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This season, it seems like Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey can do no wrong. Every weekend, he’s finding the end zone, ending up on the highlight reel, and putting in a solid, all-around performance. Success, however, doesn’t always come naturally to anyone, let alone an NFL player.

For all of his athleticism and talent, there was one competition that McCaffrey couldn’t win. In fact, he lost to his own mother.

Christian McCaffrey’s early athletic success

As the son of a former NFL player, football came naturally to Christian. He played running back, receiver, punter, and cornerback in high school, setting numerous Colorado state records. He also sprinted and played basketball.

McCaffrey decided to commit to football, enrolling at Stanford University. While his freshman season was quiet, only featuring 796 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, his role would increase over the coming seasons. He exploded as a sophomore, breaking Barry Sanders’ NCAA record of 3,250; he finished the season with 3,864 total yards and 15 touchdowns.

While McCaffrey’s role in Stanford’s passing game declined as a junior, he led the Pac-12 in rushing. At the end of the season, he announced that he would not play in the Sun Bowl; his focus was on the NFL draft.

Thriving with the Carolina Panthers

After McCaffrey’s strong showing at the NFL Combine, the Carolina Panthers selected him with the eighth overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft. While he didn’t set the league on fire during his rookie year, the running back finished his inaugural campaign with two rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns.

In his second pro season, however, McCaffrey began to show his true talent. His touches out of the backfield and in the receiving game both increased as the running back made himself a key cog in the Panthers’ offense. He finished the 2018 season with 13 total touchdowns, but those numbers would only increase in 2019.

Thus far, in the 2019 season, McCaffrey has been unstoppable. He’s found the end zone eight times through six games and has played himself into the MVP conversation. There’s one arena where he didn’t automatically succeed, though.

Getting beaten by his mom

After McCaffrey was drafted, he and his mother, Lisa Sime, an athlete in her own right, came to Charlotte to look for an apartment. While the running back was still technically enrolled at Stanford, the Panthers asked the NCAA if it would be OK for him to attend head coach Ron Rivera’s charity bowling event. The NCAA granted McCaffrey permission, so he and his mom went to the bowling alley.

Both McCaffrey and Sime ended up on different teams, with Sime’s coming out on top. She wasn’t content with the victory, though. She wanted to make sure her son knew his place.

“So she gets the trophy, one of the trophies for winning her division,” Rivera remembered. “And she turns around and she’s looking for Christian, and she goes ‘Hey Christian! This is what a winner looks like!”

While we can’t say for sure, it’s safe to assume that McCaffrey inherited his mother’s competitive spirit. Maybe if he wins NFL MVP, he can show her what that trophy looks like.