Athletes talk about favorite Christmas toys

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
10:00
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Jerry Rice, Shaquille O'Neal, Danica PatrickAP Photo, Getty ImagesJerry Rice, Shaquille O'Neal and Danica Patrick all have interesting stories about Christmas.
With Christmas just a few days away, Playbook decided to ask several athletes about their favorite Christmas present as a child. (Well, Shaq is always childlike, so he answered differently.)

Danica Patrick, NASCAR driver
"I remember one year my mom told me I needed to dress warm for my Christmas present. I was thinking, 'Why would I need to do that if I'm just going to hang posters in my room?' Then my dad came ripping through the front yard on a four-wheeler. My sister and I got little four-wheelers. My yard was never the same again."

Shaquille O'Neal, NBA Hall of Famer
"I wasn't a kid, but I remember when I was in college at LSU. I always wanted a big, gold, rope chain like LL Cool J. I didn't have a lot of money, but I did get it. I had some cheaper ones also, all different sizes. Today, I'm a doctor and a businessman, so I can't wear them. I have to look more classy."

Steve Young, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback
"I had a single-gear bike as a child. I was trying to catch up to my friends who were a little older. Then I got a 10-speed bike; I was flying all over town. I remember getting it Christmas morning and I didn't get off it until July 4. It changed my life."

Gabby Douglas, Olympic gymnastics champion
"It was a bike and a trampoline. I was about 9 years old. I was so excited because I could do backflips on the trampoline with my brother. We would have contests. With the bike, I rode around the neighborhood. That was fun also."

Lawrence Tynes
Neilson Barnard/Getty ImagesLawrence Tynes, flanked by Santa Claus, remembers getting a Transformers watch for Christmas.
Lawrence Tynes, kicker for the New York Giants
"When I was 8, I was really into Transformers, so my parents got me a Transformers watch. It obviously told time, but it changed into different things. That's something that still to this day, I still think about 25 years later. Me and my brother all got them."

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins wide receiver
"I remember getting a bike as a kid. I was so happy. I still remember that feeling. It's like the same feeling I get playing in the NFL."

Kurt Warner, NFL football legend
"Living in Iowa, I didn't have a sports team to gravitate to except for what I saw on TV, and that was the Dallas Cowboys. So one Christmas, I got an electronic football game, the kind that vibrates. It was the Denver Broncos versus the Dallas Cowboys. I loved that game. Another time, I remember getting a Dallas Cowboys helmet radio. It would sit on my dresser. I'd listen to that all the time. I can still visualize the hours I spent playing with those two things."

Brad Keselowski, NASCAR Sprint Cup champion
"Today, I have everything I could ever ask for. I could get a yacht or something, but I have everything I need. I'm pretty blessed. I do remember one time as a kid getting a go-kart. Now that was pretty cool."

Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots linebacker
"I was 5 years old when my grandfather got me a wooden tractor-trailer set. I rolled it around the whole house. I remember it like it was today. I was so happy!"


Jerry Rice, NFL Hall of Fame receiver

"I remembered getting a football. I could barely carry it, but I would toss it around. I was around 8 years old. I had wanted one every year. I was dreaming of playing for the Dallas Cowboys, America's team. I wanted to play with Roger Staubach, Tony Hill and Drew Pearson."

[+] EnlargeShawn Johnson
NikeOlympic champion Shawn Johnson has always been interested in exercise.
Shawn Johnson, Olympic gymnastics gold medalist
"That's easy. It was my first bike without training wheels. I don't really know how old I was. It still sticks out today. It was one of the greatest things ever. It was bright purple. No tassels. I always wanted a big bike like the older girls. I was pretty hardcore."


Don Shula, NFL Hall of Fame coach

"Christmas is always something special for me and the excitement it can bring to your family. As a child, I would always get something sports-related. It was either a new baseball glove, new spikes or a new ball. My parents knew that I would use it and appreciate it."

Stacy Keibler, former NFL cheerleader
"I remember one year getting my own phone line. I was in middle school. That was really cool. I also got a beeper. I didn't have any issues with my parents' monitoring my calls."

Louie Vito, snowboarding champion
"I grew up in Ohio and I remember getting a snowboard too big for me. I started learning to ride in just regular boots also. It was the coolest thing. I am frothing thinking over all that stuff."

Eve Torres, WWE Diva and former NBA cheerleader
"I was into gymnastics as a kid, and one time I got a balance beam. That was the best present ever! It was a little training one, and I loved that beam."

Dominique Wilkins, NBA Hall of Famer
"The biggest Christmas gift I got as a kid was a 10-speed bike. That was my biggest gift. Growing up in Baltimore with eight brothers and sisters with one parent, I wasn't getting a lot of things as a kid. But I do remember that bike. I rode it until it fell apart."

Marcus Allen, NFL Hall of Famer
"I have an interesting story. We had this wonderful Christmas. We got everything we wanted. I was about 10 or 11 years old. The date, I think, was Jan. 5. My little brother and sister were playing with matches and set a portion of the house on fire. All the toys were destroyed. We ended up getting mini-bikes as replacements. To me, that was one of the best Christmases ever."

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