one of the best hitters of all time, hitting 462 home runs in a career that included an MVP season and four Silver Slugger awards. Of course, steroids may have had something to do with that—he owned up to using them in 2005 and has since stated that many major leaguers use performance-enhancing drugs. People won't accuse his twin brother Ozzie of using steroids—he played just 24 games in the major leagues (including one spell with his brother in Oakland) and never hit a single home run. Now Ozzie manages the Edinburg Roadrunners in the United League.

6. The Steben Twins

Karyne and Sarah Steben have built long careers as gymnasts and entertainers, working for 17 years in Cirque du Soleil and even playing a pair of conjoined twins on HBO's Carnivale. Their specialty is the trapeze, where they innovated the feet-to-feet catching technique. They've credited their twin connection with helping them on the trapeze, saying that it actually helps them understand each other and get in sync.

7. Henrik and Daniel Sedin

Before entering the 1999 NHL draft, the Sedin twins looked for ways to end up on the same team. Why were they so bent on staying together? As Vancouver Canucks scout Thomas Gradin said, "They're good enough to play with anyone, but separately their capacity might decrease by 10 or 15 percent." The Canucks were able to make a series of trades to end up with the second and third overall picks that netted them both twins, who have already led the team to a pair of Stanley Cup appearances.

8. Coco and Kelly Miller

The twin basketball stars were standouts at the University of Georgia, even jointly winning the James E. Sullivan Award in 1999 for the nation's top amateur athlete—the first time the award went to multiple recipients. After graduating with biology degrees, the Miller sisters landed in the WNBA, with Kelly going to the Charlotte Sting and Coco joining the Washington Mystics. They've bounced around teams, even spending time as teammates with the Atlanta Dream in 2010.

9. The Usos

The Samoan brothers Jimmy and Jey Uso made their WWE debut with their manager Tamina in 2010, attacking the Hart Dynasty, and haven't let up since. They're far from the only twin team on the WWE circuit, which includes pairings like the Bella Twins, Kent and Keith Cole, The Headhunters, and Gymini.

10. Hiromi and Takami Ominami

Japanese twin runners Hiromi and Takami Ominami have each won a handful of races, each placing first in a pair of marathons. But perhaps their most interesting record is their status as the fastest marathoning sisters of all time.

11. Rex and Rob Ryan

The twin sons of legendary NFL coach and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan have found success in the family business. Rex is the head coach of the New York Jets, while Rob is currently the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. The two have squared off a number of times, but Rex holds the clear upper hand, with his teams winning all five matchups against Rob's defense (most recently on Nov. 3 when the Jets scored a 26-20 upset of the Saints). Rex even successfully trolled his brother by dressing up like him before a 2010 game between the Jets and Rob's Cleveland Browns.

12. Bob and Mike Bryan

As mirror twins (one is right-handed, the other left), tennis's Bryan brothers are an unusual doubles team. That may be a factor in their unprecedented success: they've won more games, tournaments, and Grand Slams than any other doubles pairing, and have held the top spot in the world doubles rankings for 344 weeks. As children, they were actually barred from ever playing each other in competitive matches and if they were ever paired up in a tournament bracket, their parents had them alternate forfeits.

13. Heather and Heidi Burge

The Burge twins—both 6'5"—made waves at the University of Virginia by leading the team to three straight Final Four appearances between 1990 and 1992. The two then went on to play in the WNBA, Heidi for the Los Angeles Sparks and the Washington Mystics and Heather for a year with the Sacramento Monarchs. The twins' life story was celebrated in the Disney Channel movie Double Teamed, which erroneously shows the two facing off against each other in the WNBA. In truth, they were never in the league at the same time.

14. Ronde and Tiki Barber

After successful stints at the University of Virginia, running back Tiki Barber and cornerback Ronde Barber were each selected in the 1997 NFL Draft. Tiki would become the New York Giants' all-time rushing leader over a 10-year career, while Ronde became an all-pro defensive back and, among other accomplishments, the only NFL player in history with at least 40 interceptions and 20 sacks. Since retiring, the two have co-authored eight children's books and have entered the media world. Ronde is an analyst with Fox Sports 1, while TIki's eclectic TV career has included a stint on Today.

15. Herbert and Wilfred Baddeley

As doubles partners, Herbert and Wilfred Baddeley made an intimidating pair on the tennis court. They won the Wimbledon doubles championship four times between 1891 and 1896. Wilfred also won three singles championships at Wimbledon before both brothers retired from the sport to focus on legal careers.

More from mental_floss...

November 15, 2013 - 9:15pm
submit to reddit