Get to know the Gronkowski family: How Rob Gronkowski, four brothers became pro athletes
Picture the giddy, child-like energy of Rob Gronkowski. Now imagine five human beings with that vibe living under the same roof.
Welcome to the Gronkowski household when Rob and his four brothers were growing up. It’s the type of fraternal, competitive environment that molded the Gronkowskis into the human beings they are while also sending all five siblings on the way to professional sports careers.
“It was a crazy household, as you can imagine,” the father, Gordy, told the Tampa Bay Times in July. “We had a good brawl every single day. I had to break somebody up. I mean, a very competitive household and that’s how I was growing up. I always had to win and they got that from me. You got to win, you know?”
Here’s more of what you need to know about the entire Gronkowski family.
How many Gronkowski brothers are there?
There are five Gronkowski brothers: Rob, Gordie Jr., Dan, Chris and Glenn. The only one not to play in the NFL, Gordie Jr., played professional baseball. The other four reached the National Football League.
One of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, Rob teamed with Tom Brady in New England from 2010-2018. He led the NFL with 17 receiving touchdowns in 2011, reached double-digit touchdowns in five different seasons and topped 1,000 yards on four occasions with the Patriots.
After retiring ahead of the 2019 season, Rob returned to play with Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. Part of the reason, he told media after signing, was to play close to where his mother lives in Fort Myers, Florida.
Gordie Gronkowski Jr.
Gordie Jr. (yes, he spells his first name differently than his father’s) wasn’t a football player like his brothers, but rather a baseball standout. He attended Jacksonville University for college, where he played first and third base.
He was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the 49th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He lasted three seasons in the Angels’ system, hitting four home runs in Single-A in 2008, before being released. Gordie Jr. played three seasons of independent ball after his release, batting .305 and hitting 19 home runs for the 2009 Lake Erie Crushers.
Dan attended the University of Maryland as a tight end. He had three relatively quiet seasons before breaking out as a senior with 29 catches for 287 yards and three touchdowns.
He was drafted by the Lions in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft, and he spent parts of five NFL seasons with Detroit, Denver, Cleveland and New England. Dan caught nine passes in his NFL career for 69 yards.
A bit shorter than his brothers, who are all at least 6-5, the 6-2 Chris was a fullback who attended the University of Arizona. He went undrafted in 2010 and first signed on with the Cowboys before also spending time with the Colts, Chargers and Broncos.
He finished his NFL career with five carries for 17 yards and eight catches for 46 yards. Chris caught a touchdown for the Cowboys during the 2010 season, a 1-yard score thrown by Tony Romo.
At 6-3, Glenn was also a fullback during his upper-level football career. He attended Kansas State for his college football, scoring six touchdowns overall for the Wildcats.
Glenn went undrafted in 2016 and spent time with both the Bills and Patriots over the next two seasons. He only made it into one NFL regular season game, playing eight snaps for the Bills in 2016.
Rob Gronkowski’s parents
The patriarch of the Gronkowski athlete family is the father, Gordie. He played college football at Syracuse University, where he started as an offensive guard for three years.
Gordie and his older brother, Glenn, opened G&G Fitness in the Buffalo area in 1990. Gordie eventually took over G&G Fitness full time by 1997, and the company expanded to sell fitness equipment across the northeastern part of the United States.
“My goal was always to get all my kids through college with an athletic scholarship,” Gordie Sr. told Vanity Fair. “I’d tell them, ‘Hey, school’s first no matter what. Get educated, and then the sports.’ That’s a deadly combination.”
Diane Gronkowski Walters
Walters was at the heart of her five sons’ youth sports careers, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. She estimated that she took her sons and their neighbors to about 18,000 practices through the years.
“Growing up as a kid, you really don’t know all the stuff that moms put up with,” Rob told the News-Press. “But we definitely drove her crazy. But how we were, keeping her busy, it had to be an awesome ride. What wasn’t enjoyable was all our fighting and yelling. If we could’ve knocked that off, it would’ve been 100 percent good.”