At 18 and 19 years old, many young men and women are planning their futures. Some are going to college; others are starting careers and setting goals for their lives.
In some rare cases, teenagers might already be achieving their goals. Just take a look at Ricky Rubio and Joey Logano. Early this summer, both of these young superstars added to their growing fame.
Ricky Rubio: In June, the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Rubio in the first round of the NBA Draft. Just 18 years old, Rubio is the first basketball player drafted who was born in the 1990s!
Joey Logano: Also born in 1990, Logano became the youngest driver ever to win a NASCAR race. A month after his 19th birthday, Logano won at New Hampshire International Speedway, proving that he can compete with the best drivers in the world.
Youngest players: Sometimes very young players grow into All-Stars. Kobe Bryant became the youngest player in basketball history when he was an 18-year-old rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996. In the NHL, a player named Aldo Guidolin is believed to be the youngest player. He first laced up his skates in 1942 with the Boston Bruins, when he was just 16 years old. In 1944, when many Major League Baseball players were fighting in World War II, the Cincinnati Reds had a 15-year-old pitcher named Joe Nuxhall. Today, most professional leagues have rules that no players younger than 18 can participate to ensure that they finish school before focusing on sports.
Positives: Young players bring a special brand of excitement to pro sports. Athletes like Rubio and Logano are typically very popular, because fans want to see how they will react to competing against big-name stars. They usually have high expectations, and fans are curious to see how they will live up to them. Teenaged athletes draw a lot of attention and create publicity for their sports.
Negatives: Sometimes, it takes young players a long time to adjust to the professional level. Until Logano won the race in New Hampshire, he had never finished in the Top 5. One of the most famous baseball players of all time, Willie Mays, struggled when he was first called up to the big leagues. He began his career 0-for-12 with the New York Giants, before belting a home run in his 13th at bat.
The most important thing for young athletes to remember is that they have long careers ahead of them. They can't get caught up in the excitement of playing professionally and try too hard. They have to do their best and realize that if they make mistakes, they will have plenty of time to make up for it.
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