Social media has become an integral part of athlete branding over the years, and it seems like with each passing year sports fans get a better and better glimpse at the personal lives and characteristics of well-known athletes around the world. Like it or not, sports figures now routinely make headlines through their actions on social media alone, whether they be positive or negative.
With 2015 just about in the books, it’s a good time to look back at some of the most memorable moments from athletes over the past year.
Ronda Rousey and the Marine Ball
Before being knocked out by Holly Holm in November, it was a good year for Ronda Rousey. The UFC fighter was the most dominant force in MMA and seemed pretty much invincible, but she also had quite a lot going for her outside of the octagon. She made a few big screen appearances with roles in Furious 7 and Entourage, and also scored the lead in the upcoming Road House remake.
But her biggest social-media splash came when a U.S. Marine asked Rousey to attend the Marine Corps Ball with him. The fighter accepted the invitation and, after a bit of will-she-or-won’t-she drama, followed through on her promise and accompanied him to the event, even though she was still clearly bummed in the wake of her loss to Holm.
DeAndre Jordan and ‘The Indecision’
Not only was DeAndre Jordan’s flip-flop in free agency one of the weirdest stories of the NBA offseason, it also sparked a whole bunch of silly reactions on social media. After Jordan had second-thoughts about his agreement to join the Dallas Mavericks, Chandler Parsons managed to accidentally start a whole string of excessive emoji-ing as representatives from both the Clippers and Mavs scrambled to try and persuade Jordan to sign.
Jaromir Jagr and the Blackmailing Model
Over the summer, Jaromir Jagr encountered one of the dangers of social media when you’re a professional athlete looking to have a good time away from your sport. An 18-year-old model snapped a photo of a sleeping Jagr in bed after spending the night with him. She attempted to blackmail the 43-year-old Florida Panthers winger, telling him she would post the photo online if he didn’t give her $2,000.
Unfortunately for the would-be extortionist, Jagr told the girl “I don’t care,” which makes sense because he’s single. The girl went ahead and published the photo anyway, which doesn’t make a ton of sense because she’s reportedly dating Czech hockey prospect Domink Rudl, who calls Jagr his idol. Awkward.
Anyway, the photo ended up becoming a short-lived meme with some pretty fantastic results.
The Edmonton Oilers and ‘SpiderMable’
In September, the Edmonton Oilers — led by defenseman Andrew Ference — helped make a dream come true for 6-year-old Mable Tooke, who has leukemia. A staged kidnapping allowed Tooke to become a superhero for a day, similar to the BatKid of San Fransisco in 2013. Dressed like Spider-Man, Tooke became ‘SpiderMable’ and took to the streets of Edmonton to rescue Ference while the rest of the world followed along on social media.
Tom Brady and His MVP Dance Moves
It was a bit of a roller coaster year for Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback started off 2015 by winning his fifth Super Bowl with a thriller against the Seahawks, but then found himself at the center of the endless DeflateGate drama that dominated offseason headlines.
All the while, though, Brady (or whoever runs his social accounts) ruled Facebook with hilarious updates and Photoshops. His best share might have been this one, which pokes fun at Brady’s awkward dance moves during the team’s Super Bowl ring reception. He stole those moves from your dad, by the way.
Pablo Sandoval and The Instagram Suspension
After signing a rich deal in free agency last year, Pablo Sandoval’s first year with the Boston Red Sox was a disappointing one overall. The third baseman struggled at the plate and the Sox had yet another last place finish in the AL East. To make matters worse, Sandoval was caught using Instagram during the middle of a game thanks to Barstool Sports blogger Jared Carrabis, who tweeted out a screenshot of Sandoval liking a a woman’s photos.
With frustrations running high in Boston, the media ran with the story and the Red Sox were eventually forced to suspend Sandoval for a game as a result.
