Deion Sanders, nicknamed "Prime Time" and "Neon Deion," made a name for himself with his flashy clothes, gold jewelry, and great athletic ability. The first athlete to play in both the Super Bowl (with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys) and the World Series (the Atlanta Braves), he has shown that there is more to him than his image.
Deion Luwynn Sanders was born August 9, 1967, in Fort Myers, Florida. His parents, Connie and Mims Sanders, divorced when he was only two years old. Sanders was raised by his mother and her new husband, Willie Knight. Sanders admitted in an interview: "I grew up with my mother and stepfather, but my father was around".
Sanders' biological father and stepfather, both deceased, had addiction issues, making him more determined to be an excellent dad. Those rough circumstances also made his mother the driving force in his life.
"I had a goal and I wasn't going to stop until I achieved it. My main goal was to retire my mother, so she never had to work another day in her life once I went professional. ... You got to have something bigger than yourself, otherwise you're going to quit on yourself."
And although he says he had to "father" his own fathers, he doesn't play the victim.
"Life happens for a reason. You can't pick and choose who raised you. It propelled me to who I am today, so I'm thankful (for) the trials and tribulations, because it matured me and built me as the father I am."
While a student at North Fort Myers High School, Sanders played baseball and football, as well as basketball, which was his biggest passion as a teen. A high school friend dubbed Sanders "Prime Time" after he scored 30 points in a basketball game. Sanders earned all-state honors in all three sports.
In his senior year of high school, the multisport star was deluged with offers from colleges but eventually decided to attend Florida State University (FSU) in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee. At college Sanders began to focus more of his energies on football and baseball. Although he had played left-handed option quarterback in high school, he switched in college to defense and special teams. During his years at FSU, Sanders twice was named an All-American in football and scored six touchdowns on punt or interception returns. As a senior he led the country in yardage for punt returns with an average of 15.2 yards. He also won the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country. On the baseball field, Sanders continued to shine, helping to power FSU's drive to the College World Series in 1987, where the team from Tallahassee finished fifth.
Sanders ended up being drafted twice after his senior year at Florida State. The New York Yankees picked him in the MLB Draft, and the Atlanta Falcons selected him in the NFL Draft. Instead of choosing one over the other, Sanders decided to do what he had always done, play both. He played a sporadic, part-time baseball career, playing for four teams over nine seasons. He never played a complete year, his best season probably being with the Cincinnati Reds in 1997. That season Sanders played in 115 games, collected 127 hits, and stole 56 bases. He helped the Braves to the World Series in 1992, where he had a great series, batting over 500. He finished his baseball career in 2001 by playing 32 games with the Cincinnati Reds. Sanders’ career baseball totals include a 263 batting average, 558 hits, 43 triples, and 186 stolen bases.
After becoming Atlanta's first round pick in 1989, Sanders quickly established himself as one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He also developed a reputation as a flashy and cocky player, with his “high stepping” and elaborate touchdown celebrations. He played five seasons with the Falcons, during which he not only recorded 24 interceptions, but also became one of the NFL's elite return men. In 1992 he led the NFL in kickoff return average (26.7), kickoff return yards (1067), and return touchdowns (2). Sanders left Atlanta to play for the San Francisco 49ers after the 1993 season.
Sanders spent only the 1994 season with the 49ers, but it is considered by some to be the best of his career. He grabbed six interceptions, returned them for 303 yards and three touchdowns, was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, and helped lead the 49ers to win the Super Bowl. However, tempers flared in San Francisco and Sanders left for the Dallas Cowboys and a very large contract. Sanders enjoyed five excellent years with the Cowboys, during which he got offensive playing time as wide receiver, before moving on to the Washington Redskins in 2000. He intercepted four passes that year before suddenly and unexpectedly retiring. However, this was not the end of “Neon Deion” as he decided to return to the NFL in 2004 with the Baltimore Ravens. He grabbed a total of five interceptions with the Ravens before retiring again after the 2005 season. He finished his career an eight-time Pro Bowler with 53 interceptions returned for 1331 yards and nine touchdowns, 155 kickoff returns for 3523 yards, 212 punt returns for 2199 yards, and 60 receptions for 784 yards.
POWER, MONEY & SEX: How Success Almost Ruined My Life
"I'm confident and my natural odor smells like confidence";
"If you look good - you feel good. If you feel good - you play good. If you play good - they pay good";
"When you look up the word ''busy'' in the dictionary, you see my baby".
Sanders has been married twice and have five children. Two (Deion Sanders Jr. and Deiondra Sanders) with his first wife (Carolyn Chambers) and three (Shilo Sanders, Shedeur Sanders and Shelomi Sanders) with his second wife (Pillar Bigger-Sanders).