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American Prodigy: The Kid

Author: Blue Wire

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What ever happened to Ken Griffey Jr., our love for him, and our love for baseball?

Seattle musician and friend of Griffey, Kid Sensation (Xola Malik), as well as producer Alex Ward, rehash the life and career of one of sports most misunderstood superstars, and examine America’s relationship with baseball, music, race, celebrity and success.
16 Episodes
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If Ken Griffey Jr. was the charismatic new face of MLB who brought tons of new fans to the sport, why has baseball's popularity continued to decline over the last two decades? And, why has the number of Black ballplayers declined, too? Was The Kid baseball's last black superstar? For a sport that’s always been known as America’s pastime, baseball can’t seem to stay in touch with America. Presented by Coors Light Brought to you by Roman: getroman.com/prodigy
Do Your Thing

Do Your Thing

2021-04-2739:48

In 1999, Griffey was in the prime of his career with the Mariners. Yet, instead of playing out his last season, he turned down an extension, requested a trade, and was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds. Was Ken giving up on Seattle? Or was he truly looking to have a homecoming both on and off the diamond? Presented by Coors Light Brought to you by Roman: getroman.com/prodigy
Griffey To The Max

Griffey To The Max

2021-04-2038:381

After the strike, Griffey became a superstar on and off the field. From cameos on “The Simpsons” and “Fresh Prince,” to record-selling video games and a signature Nike shoe, The Kid had taken over popular culture. Griffey was becoming a brand all to himself, paving the way for the athletes of today. But, one thing that comes with blazing a trail, is that it's hard to figure out. For Ken, it led to a breaking point.   Presented by Coors Light  Brought to you by Roman: getroman.com/prodigy
The Two Kids

The Two Kids

2021-04-1335:56

He's remembered as one of the biggest stars in America and a 90's cultural icon, yet somehow, it seems like Griffey's legacy has gone missing. Where did it go?     Musician Kid Sensation (Xola Malik) and producer Alex Ward revisit the origins of Ken's early success in high school and with the Mariners, Xola's own beginnings with Sir Mix-a-Lot's crew, and the moment these two Kids crossed paths in Seattle.     Presented by Coors Light Brought to you by Roman: getroman.com/prodigy
What ever happened to Ken Griffey Jr., our love for him, and our love for baseball? Seattle musician and friend of Griffey, Kid Sensation (Xola Malik), as well as producer Alex Ward, rehash the life and career of one of sports most misunderstood superstars, and examine America’s relationship with baseball, music, race, celebrity and success.
Grant Wahl is back to introduce Season 2 of American Prodigy. Grant talks to Xola Malik and producer Alex Ward about "The Kid," his impact on Seattle, baseball, and 90's culture. What ever happened to "The Kid," our love for him, and our love for baseball?
Grant sits down with producer Harry Swartout and goes behind the scenes of the making of American Prodigy: Freddy Adu. What did it take to get the interviews done in a pandemic? Did Freddy’s penchant for trash talk ever land him in trouble? What really went down between Grant and Jaleel White at the MLS Cup? Grant tells all and plays quality audio we just didn’t have time for in the story.
S1 Ep. 7: The Return

S1 Ep. 7: The Return

2021-01-0530:37

While this podcast was being made, 31-year-old Freddy signed with Swedish third-division club Österlen, his first pro club in two years. Playing now for the love of the game, Freddy discusses his unexpected opportunity and what he has learned from being an American Prodigy. Is this the beginning of a great comeback? Or are we letting unreasonably high expectations get ahead of Freddy once again?
It’s been two years since Freddy played competitive soccer, but at age 31 he’s still trying to make a comeback, even as he teaches the next generation. Today is a new world in American soccer, where the best prospects leave for Europe and developmental academies stateside grow to provide support for America’s next prodigy. What happens to the next Freddy Adu? Are we ready for the next American Prodigy? Are they already here? Grant Wahl examines.
After a championship-winning rookie season, anything seemed possible for Freddy. Yet over the next 14 years, Freddy would play for more than a dozen teams in MLS, Europe, South America and the USL, slowly turning from an American Prodigy into a cautionary tale. Short flashes of success in summer tournaments provided flickering glimpses of hope that Freddy would gain traction and turn into a superstar. But Adu could never establish consistency at the club level. Grant Wahl watched Freddy struggle to build momentum in his career as it faded away. What went wrong?
S1 Ep. 4: That Smile

S1 Ep. 4: That Smile

2020-12-0832:44

Freddy Adu had a million dollar smile. He flashed it on the field when he beat defenders twice his age. He showed it for the media when he gave interviews and posed for photographs. And he turned it on as D.C. United got hot down the stretch and made a push for the 2004 MLS Cup. But Grant Wahl noticed that as Freddy’s rookie season wore on, the 15-year-old's smile began to fade. Was the pressure that Freddy felt finally getting to him?
Not even Freddy was ready for the passionate response to him from Black Americans, many of whom had rarely engaged with MLS or soccer before. American soccer has long been a country-club sport—largely white and upper-middle-class—but Freddy's race, potential and extreme youth helped make him a cultural touchstone who transcended sports. They also left him virtually alone in locker rooms full of white men old enough to be his father. Grant Wahl saw a teenager constantly surrounded by media, teammates and fans, but was he really connecting with any of them?
Freddy stepped off the stage of his introductory MLS press conference and right onto The Late Show with David Letterman. Before Adu had even played a pro game, MLS promoted its fresh-faced teen superstar with commercials alongside Pelé, feature stories and magazine covers in order to save a league in desperate financial straits. Freddy Mania put butts in the seats for the 2004 season, but it also set expectations unbelievably high. No one even knew if he was going to start games. Grant Wahl watched the pressure mount, wondering: “Can Freddy handle the hype?”
In the streets of Ghana, Freddy played with boys twice his age. In the D.C. suburbs, Freddy went from playing at recess to dominating travel tournaments all within a week. Just six months into his stay at the prestigious IMG Academy in Florida, Freddy was at the top of the class. He had teams in England, Italy, Spain and America salivating as they waited for him to turn pro. That was before he dominated the FIFA U-17 World Championship. Grant Wahl knew it was time for Freddy to sign, but where?  
When Nike signed thirteen-year-old Freddy Adu to a million dollar contract, they thought he could be bigger than Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and LeBron James. As it turned out, however, Freddy never lived up to the hype. Soccer journalist Grant Wahl investigates the impossible expectations that were placed on the teenager, and discusses with Freddy just how much of the blame lies on the media, MLS, and Freddy himself.
He was an American Prodigy. The next Pelé. The savior of U.S. Soccer. But he wasn’t even old enough to drive. In 2004, Freddy Adu joined MLS at 14 years old becoming the youngest American pro athlete in 100 years. His story is a tale of talent, money, fame and futbol. Soccer journalist Grant Wahl retraces the legend of Freddy as he went from superstar to one of the biggest “what ifs,” asking, what determines who “makes it,” who “doesn’t,” and what does all of it say about us?
Comments (2)

Ethan Allen

Grant's a great storyteller - and of course, Freddy's story is a compelling one. So far, it's been an amazing trip down memory lane over the last 20 years of US Soccer history! Can't wait for the next episode.

Dec 9th
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Andrew Smith

this is good

Nov 25th
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