Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Profiles of Alex Rodriguez, Tiger Woods

Aired August 10, 2002 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he is the highest paid team athlete in history. A baseball superstar who makes so much money, even he's overwhelmed by it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, TEXAS RANGERS: I'm almost embarrassed and ashamed of this contract.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: A quarter of a billion dollars, a fortune for anyone, but especially for a kid whose family scraped just to get by.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDDY RODRIGUEZ, MIAMI BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB: He grew up with rough kids, with kids that didn't have anything, with kids that have no lunch, no money, no shoes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: But with his team in the cellar and a possible strike looming; he has become a lightening rod for critics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

A. RODRIGUEZ: You know you can't blame the people getting the contract or the people giving the contract.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Super slugger, Alex Rodriguez. Then, he's the golfer out to capture his third major this year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I enjoy competing. I enjoy getting out there and going toe-to-toe with the best players in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: A prodigy raised to be a superstar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EARL WOODS, TIGER WOODS' FATHER: It was so important for him to establish his superiority at a very young age.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From precocious putter to fairway legend, Tiger Woods. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paul Zahn. Alex Rodriguez may be the best baseball player in the majors right now. He may be having an MVP year, but is he worth $252 million? That's the question baseball and its fans are asking right now. Sure, A-Rod's got the stats, but what about all those commas in his salary? The threat of another strike only intensifies the debate over A-Rod, mega-salaries and the future of America's pastime. Here's Daryn Kagan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a high fly going over left! The kid from Miami has hit his first salami.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a baseball player whose biggest score came during the off-season of 2001, when he knocked down the biggest paycheck in sports history.

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: Alex!

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: You the man, Alex!

KAGAN: Now Alex Rodriguez is a superstar player with a superstar salary. Even he can't believe he's getting paid so much to do what he's always dreamed of.

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: Alex!

A. RODRIGUEZ: This is a game that I would pay to play.

KAGAN: Good thing he didn't tell that to the Texas Rangers before they handed him the most lucrative salary in sports history, $252 million over 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to our ball team.

A. RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

KAGAN: And he's only 27. His huge paycheck and the threat of a strike have made A-Rod a lightning rod for critics.

A. RODRIGUEZ: No one broke any rules. No one broke any laws. No one should go to jail. But if you need to stop the big contracts, then you need to get a system that's more like the NFL or NBA where they have total control, which obviously, wouldn't be good for us and the union.

KAGAN: The executive board of the Player's Union is set to meet on Monday and could set a strike deadline then.

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: A-Rod! A-Rod!

KAGAN: Talk of a strike puts even more pressure on the mega contract like A-Rod's.

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: Thank you.

JEFF PEARLMAN, SENIOR WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": And it's funny because Tom Hicks, the Ranger's owner now, you know, almost two years after he signed A-Rod is complaining about the system. Well, you know, you're the guy who bought into this system. You were the one who paid A-Rod way over market value to -- you know, to play for your team so don't come whining now after you made the mistakes to do it.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I think the mega contracts are a by-product of the system. You know you can't blame the people getting the contract or the people giving the contract. I think the way you cure the problem is you fix the system.

KAGAN: While his stats are among the league's best, his team's record over the past two years has been among the worst.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I think I can get better. I think the team can get better and that's part of the challenge. That's what makes it fun coming out of the park every day.

KAGAN: But Alex says the pressure he's under now is nothing compared to growing up in a family that struggled to make ends meet.

A. RODRIGUEZ: Pressure to me is when you have to pay the rent at the end of the month and you don't know where the next dollar's coming from. And I've been there before.

KAGAN: Alex was born in New York City in 1975 after sister Suzy (ph) and brother Joe. His father, Victor, had played amateur baseball in the Dominican Republic, and he'd made enough money from the Manhattan shoe store he owned that he moved the family back to his homeland to retire when Alex was four.

The Rodriguez family lived well in the Dominican Republic by any standards. They moved into a four-bedroom house. They even had a live-in maid. Alex learned to ride a bike here, celebrated birthdays with relatives, and always got carsick riding the bus to school. And it was here that he started developing the fundamentals for baseball and life.

A. RODRIGUEZ: The three years in Dominican really grounded me, in a sense, where it gave me a foundation, I think, for the rest of my life.

