Famous Athletes and their Numbers

Story by Mark Carlisle


#37/#6. Derek Fisher. NBA.

Fisher wore No. 2 with the Lakers where he spent most of his career. At age 37, he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I figured since everybody likes to throw my age around in negative conversations, I’d just go put it out there and let everybody know from the beginning, I am 37, but I think I can do some great things to help this team.”

Later, he changed to No. 6.

“I just wanted a reminder as to not just singularly why I’m here, but that’s a big reason why I’m still playing, is to win.”


#21. Milton Bradley. MLB.

Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 was retired throughout Major League Baseball in 1997.

“You know, you can’t wear 42 anymore, so I always said, 21 is half of 42; if I can be half of the player, half of the person, Jackie Robinson was, then I will have been a success. That’s my motto.”


#3 Chris Paul. NBA.

Paul’s father and older brother Charles Paul and C.J. Paul are CP1 and CP2, so he wanted to be CP3.


#3 Dwyane Wade. NBA.

Wade, a devout Christian, picked his number in honor of the Holy Trinity.


#0. Gilbert Arenas. NBA.

“Zero is the number of minutes people predicted I would play my freshman year at (the University of) Arizona. I decided to go with it because I love proving people wrong.”


#23/#6. Lebron James. NBA.

James wore No. 23 in high school and when he began his career with the Cavaliers. When he signed with Miami, he wore No. 6. Back with the Cavaliers, he is again wearing No. 23.

“I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it.”

“My second-favorite player was Julius Erving, and he wore No. 6. I wore 32 in high school because Dr. J wore it at first. My first child was born on Oct. 6, it’s my Olympic number, and my second child was born in June.”


#37. Ron Artest. NBA.

Artest, now Metta World Peace, wore 37 in honor of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album, which spent 37 weeks atop the pop charts.


#35. Kevin Durant. NBA.

Durant’s youth basketball coach and mentor Charles “Big Chucky” Craig was murdered at age 35. Durant was 16 at the time.

"I just want as many people as I can to know why I wear it and the significance of the number. That’s my goal is to get him out there and keep his name alive.”


#0. Damien Lillard. NBA.

“I chose it because I’m from Oakland, I went to school in Ogden and now I play in Oregon.”


#18. Peyton Manning. NFL.

Cooper Manning, the eldest Manning brother, was headed to play football at the University of Mississippi when he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. The diagnosis meant an end to his football career as one bad hit could have paralyzed him. As a tribute to his brother, Peyton wear’s Cooper’s No. 18.


#24/#22. Robinson Cano. MLB.

Pitching great Roger Clemens, who pitched for the Yankees from 1999 to 2003, was eyeing a return to the team for the 2007 season. Cano vacated Clemens’ old number, 22, and switched to 24 because the team thought it might help lure Clemens to the club. Clemens did join the Yankees for the final season of his 24-year career.

“I was happy to give up the number to a future Hall of Famer if Roger comes aboard.”

Cano picked 24 in honor Jackie Robinson, as it is an inverse of his No. 42, which is retired throughout Major League Baseball.

Cano signed with Seattle in 2014, and while the number 24 was closely attached with Ken Griffey Jr., the team had not officially retired it. Cano, however, still switched back to his old number 22 out of respect.

“We all know what he meant to this city and who he was and what kind of player. He's a future Hall of Famer. You don't go to a Hall of Famer and ask, 'Can I use your number?' You have to show him respect.”


#27/#28. Joe Girardi. MLB.

When Girardi was hired as the Yankees manager in 2008, the team had 26 World Series championships. Girardi wore 27 to remind his team what they were chasing. After the Yankees won their 27th championship in 2009, he switch to No. 28.

“We do want to move forward and try to win No. 28 for this organization and the great city of New York, because we have a wonderful group here, we have wonderful fans here. … As far as this organization, you're expected to win every year.”


#09. Benito Santiago. MLB.

Santiago, a catcher, first wore No. 9, but he didn’t like the way his chest protector’s strap made the number rub against his back. By switching to 09, the strap ran between the two digits.


#22. Jason Heyward. MLB.

Heyward wears 22 in honor of his high school teammate and best friend Andrew Wilmot, who wore 22 in high school and died in a car accident when he was in college.

Heyward hit a 414-foot home run on the first swing of his major-league career. Eugene Heyward, Jason’s father, was sitting with Tammie Ruston, Wilmot’s mother, during the home run.

"I saw her and gave her a great big hug and said, 'I like that jersey,'" Eugene Heyward said. "She said, 'I like it, too.' It's just unbelievable. It's something that will bring tears to your eyes."

When Heyward was traded to St. Louis, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny gave up the number so Heyward could wear it.


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