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How famous athletes got their jersey number

Joshua Loughren
Tom Brady’s famous number 12 doesn’t have the same sentimental stories as other athletes.


In sports, jersey numbers often have special meanings for athletes. Numbers can represent anything from childhood heroes to important events.

For example, Michael Jordan picked the number 23 because he looked up to his older brother, Larry, who wore the number 45. Michael wanted to be at least half as good as Larry, and half of 45 is 22.5, so he rounded up to 23. This number became legendary during his career with the Chicago Bulls.

Hockey star Wayne Gretzky wanted to wear the number nine for his hero, Gordie Howe, but it was taken. His coach suggested he double it, so he chose 99. This number became famous with his incredible success in hockey.

“Why don’t I just give you two nines,” said Jonathan Barquet via SPORTSNET.

Lionel Messi wears number 10 for Barcelona and Argentina. The number 10 is traditionally worn by the best player on the team. Following in the footsteps of Diego Maradona, Messi embraced this number and became one of the greatest footballers ever. Messi followed Maradona’s footsteps because he was one of his favorite players growing up.

Tom Brady’s number 12 jersey is famous in NFL history. In college, he wore number ten, but it was taken when he joined the New England Patriots, so he chose 12. This number became part of his legend and was linked to many Super Bowl wins.

Cristiano Ronaldo is known as “CR7” because of his number seven jersey. When he joined Manchester United in 2003, he was given the number seven, previously worn by legends like George Best and David Beckham. He kept this number when he moved to Real Madrid, making CR7 his brand. Ronaldo wears the number seven because of Sir Alex Ferguson who convinced Ronaldo to wear the number he does today.

LeBron James wore 23 in high school and with the Cleveland Cavaliers because he admired Michael Jordan. When he moved to the Miami Heat, he switched to number six to honor his second hero, Julius Erving, who wore six in the ABA. He also wore six with the Los Angeles Lakers.

These athletes’ jersey numbers reflect their personal stories, inspirations, and dreams. Their numbers have become a big part of who they are, adding more meaning to their amazing careers.

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About the Contributors
Connor Doherty
Connor Doherty, Features Writer
Joshua Loughren
Joshua Loughren, Photographer
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