KAGAN: But an economic downturn forced Alex's father to move the family to Miami to open another shoe store. When Alex was nine, his dad told the family he needed to work in New York for a while. Alex says he didn't hear from his father for years. Our attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

RICH HOFMAN, HIGH SCHOOL COACH: I think it bothered him a lot, although he never talks about it.

KAGAN: Alex doesn't like to talk about his father, but he did write about him in his book "Hit a Grand Slam." He writes, "Whatever his true reasons for leaving and not staying in touch, I can forgive him. I have to let go of that anger to move forward. The problem is, I can't forget what he did."

Alex's mother, Lourdes, worked two to three jobs to support the family.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I can remember coming home at night and counting her tip money from being a waitress late at night to 11:30 at night, and I wouldn't go to -- come to bed until she got home. And I felt I was counting 36, 37, 38 -- $40 was a great night.

KAGAN: J.D. Arteaga, now a minor league pitcher with the Houston Astros, grew up with Alex in Miami.

J.D. ARTEAGA, FRIEND: I think the same, that the struggles that his mom went through, you know, and the strength that she had to keep that family together and, you know, keep three jobs and just barely making it, you know, going from paycheck to paycheck.

A. RODRIGUEZ: There were some growing pains, obviously. You know, there was divorce involved and all that. But for the most part, I had a great childhood, and I had a lot of people to look up to. And I've been a beneficiary of some adults taking me under their wing.

KAGAN: One of the adults who took Alex in, J.D. Arteaga's father, Juan.

ARTEAGA: I got a little jealous sometimes, because he'd go buy me shoes, and he'd go, you know, he'd ask for another pair. And I'd say, "Well, who's that for?" And he said, "That's for Alex."

KAGAN: Alex was so skinny back then that the other kids called him Cheech, after the comedian Cheech Marin of "Cheech and Chong."

ARTEAGA: He was always, you know, the skinniest kid on the team, slow, you know, not a great arm and probably always had a great glove and great hands and made good contact.

KAGAN: J.D.'s father brought Alex to play baseball here at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami. Jose Conseco played here, so did fellow Ranger Rafael Palmiero. And it was there that Alex met another father figure.

E. RODRIGUEZ: Do you understand what I'm saying?

KAGAN: Eddy Rodriguez, no relation, but he might as well have been family. He once played center field in the minor leagues for the Chicago Cubs. E. RODRIGUEZ: Alex was a, you know, was a kid that a lot of people want to help him, you know, he was a kid that a lot of -- that was likable by everybody. And I remember he probably struggled, you know, but you know, he was always -- you know, he had the Boys Club, he had his family.

A. RODRIGUEZ: It gave me an avenue to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and you have a place where you can go out, do your homework, play ball. And basically, there's no pressure there, there is no prejudice there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Swung on, this is gone.

KAGAN: Alex's other role models were major league players. He took the number three on his jersey from former Atlanta Braves slugger Dale Murphy. He also idolized Cal Ripken, Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles. As a kid, he placed a Ripken poster above his bed. Later, during high school, Alex would sneak off to watch Ripken play in spring training nearby.

Former Rangers manager Johnny Oates, who was managing the Orioles at the time, introduced them.

JOHNNY OATES, FORMER TEXAS RANGERS MANAGER: A couple of days later, we were playing over -- playing the Cardinals over in St. Pete. And I look up, and there he is behind the tarp down the left-field line watching the infield. And I said, "Don't you ever go to school?"

KAGAN: Alex looked to his other role models, his mother and Juan Arteaga, to fill the void left by his father. He still had heard nothing from him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: When the story of Alex Rodriguez continues, his star in baseball would rise, but another tragedy would add to his personal pain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

A. RODRIGUEZ: He just had a stroke and he passed away, so that was -- that was a tough time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: And still ahead on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Tiger Woods looks to get back into the swing of things.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. WOODS: It's not easy. People make it like it's an easy thing to do and it's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: No slam, but still grand, Tiger's tale, later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right center! The ball game is over!

KAGAN (voice-over): Today, Alex Rodriguez is a six-foot-three, 210-pound baseball superstar with matinee idol good looks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Rodriguez is the hero.

KAGAN: He certainly has come a long way to become the highest- paid team athlete in history.

