Tony Gonzalez’ career story is one of hard work, love, and sacrifice. Being raised by a single mother who had to juggle two jobs to make ends meet for her family, he channeled the negative situation positively and discovered an inner passion, thanks to the sacrifice of his older brother, Chris Gonzalez. You want to know how this NFL great rose from the ashes of hardship and poverty to become a superstar in the game of football, read on…
Tony Gonzalez’s Bio (Age, Ethnicity)
Tony Gonzalez was born as Anthony David Gonzalez on February 27, 1976, in Torrance, California. His father’s name is not known as he was absent from their lives but his mother’s name is Judy Gonzalez. Tony has a sibling, an older brother, named Chris Gonzalez. They were both were raised by their mother. He attended the Huntington Beach High School before proceeding to study a major in Communications at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tony while growing up (even until recently at first contact), was always mistaken to be from South America or of Hispanic descent. That happened because of his name Gonzalez and also because of the color of his skin. But even though he is predominantly of black African-American origin, his ancestry is mixed. He has a Jamaican, Scottish, Euro-American, Mexican-American, Indian-American, and Cape Verdan heritage on both his father and mother’s side. His original family name was “Goncals” as opposed to the “Gonzalez” he is now known with. The error was made by officials who registered his immigrant grandfather when he came to the United States and so the name “Gonzalez” stuck on.
Most accomplished sports stars discover their talents and passion at a young age start exhibiting them, but that was not the case for Tony Gonzalez. He was never interested in athletic sports instead found joy joining his peers to hang out on beaches to have fun and at other times, they would go skateboarding and that was it for Tony. His older brother, however, played American football and tried to convince his younger sibling to join him and give it a go.
Tony gave football a try with the Pop Warner league in 1987 and was disgusted by it but his brother still urged him on the next season and he played the entire season, howbeit, reluctantly. He went on and on till it became his passion. Now comfortable with American football, Tony decided to try basketball in 1990, at the advice of his friends’ father who saw him as a perfect fit for the game. It turned out that it was not a bad idea after all as he became an instant success in the game scoring eighteen points in his first game and he fell in love with the sport.
He performed beyond average in both two sports – American football and basketball – while in high school. He played as a linebacker in the former and was an excellent post passer and rebounder in the second. Soon his hard work paid off and he began to gain attention on the national scene. Tony Gonzalez as a senior in high school posted 62 receptions for 945 yards and 13 touchdowns in football and in basketball, he went 26 games on 65 percent shooting which broke the record held at the time by his then-coach, Roy Miller.
He also scooped awards in high school including sharing the High School Athlete of the Year award – which was a regional award (Orange County region) – with Tiger Woods, who went on to become a legend in the world of golf. By the time he enrolled at the University of California, Tony Gonzalez had already become famous and his excellent form in two of America’s most loved sports continued. But he knew he had to make a choice at some point but at the time, he was loving the combination.
He played for the California Golden Bears football and basketball teams. For the football team, he made it to the All-Pac-10 and All-America selection. He also recorded similar successes with the basketball team, however, even though he loved playing basketball more, football offered a clearer career path and so he was up for selection in the 1997 National Football League (NFL) Draft as a tight end and he was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round (13th overall pick).
Tony Gonzalez began his career with the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1997 season and it was a successful one. In his rookie season, Tony smashed 33 receptions and two touchdowns as the Chiefs made progress in their standings in the American Football Conference (AFC). He even earned a mention in the NFL All-Rookie Team in that season. He improved across the board in the subsequent seasons and got his first of 14 consecutive Pro Bowl selections (between 1999 to 2013) in the 1999 season.
His 17-year career in the NFL was spent in two clubs – Kansas’ City Chiefs (1997-2008) and Atlanta Falcons (2009-2013) – where he received 111 touchdowns, 1,325 receptions and 15,127 receiving yards, which is the highest for a tight end in NFL history. Aside from being picked 14 times (consecutively) in the Pro Bowl selection, which is a joint highest in the NFL, Tony Gonzalez was among the ones to be mentioned in the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Also, his 49 receptions is the Pro Bowl All-Time highest and his 1,000+ receiving yards in 4 seasons is the most by a tight end in the NFL. In fact, the only thing that eluded Tony Gonzalez in his career is his failure to lift the Vince Lombardy Trophy.
After retiring from the NFL in 2013, Tony became a football analyst with CBS on their NFL show dubbed NFL Today. He left them at the end of the 2016 season and joined in FOX’s pregame show in 2017. Tony has also been involved in acting, starring in A.I. Assault (2005) as Derek Williams and a small role in the TV series NCIS as Special Agent Tony Francis. His net worth is estimated to be between $20-30 million.
Family – Parents, Brother
Very little is known about Tony’s parents, especially his father whose name is not known. His mother is Judy Gonzalez who raised him and his older brother, Chris, single-handedly. In order to put food on the table and provide for her boys, Judy would work two jobs every day.
As mentioned earlier, Chris Gonzalez was the factor responsible for Tony becoming an NFL record breaker. He pushed Tony to pick up a liking for sports while they were growing up and encouraged him to stay focus when Tony almost backed off. Chris, who was an excellent American footballer himself, sacrificed his career to shadow his younger brother, Tony.
The documentary titled, “Play It Forward,” by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins, which was released in 2015, chronicles the life of the two brothers and shows the sacrifice of Chris, who put his career on hold for his brother. It also shows Chris’ journey to becoming a firefighter and a paramedic.
Wife – October Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez is married to the American model, October Vegas-Russell. They met in 2003 and started dating in the same year before getting married in July 2007. It said that their commitment is not a legally binding marriage even though the couple still consider themselves married to each other.
The marriage has produced two children, a daughter, Malia Gonzalez, who was born May 27, 2008, and a son, River Gonzalez, born in June 2010. Tony Gonzalez has a child from a previous relationship before he married his wife, October. His first child, a boy, is Nikko, who he had with entertainment reporter and media personality, Lauren Sánchez in 2002. His other known relationship is with Shannon Malone, an American actress and Swimsuit model.
October Gonzalez is a model who was named after her month of birth. She was born on October 10, 1980, as October Calinda Vegas-Russell in Los Angeles, California, USA. Even though she works as a model, she is more famous as the wife of the former NFL star, Tony Gonzalez.