Steph Curry and The Curry Family
It’s possible that not one single athlete had a better 2015 than Steph Curry. The Warriors guard was the NBA’s MVP, won the NBA Championship, and then got off to a historic start to this season. It was also a pretty big year for his family, as Curry’s adorable young daughter Riley became an internet sensation thanks to her antics during a postgame press conference.
After that, there was really no turning back.
Steph and his wife, Ayesha, also welcomed a second daughter into their family.
But as adorable as the Curry children are, Steph and Ayesha still give them a run for their money.
If you don’t want to be a part of this family, I don’t want to know you.
Cardale Jones and the Twitter Burn
Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones had himself a great start to 2015, leading the Buckeyes to a national championship as the team’s third-string QB. Soon afterward, he established himself as a great Twitter follow thanks to his humor, especially when he attempted to pick up Ronda Rousey at the ESPY Awards.
But, in addition to being funny, Jones can also dish out some burns to Twitter trolls as well. After being criticized for voicing his opinion on a social issue, a Twitter basically told Jones to stick to football and stop being concerned about other things, to which Jones had a very great response.
Dan later deleted his account.
Torrey Smith and His Dancin’ Baby
It’s hard to argue that 2015 was the Year of the Sports Baby. Riley Curry may have dominated headlines, but Torrey Smith’s young son also won the hearts of so many people. The 49ers wide receiver shared videos of 2-year-old TJ unleashing some top-notch dance moves, and the world became a better place for it.
The Rock and, Well, Everything
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is just about the most indomitable social-media athlete on the planet right now, so it’s nearly impossible to pick just one specific highlight from this year, but this list would be irrelevant if it didn’t include something about The Rock. So…
There’s the time he saved a puppy from drowning.
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Here's a fun Labor Day weekend story… We just decided to add two new members to our Johnson family. Baby French Bulldogs. In my right hand is BRUTUS and in my left hand is HOBBS. Bring them home and immediately take them outside so they can start learning how to "handle their business and potty like big boys". I set them both down and they both take off in a full sprint and fall right into the deep end of our pool. HOBBS immediately starts doggy paddling while BRUTUS (like a brick) sink heads first to the bottom of the pool. I take off into a full sprint, fully clothed, dive in the pool, swim to the bottom, rescue my brick, I mean BRUTUS and bring him back to the edge of the pool. He was a little delirious.. took a moment, threw up all the water he swallowed and looked up at me as if to say, "Thank God you didn't have to give me mouth to mouth!" and then ran off to play with his brother. A few lessons I've learned today.. A) Not all puppies have the instinct to doggie paddle. B) Some puppies (like BRUTUS) will be so in shock by experiencing water they will sink extremely fast so react quick. C) While spiriting to save your puppies life, before you dive in, try and throw your cel phone to safety. Don't keep it in your pocket… like I did. #BRUTUSLives #HOBBSCanSwim #MyCelPhonesDead #AndNoMouthToMouthNeeded #HappyLaborDay
There’s the time he accidentally sideswiped a car and turned it into a great story.
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Here's a fun story to start your week off… I'm driving to set in my pick up truck – music blasting – I'm singing away like I'm having a one man party in my truck – then I hear a loud BANG. What the hell..? Look in my rear view and see I sideswiped another pick up that was parked in the street and destroyed the side mirror. First thing I thought was, "Aw shit.. someone's not gonna be happy..". I flipped a U-turn and drove back to scene. Just as I got out of my truck a guy was walking across the street to his truck. I said "Sir, is this your truck?". He stopped and stared at me for a good 5 seconds, looked around his neighborhood, looked back at me and "Yes it is. Why?". I said "Well, sorry to tell ya I sideswiped it and knocked the hell outta your mirror and may have done even more damage. You give me your info and I'll leave you mine and I'll take care of everything". He stared at me again, cocked his head sideways and said.."Uhhh.. Are you The Rock?". I said "Yup". He broke out into a huge smile and said "Wow, this is gonna be an awesome story!". I started belly laughing at that, then he started laughing and before you know it we're both standing in the middle of the street pointing to his mirror and laughing like two ol' crazy buddies. I checked back in with him a few days later and he refused to accept any money and said he fixed the damage himself. Want to thank Mr. Audie Bridges of Wakefield, Mass. for being so cool about the whole thing. Life is funny cause you never know who you're gonna run into… and sure as hell never know who's truck you're gonna sideswipe while driving to work.