HOFMAN: He was just a young, thin, very good-looking athlete who looked like he had a lot of potential.

KAGAN: Rich Hofman was Alex's coach at Westminster Christian Prep School in Miami. He has sent 33 players into the pros, four into the big leagues.

When Alex was 15, he wanted a chance to shine on Hofman's diamond, but the teenager's mother was hard-pressed to come up with the $5,000 tuition to pay for the private school.

ARTEAGA: And as far as for the baseball program in Westminster, you couldn't beat it. So it was a, you know, sacrifice that all of our parents had to make.

KAGAN: With the help of a scholarship, Alex's mother scraped together the money. Under Coach Hofman, Alex began to learn the basics of the game. His baseball skills began to improve dramatically.

HOFMAN: When everybody else went home, he went into the weight room. He started working hard and doing the extra things that great players need to do, and he went from a skinny, straggly little guy to a -- just a real dynamite-looking athlete.

KAGAN: The little kid who was nicknamed Cheech was now nicknamed Big Dog. Yet, Alex almost gave up baseball. He had developed into an all-around athlete.

HOFMAN: Probably the best athlete I've ever seen.

KAGAN: He was starting quarterback of the high school football team. But his real love was basketball.

HOFMAN: Could have been an NBA point guard if he wanted to be.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I loved basketball growing up, but once I did my research, and I realized there weren't too many Dominican players in the NBA, I had to change gears and go to baseball and I'm glad I did. KAGAN: But just as everything seemed to be falling into place for Alex, tragedy struck during his sophomore year. It happened while Alex and J.D. were playing a football game.

HOFMAN: In our first game of the year, Mr. Arteaga -- it was in the second quarter, he came down out of the bleachers. He had heart problems to start with. And he said, you know, "I don't feel too well," and it was real hot. And he just collapsed right there on the running track.

ARTEAGA: Well, it took me -- a bunch of friends of the family came to the house that night and he couldn't make it. Alex remains a -- to him -- I mean he lost a father too, and he just couldn't come face -- not face the family, but he was hurt.

A. RODRIGUEZ: He was the guy that treated me like his third child. And he just had a stroke and he passed away, so that was -- that was a tough time.

KAGAN: Alex responded by dedicating himself to baseball. During his junior year, he hit leadoff, batting 450. He helped guide his high school team to a 35-and-2 record at a national championship.

All eyes were now on him, dozens of scouts showing up to watch him play his senior year. And with the baseball draft approaching, the pressure was mounting.

E. RODRIGUEZ: I remember one day we -- he said, "You know what? I wish I could be a normal kid." And I said, "Why you say that?" He said, "I was 15 years old, I was the best amateur player in the world, and always people looking at me like this superstar and stare. You know, I didn't have a chance to play a lot of Nintendo, play with my friends because I always been traveling in baseball. And I always want to be -- people doesn't realize that I want to be a kid, that I'm a kid."

KAGAN: A kid getting ready to enter an adult world, waiting for that call that would send a teenager to compete against men.

HOFMAN: He had to wait for a phone call. And of course, we all gathered around, because we knew he was either going to be the first or the second pick, but we weren't sure which.

KAGAN: On June 3, 1993, the Seattle Mariners made Alex the number one draft pick in the nation. Amid all the celebrating, he got another phone call that night from his father. That was the first time Alex had heard from his dad since he left nine years earlier.

The Mariners signed Alex Rodriguez to a $1.3 million contract after some hardball negotiating from his agent, Scott Boras. And with that money, Rodriguez bought a $34,000 Jeep Cherokee. And then, he put himself on an allowance of only $1,000 a month.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I thought I was by far the most overpaid kid in the world, at 17 years old, to have a million dollars. I thought that was pretty scary.

KAGAN: On July 8, 1994, Rodriguez got called up to the show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good-looking kid.

KAGAN: The first 18-year-old to play in the majors in a decade. It was a shaky start, though. That first game he went 0-for-3. But his numbers steadily improved. Rodriguez soon won the Mariners' starting job at shortstop. "Sports Illustrated" labeled him a hot player and one of the game's next superstars. One of his idols even saw the potential.

