Athletes talk about favorite Christmas toys

December, 21, 2012
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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