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Do you know who “Baby Gronk” is? If you don’t already, his father will make sure you do soon.

A profile by The Athletic revealed how the 10-year-old football player didn’t rise to social media fame by accident. “Baby Gronk,” whose real name is Madden San Miguel, was recently in the headlines for a lighthearted interaction he had with LSU gymnast and social media sensation Livvy Dunne, but his backstory is a bit darker. 

San Miguel’s father Jake told The Athletic that he has his son on a pretty strict training regiment and has long had plans for him to become a famous athlete. His father said San Miguel trains for “five or six days a week,” diets, and is “not a normal kid.” 

Madden has already been on several college visits, where he’s taken elaborate photos that went right to social media. Again, “Baby Gronk” is only 10 years old.

MORE: Why ‘rizzed up’ Baby Gronk-Livvy Dunne LSU meeting became a TikTok trend

For some football fans, this story sounds all too familiar. Here’s what you need to know about Todd Marinovich, whose upbringing mirrors what “Baby Gronk” appears to be going through.

What happened to Todd Marinovich?

Marinovich is a former college and NFL quarterback who earned the nickname “Robo QB” because of the way he was raised.

Marinovich’s father, Marv, told Sports Illustrated in a 1988 profile that he wanted to turn his son into the “perfect quarterback,” and he detailed the bizarre lengths he would go to make that happen. Marv was a former football captain at USC. 

As a child, Marinovich was forced to avoid all fast foods and processed foods, to the point that he couldn’t eat his own birthday cakes. Marinovich’s father said he stretched out his son’s hamstrings when he was just one month old and continued to test his strength before he could walk.

In terms of results, Marv Marinovich’s goals were reached, to a degree. Marinovich became a well-known prospect and was widely recruited by major programs. He played football at USC, serving as the Trojans’ starter in 1989 and 1990 and guiding the team to two winning seasons. 

Marinovich was drafted 24th overall by the Raiders in 1991, achieving the goal set out by his father from the very start of his life by becoming an NFL first-round pick. 

However, Marinovich quickly faded in the NFL. He lasted only two seasons, making eight starts and finishing his career with eight touchdown passes.

Marinovich used marijuana to cope with social anxiety throughout high school and was taunted by opposing fans as a result. He dealt with more drug issues after high school, getting arrested for cocaine possession while at USC. 

Marinovich has been arrested at least nine times, on charges ranging from drug possession to sexual assault. 

In 2019, Marinovich told Sports Illustrated that his father was “a raging beast” and said he started going to different variations of therapy in 2015 to deal with the trauma he experienced growing up. Marinovich said he was too scared of his father to tell the truth about his experiences when he was growing up and constantly talking to the media. 

Marinovich serves as a cautionary tale for any overzealous parent of an athlete, one that “Baby Gronk” might be hearing more about as he gets older.

MORE: Inside Jamal Murray’s pain tolerance drills: How unusual tests helped Nuggets star play through pain

Who is ‘Baby Gronk?’

“Baby Gronk” is Madden San Miguel, a youth football player from Texas who has gained a huge following on social media.

“Baby Gronk” isn’t related to Rob Gronkowski, but the high-profile former NFL tight end is the inspiration for the nickname, and becoming as much of a celebrity as Gronkowski is the goal.

“He’s a real athlete. He’s not a normal kid,” San Miguel’s father told The Athletic, adding that his son trains “five or six days a week.”

Jake San Miguel told Football Scoop that he has been building his son’s brand since kindergarten and works professionally to do the same for other youth athletes.

Brand-building is only one side of the coin, though. San Miguel’s father insists his son is an athlete first, and the 10-year-old’s training regimen is what raises eyebrows — particularly for those who remember the dieting and training Marinovich endured as a child.

Building a brand is totally different in 2023 than it was in the 1980s, however, so “Baby Gronk” appears to have a long-term platform and even a source of income if his football career doesn’t pan out. 



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