Over the next two months VICE Sports will be profiling 16 athletes as they evolve into national superstars. Keep checking back here to find them all.
Sixteen is a transformative age for anybody. You learn to drive. You see freedom and the real world out there just beyond your grasp. But for an athlete, sixteen can be something bigger. It can be the time you separate yourself—the time you take the leap from high school hero to international superstar in the making. How does a sixteen-year-old juggle the pressure of competition, failure, success, on top of the everyday struggles of being a teenager?
To find out, we went in depth with sixteen athletes—all elite in their sports, all sixteen years old in 2017. Over the next two months, we'll introduce you to them one by one. They range from Kayvon Thibodeaux, the country's most sought after football recruit in Los Angeles, to Ellie Robinson, a world-record setting para-swimmer in the United Kingdom; from rising amateur golf superstar Yealimi Noh, to MLS soccer player James Sands.
We also spoke to pro athletes around the world about what their life was like when they were sixteen. You'll hear from Damian Lillard, Robinson Cano, Julia Marino, Michael Bisping, George St. Pierre and more.
The teenagers we feature come from divergent backgrounds, and live vastly different lives: from hosting shows on Nickelodeon to boxing in inner city gyms, to getting recruited by D1 colleges, to representing their countries on an international stage. Each week we'll announce more athletes, and tell more stories.
There's no one way to be 16 years old. There's no one way to be a superstar at your sport.
16 athletes. 16 stories. Welcome to the 16 Project.