Don't Miss The First-Ever Global GQ Sports Issue
Introducing The Global GQ Sports Issue Cover Stars - Mohamed Salah, Stephen Curry, and Shohei Ohtani
In Egypt, where his life story is taught in schools, his nickname is the Happiness Maker. This is as much for his feats on the field—where he has in five seasons led a resurgent Liverpool to Premier League and Champions League titles, breaking umpteen records on the way—as his feats off it. He's got that million-lumen smile; the Afro-beard combo; the whole wholesome, hardworking, family-man image. In Nagrig, the village in the Nile Delta north of Cairo where Salah grew up, his generosity is legendary: He has paid to build a school, a water-treatment plant, and an ambulance station there, and every month his foundation provides food and money to the destitute.
Watch The Behind The Scene With Mo Salah
Despite being one of the game's greatest superstars, Curry remains something of an outlier in today's NBA, situated largely outside the fraternity of stars that operate with a public off-court kinship. That's partly due to the aforementioned underdog status that defined his youth and college career. He didn't play on the high-profile AAU teams or build up the kind of relationships and rivalries that can define players before they even enter the league. This hasn't prevented Curry from forming certain narratives with his competitors, of course.
Watch The Behind The Scenes With Stephen Curry
Shohei was from his earliest age what's known in Japan as a yakyu shonen—a kid who eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball. He grew up in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, a region of rolling mountains and farmland. “Way out there,” Shohei says. “Countryside. Middle of nowhere.” The equivalent in Japan of growing up in the cornfields of the American Midwest. His dad played ball in the Japanese Industrial League—for the automotive plant where he and Shohei's mother worked—and coached Shohei's little league team. At the youth level, games in Japan begin with players removing their caps and bowing to their coach, their hosts, the fans, and then the field. (A tradition that adds context to those videos of Shohei clearing his cathedral of litter.) Shohei attended one of the top baseball high schools in the country and experienced his first real national attention as an 18-year-old when he was clocked on TV throwing a 100 mph fastball to another teenager who looks in the instant like he's just seen the future: his, not playing baseball; this kid on the mound, making it somewhere very far.
Watch The Behind The Scenes With Shohei Ohtani