17-year-old basketball star Jabari Parker landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.By our count, he’s the 15th child sports genius to grace the prestigious cover since 1966. So we went back and took a look at how those alleged prodigies panned out.
The results were a bit surprising — some flopped, many had so-so careers, and only a select few became true stars.
Rick Mount played five unremarkable seasons in the ABA after his 1966 SI cover. As of 2003, he was living in his hometown working as a police officer
Tom McMillen played in the NBA for 11 seasons, but never averaged more than 9 points after his 1970 SI cover. He then became a congressmen in the late-80s
Mike Peterson was a great high school baseball and basketball player in 1971. But he never played professionally and worked various jobs (like managing a JC Penny) in Kansas
Bruce Hardy played 12 NFL seasons after landing a 1974 SI cover, but never broke 500 receiving yards in any one season. He later went into coaching
Bobby Carpenter was the rare SI cover phenom to have an All-Star season. He was the third-overall pick in 1981 and scored 50 goals in a season. He won one Stanley Cup as a player and two as a coach
Kristie Phillips was the best gymnast in the country when she was on the cover in 1986. But she failed to qualify for the 1998 Olympics after struggling with her flexibility. Now, she runs a gym in North Carolina
Jon Peters was a Texas pitching prodigy in 1989. Two years later, he was forced to become a coach after tearing his rotator cuff. In 1997, he left baseball for good to go into teaching
Jennifer Capriati wasn't in high school at age 13 in 1990. But she was the first SI phenom who became a superstar years after her cover. She retired in 2004 after winning three Grand Slams
Kevin Garnett started the trend of high school players jumping to the NBA in 1995. He has lived up to the hype, winning an MVP and making 14 All-Star teams
Richie Parker's 1996 cover was more about his incredible story than his basketball ability. He never made the pros, and now works as a youth mentor in New York City
NYC phenom Sebastian Telfair went straight to the NBA after hitting the cover in 2004. He's bounced around the league since then, and played for the Suns this season
Bryce Harper hit the cover in 2009. Three years later, he's belting homers for the Washington Nationals
Jabari Parker is still 13 months from graduating high school, but he's already being hailed as the next LeBron
Overall: Landing the cover doesn't guarantee you a Hall of Fame ticket, or even a professional career
The 13 cover phenoms since 1966 are a mixed bag. Since Kevin Garnett in 1995, SI has gotten much better at identifying stars.
But it's still far from 100%, which is probably why SI has been so reluctant to put these kids on their covers in the last 56 years.
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