Dan Marino
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Dan Marino
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Dan Marino has numerous NFL accomplishments, leading the Dolphins to numerous victories.

Daniel Constantine Marino, Jr. was born on Sept. 15, 1961, in Pittsburgh, Pa. to Daniel and Veronica Marino. Dan was the Marinos' first child, with two daughters to follow. The family lived in a section of Pittsburgh called Oakland, which was an ethnically diverse working-class neighborhood of steel workers, truck drivers and laborers. Dan Sr. worked a variety of jobs to support his family; his primary job was delivering newspaper bundles on the midnight shift for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The family never had much money, but it always had enough to pay the bills and put food on the table.

During Marino's youth, the Steelers began to emerge as a powerhouse in the NFL, and young Dan soon became one of their biggest fans. In an era before Nintendo and MTV, Marino and many of his neighborhood pals entertained themselves by playing pickup football games. Football was in their blood, and throwing a football seemed as natural to Marino as walking or breathing. Even though he was younger than most of the other kids, Marino always played quarterback, and he always played to win. When there weren't any kids to play with, Marino still wanted to throw the ball around. He'd go on the street and throw at telephone poles while moving around the parked cars like he was dodging on-rushing defenders.

Marino was more than just a great passer growing up. He was also an outstanding baseball prospect who eventually would be drafted after his senior year in high school in 1979 by the Kansas City Royals. But Marino's dream always was to be a pro football player. He wanted to go to Central Catholic High School, which was an athletic power in the city, and his father and mother worked almost every day to raise the money needed to send Dan to the school. Marino rewarded his parents' generosity by working hard in school to become a good student and an outstanding football prospect. Most of the top programs in the nation, including Notre Dame and UCLA, recruited Marino, but home always was where his heart was. It was no surprise when Marino announced that he would attend the University of Pittsburgh.

Marino enjoyed a prolific career at Pitt, setting numerous school records and being named an All-American his junior year. But Marino's senior season was a disappointment, as his subpar performance raised questions about his ability to succeed on the professional level. Dolphins fans should consider themselves lucky that Marino struggled in his last year in college because if he had shined he never would have been available for Miami to select with the 27th pick in the first round of the 1983 draft.

The last 16 years saw Marino burst into national prominence and become the most prolific quarterback in NFL history, but it was also during that time that he started his own family. Marino and his wife Claire married Jan. 30, 1985, and together they have had four children: Daniel Charles (13-years-old), Michael Joseph (11), Joseph Donald (10) and Alexandra Claire (7). The couple also adopted a Chinese girl, two-year-old Niki Lin, in December of 1998. The adoption took almost a year to finalize, with Claire spending 10 days in China before returning to the family's Weston home with the child. The Marino family was dealt a blow when it learned in 1995 that Michael was autistic. Fortunately, Michael's condition is considered mild, but it still has helped Marino keep his fame and on-field accomplishments inperspective.

There is more to Dan Marino than quarterbacking the Dolphins and being a devoted family man. An increasingly important part of his life is his charitable work, which was recognized by the NFL when it gave Marino the prestigious Man of the Year award in 1998. Marino has given much of his time and money to support various children's charities, some of which he founded himself. But as he enters his 17th season with the Dolphins, Marino still is as committed as ever to his football career. "I don't know how much time I have left, but I know I'm not done," Marino says. "I love the game and the competition. And I know there's still a lot I'd like to do on the football field." 

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