There’s the time he helped a little girl pull an airplane.
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Real men just PRETEND to pull airplanes… 😂💙 #2015Favs "Yeah I'm pullin' a plane while some big bald man keeps photo bombing my shot.." When beautiful little 2yr old Kai visits our set and she wants to "pull the airplane" all by herself. Well, she gets to pull the airplane… all by herself. #GreatJobHoney #AmazingStrengthYouHave #UncleRockPullsAHamstring #OnSet #AwesomeMemories #CentralIntelligence
There’s the time he trolled everybody with a gross (but fake) broken finger.
There’s the time he made a random family’s Christmas wish come true.
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Maybe it's random or maybe it's holiday fate… either way it makes my heart sing… I decide to take a Sunday drive in my pick up to run errands and go train at my buddy's gym. As I'm driving down the road I see three young girls holding signs that just say "Beep", "Happy Holidays" etc. So I drive by and do what anyone would do.. I beep and wave. As I look in my rearview I can see that they're pointing at my truck (my all black pick up is pretty recognizable in our little country town). I go train and run my errands and over 3 HOURS later I'm driving back down our little backroad and the same three angels are standing by the side of the road – only this time they're jumping up and down, waving and screaming as I drove by. I thought, "Did those signs say my name?"…"Should I turn around just in case?" I decide to hit the brakes and look in my rearview and in that very moment I see them going BONKERS! I flipped a U-turn and drove back to them. They were elated. So was I. These little angels waited outside for over 3 hours for me to hopefully drive back down their road.. their mom and dad came running out and we all exchanged hugs and took pics. I made sure I got a pic with my phone, wished them all Happy Holidays, got back in my truck and went on my way. The coolest part of this whole random (or maybe fateful) act is that by turning around I literally got to meet some of the sweetest and kindest little ladies and family I'd ever met. May sound silly or corny, but moments like this are by far the greatest part of fame. Happy Holiday's guys and thank you universe for this really cool moment. #CheckoutSantaWithThePhotoBomb 🎅🏾 #GreatestFansInTheWorld 👊🏾
There’s the time he welcomed a newborn daughter into his family.
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Christmas came early! Within minutes of being born she was laying on daddy's chest. And being a grateful man takes on a whole new meaning… Thank you guys so much for the awesome congratulatory wishes and love you've been sending @laurenhashianofficial and myself. We're extremely grateful. Kinda crazy but in this cool and powerful skin to skin bonding moment with my newborn baby Jasmine, I had just one wish I asked the universe… Give me the strength to be a better man today than I was yesterday. If I can accomplish that, then I'd have a good shot at being a great father. To all you young men out there who will be fathers one day, the goal of "being better" will never steer you wrong. Trust me I've been down this road. Something else that'll never steer you wrong is "walking thru the fire" with your baby's mama. I was right there during labor, helping her breathe, every highly intense contraction, every second of pain, right there watching the actual birth, cutting the cord and wiping the tears. Incredible. *(Now don't get me wrong boys, it wasn't like I was at the end of the table, squatting like a catcher waiting for the fastball to come down the pike..😂 but as men, it's a miracle we should witness because it'll give you a whole new respect for the strength and beauty of a woman). Again, THANK YOU guys so much for all the love during this blessed time. I always say I'm a lucky dude because I've got the greatest fans in the world – and it's true. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families from ours. #ChristmasCameEarlyToSayHello #WhileSleepOfficiallySaysGoodbye #2xProudPapaSilverback #SheCanDateWhenShes40 💪🏾👊🏾💯
You get the point, right? The Rock is awesome.