LeBron James set to be fourth father to play on same major pro sports team as his son after the Lakers draft Bronny

When Bronny James takes the court for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, LeBron James will become the fourth father to play on the same team as his son at the top level of American professional sports.

The Lakers took Bronny with the 55th overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft on Thursday in a move that had been speculated for months. Bronny declared for the draft after a tough freshman season at USC. He missed the start of the season after a heart issue and averaged less than five points in 25 games.

With LeBron opting into the last year of his deal with the Lakers and turning 40 in December, the chance for the Lakers to pair Bronny and the NBA’s biggest star was too enticing to pass up.

Once the Jameses play together, they’ll join Gordie Howe and his sons Mark and Marty, Tim Raines and Tim Raines Jr. and Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr. as the only other father/son combinations in any of the big four leagues' modern histories. Here’s a brief look at how the Howes and Griffeys fared together.

(Original Caption) A little fatherly advice as hockey great Gordie Howe accepts a gold puck from his sons and teammates Mark and Marty Howe (c) in recognition of his 1,000th goal. The presentation was made before the Whalers game in Hartford, 12/14, against the Soviet All-Stars.
Gordie Howe played with his sons Mark and Marty with the Hartford Whalers. (Getty Images)

Gordie Howe was in his 50s and playing with the Hartford Whalers with his sons in the WHA when the league ceased operations in 1979. The Whalers subsequently joined the NHL for the 1979-80 season, and the Howes became the first father and sons to play together in American pro sports history.

Gordie remarkably played 80 games in the season he turned 52 and had 15 goals and 26 assists. Mark, a defenseman, played in 74 games and was third on the team with 80 points thanks to 24 goals and 56 assists. Marty Howe, a year older than his brother, appeared in six games that season and had an assist.

The Whalers made the playoffs despite a 27-34-19 record that season and were eliminated in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens. Gordie Howe retired after that season to cap a career that started as an 18-year-old with the Detroit Red Wings in 1946 and included 21 All-Star appearances. Mark Howe played through the 1995 season and is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, while Marty Howe’s last season came in 1984-85.

The elder Raines spent the first 12 years of his career with the Montreal Expos and returned to Canada for his penultimate season in 2001. At the time, Tim Jr. was playing in the Baltimore Orioles' system, allowing them to play against each other when Tim Sr. was on a rehab assignment in Triple-A.

They went from opponents to teammates later in the season, when the Expos traded Tim Sr. to the Orioles at the end of the season. Tim Jr. had made his MLB debut days earlier, so they took the field together on Oct. 4.

5 Oct 2001:  Baltimore Orioles left fielder Tim Raines Sr. #30 poses with his son, Baltimore Orioles center fielder Tim Raines Jr. #63 before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles played at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Red Sox shut out the Orioles 5-0.
Tim Raines made the Hall of Fame because of what he did with the Expos, but his Orioles career had a special moment. (Getty Images)

Tim Sr. would spend one more season with the Florida Marlins before ending his Hall of Fame career, while Tim Jr. spent of his career at Triple-A and in foreign leagues.

Ken Griffey Sr. was playing for the Atlanta Braves when Ken Griffey Jr. was chosen No. 1 overall by the Seattle Mariners in the 1987 MLB Draft. After he was cut by the Braves in the middle of the 1988 season, Griffey Sr. signed with the Cincinnati Reds, the team he started his career with in 1973.

A year later, Ken Griffey Jr. made his debut for the Mariners as a 19-year-old rookie in 1989. After 127 games his first season, Griffey Jr. made his first All-Star team at the age of 20 in 1990. Roughly six weeks after the All-Star Game, the Reds released Griffey Sr.

Five days after he was released, Griffey Sr. signed with the Mariners on Aug. 29 as they became the first father and son to play together in Major League Baseball. On Sept. 14, 1990, the two hit back-to-back home runs against the Los Angeles Angels.

Griffey Sr. returned to the Mariners for the 1991 season at the age of 41, but played in just 30 games in his final season in the big leagues. Griffey Jr. made the second of 11 consecutive All-Star Game appearances that season as he became one of baseball’s biggest stars in the 1990s.