For professional athletes and celebrities, their names are basically their entire identity. Superstars like Michael Jordan, David Ortiz, and Peyton Manning have turned their names into successful brands that earn millions well after their playing days have been over.
There is a slew of other well-known athletes, however, who don’t even use their real names. For whatever reason, they feel their legal names aren’t flashy or marketable enough.
Here’s a list of athletes who use fake names rather than the ones their parents gave them. You may know some of them, but I’m fairly certain a few will surprise you.
Tiger, one of the greatest golfers to ever play the sport, was born Eldrick Tont Woods. The name paid homage to his father, Earl, and his mother, Kultida. Tiger’s legal name starts with the letter E and ends with the letter K.
He took on the Tiger moniker as a tribute to his dad’s friend, Col. Vuong Dang Phong, who went by the same nickname. Tiger is a fitting name for how the five-time Masters champion rips through the course.
Current Los Angeles Dodgers outfield Mookie Betts’ name is fun to say. His legal name, Markus Lynn, is not. The reason why his parents gave this name, however, is very interesting.
Allegedly, Mookie’s parents wanted his initials to match the acronym MLB. But as an infant, they started calling him Mookie because they were huge fans of former NBA star Mookie Blaylock. The nickname stuck and has become a household moniker.
More of a street brawler turned internet sensation, Kimbo Slice’s given name is Kevin Ferguson. His participation in violent underground fight clubs parlayed into a career in MMA and boxing.
Pegged with the nickname Kimbo as a kid, one of his earliest internet fights resulted in him leaving a large cut over the eye of an opponent. The internet dubbed him “Slice” and the rest is history. Unfortunately, Ferguson passed away in 2016 at the age of 42.
While Bo knows baseball, football, and a litany of other things, do you know Bo Jackson’s legal name? The athletic phenom was born Vincent Edward Jackson, a much longer name than just two letters.
Bo is actually one of only a few professional athletes who were named an All-Star in two different sports. Rumor has it that Jackson’s nickname was given to him while he was young because he displayed the aggressiveness and the ferocity of a boar.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was given his nickname by his father because he thought the little chunker looked like former NFL defensive end Bubba Smith. Watson was actually born Gerry Lester Watson.
While the Florida native never grew up to play professional football, he did find a way to make millions without getting beat to a pulp every week. He chose the gentler game of golf and has been quite successful. I’m sure a green jacket fits him better than a helmet and pads.