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Long Island athletes before they were pros

Long Island had its share of professional athletes excel on the big stage of professional sports, whether it was team or individual competition.

But before they became famous and had those photos all over the Internet, or in magazines and newspapers across the country, they were competing on Long Island's fields and courts in high school and/or college.

Here's a small sampling of their early days before they became stars, with more photos to be added soon.

Craig Biggio

Before Craig Biggio was a Baseball Hall of
Photo Credit: Kings Park High School

Before Craig Biggio was a Baseball Hall of Famer with 3,060 career hits, he was a two-sport star at Kings Park High School. Biggio won Newsday's Hansen Award in 1983 as Suffolk's top football player.

Sue Bird

Before she was a two-time WNBA champion, a
Photo Credit: Dave Pokress

Before she was a two-time WNBA champion, a two-time NCAA champion at UConn, and a state and national champion at Christ the King in Queens, Sue Bird played her freshman and sophomore years at Syosset High School.

Jim Brown

Before Jim Brown became one of, if not
Photo Credit: Newsday

Before Jim Brown became one of, if not the greatest running backs in NFL history, he was a four-sport star at Manhasset High School. He won the 1952 Thorp Award as Nassau's best football player and also starred in basketball, lacrosse and track and field. Brown also lettered in baseball before going to Syracuse University.

Crystal Dunn

Before playing for the U.S. women's national soccer
Photo Credit: James A. Escher

Before playing for the U.S. women's national soccer team in the 2016 Olympics, as well as joining England's Chelsea LFC, Crystal Dunn was Newsday's Player of the Year as the best girls soccer player on Long Island while at South Side High School in 2009.

Julius Erving

Before winning two ABA titles for the New

Before winning two ABA titles for the New York Nets, one NBA title with the Philadelphia Sixers and slam-dunking from the free-throw line, Julius Erving earned the nickname "Doctor" while playing basketball at Roosevelt High School. Later on, it morphed into "Dr. J."

Boomer Esiason

Before he played in Super Bowl XXIII, was
Photo Credit: Newsday

Before he played in Super Bowl XXIII, was the 1988 NFL MVP, an analyst for CBS' "The NFL Today" and became the morning radio host on WFAN, Boomer Esiason quarterbacked East Islip High School in the late 1970s. He also won the Yastrzemski Award in 1979 as Suffolk's best baseball player.

Danny Green

Before becoming an NBA champion with the San
Photo Credit: Richard Slattery

Before becoming an NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs, Green graduated from St. Mary's High School, where he was Newsday's Nassau County Player of the Year in 2005.

Tobias Harris

Before becoming a starting forward for the Detroit
Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Before becoming a starting forward for the Detroit Pistons, Tobias Harris starred at Half Hollow Hills West, winning the Sandler Award as Newsday's top boys basketball player in Suffolk in 2010. He also won the 2009 Sandler Award while at Long Island Lutheran and was named a McDonald's All-American in his senior season at Hills West.

Steven Matz

Before being drafted by the New York Mets
Photo Credit: Newsday

Before being drafted by the New York Mets in 2009 and reaching the big leagues in 2015, Steven Matz went 6-1 with a 0.26 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 54 innings as a senior for Ward Melville High School. He won the Yastrzemski Award as Suffolk's top high school player that season.

Matt Serra

Before Matt Serra became the only professional fighter
Photo Credit: East Meadow Library

Before Matt Serra became the only professional fighter to knock out Georges St-Pierre and win the UFC welterweight title, he was a 1992 graduate of East Meadow High School.

Marcus Stroman

Before Marcus Stroman made his MLB debut with
Photo Credit: Bob Mitchell

Before Marcus Stroman made his MLB debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014 and pitched in the 2016 postseason, he was only the third junior to earn the coveted Yastrzemski Award given to Suffolk's top player. The overpowering righthander rewrote the record books at Patchogue-Medford High School with 279 strikeouts in four years. Stroman was 22-4 with a 1.18 ERA, 20 complete games and eight shutouts.

Wally Szczerbiak

Before he was the No. 6 overall pick
Photo Credit: Kirthmon Dozier

Before he was the No. 6 overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, played 10 years in the league and became a Knicks analyst on MSG, Wally Szczerbiak averaged 36.6 points per game as a senior for Cold Spring Harbor High School.

Vinny Testaverde

Before he was a Heisman Trophy winner at
Photo Credit: LI / Queens Life / Ken Spencer

Before he was a Heisman Trophy winner at Miami and played in 21 seasons in the NFL (including seven with the Jets), Vinny Testaverde played just one year at quarterback for Sewanhaka High School. He was a receiver first.

Gian Villante

Before he was a professional MMA fighter and
Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Before he was a professional MMA fighter and a top-15 ranked UFC light heavyweight, Gian Villante was the 2002 Thorp Award winner as Nassau County's best football player at MacArthur High School. He also won a New York State wrestling title.

Chris Weidman

Before he became UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman,
Photo Credit: Newsday/Jim Peppler

Before he became UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman, far left, earned All-American honors wrestling for Nassau Community College and in 2003 won the New York State collegiate wrestling championship as a freshman.

Carl Yastrzemski

Before signing with the Boston Red Sox in
Photo Credit: Bridgehampton Historical Society

Before signing with the Boston Red Sox in 1958 and winning baseball's Triple Crown in 1967, Carl Yastrzemski scored a conference record 628 points as a senior in basketball, hit .650 in baseball and pitched a no-hitter in the Suffolk Class B championship for Bridgehampton High School. Newsday's award for the best overall baseball player in Suffolk County is named in his honor.

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