CAL RIPKEN JR., BALTIMORE ORIOLES: A lot of times we put labels on players and we say they can't miss, this guy's going to be a great player. But it's another thing to go out there and actually do it, and he's doing it, you know, like he's been in the league five and 10 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toward the hole. Alex backhands the ball...

KAGAN: In 1996, his first full major league season, "The Sporting News" named him Major League Player of The Year. He was the American League batting champ and came just three votes shy of being selected MVP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that is hit well into right center field.

KAGAN: In 1998, he joined the elite 40-40 club, 42 homers and 46 stolen bases.

During the off-season in '96, he lived in south Miami with his mother and a German shepherd named Ripper. Rodriguez later did move into his own house, but it was only five minutes away from his mother.

E. RODRIGUEZ: The good thing about Alex is he always stay with his little group, you know. He always stay with the people he grew up with. We always going to see -- when you see Alex, you're going to see us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Base hit to left!

KAGAN: After the 2000 season, the four-time all star became a free agent with the right to work for any club for whatever salary he could negotiate. The Mariners wanted to keep Rodriguez. The Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets also expressed interest, but Rangers owner Tom Hicks flew Alex to Dallas in his private jet, and after a marathon negotiating session with Agent Boras, the deal was done.

OATES: I was going back to my home in Arlington, and I left the hotel, and there's a mobile billboard outside the hotel already -- "Welcome to the Rangers, A-Rod."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: But not everyone would welcome A-Rod's colossal contract. When we come back, the firestorm over Alex Rodriguez, his money and the future of baseball.

ZAHN: The average salary in Major League Baseball today is about $2.4 million a year, an impressive sum that has grown substantially in the last two decades, since 1979 and baseball's first million-dollar contract. The recipient of that contract is the subject of this week's "Where Are They Now."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Back in 1979, pitching great Nolan Ryan became the first million-dollar major leaguer. So where is Nolan Ryan now? Well, when he's not pitching Advil in commercials, Ryan is at home in Alvin, Texas. He is overseeing cattle ranches, a hometown bank, or his latest endeavor, the Round Rock Express. It's a minor league baseball team named after Ryan's trademark fastball, the Ryan Express. We'll be right back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to pint.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Batting third is shortstop, number three, Alex Rodriguez.

KAGAN (voice-over): The Texas Rangers are paying Alex Rodriguez $252 million over the next 10 years to wear a Rangers uniform. After that mega deal was announced, cries of foul immediately erupted.

To put that in perspective, that's $2 million more than Tom Hicks paid then-owner George W. Bush and partners to buy the entire team in 1998. At the time, A-Rod's contract was worth more than half of major league's 30 franchises, according to "Forbes" magazine, worth even more than the two bottom teams combined.

A. RODRIGUEZ: And I don't think anyone's worth this type of money, obviously, but you know that's the market that we're in today.

KAGAN: Critics question what salaries like A-Rod's are doing to baseball.

BILL MADDEN, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think they're hurting baseball in the fact that you have too many have-not teams already in baseball, and every time a contract such as this comes down, it puts pressure on everybody else just to maintain their own players.

BOB COSTAS, SPORTSCASTER: Baseball will continue to have problems if some time in the near future, they don't come up with a plan for comprehensive revenue sharing and some sort of payroll restraint.

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: Come on, A-Rod! KAGAN: But big time payrolls don't ensure victory. The Rangers, who currently have the third highest payroll in baseball, sit dead last in their division.

PEARLMAN: You could be the dumbest baseball fan in America and see that the Texas Rangers are paying one player; you know, this much money, $25 million a year. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that that was a huge mistake, that everything is way out of whack.

A. RODRIGUEZ: Although we have the highest, third payroll in baseball, we've been playing really with a fifth year, $60 million payroll, because a lot of our major stars have been hurt all year. When you take away a star catcher for half the year and a star right fielder for half a year, it is very tough. And I challenge any team in baseball to take those key ingredients and still come out and have a huge year. It's very tough.

KAGAN: But the Rangers' woes can't be pinned to Alex. His numbers have been among the league's best. This season, he's led baseball in home runs and RBIs. A-Rod, though, has been taking the losing hard.

A. RODRIGUEZ: We win together and we lose together. I'm not going to separate myself when I'm doing well and when I'm doing bad. If we lose, we all shoulder the same blame.

PEARLMAN: He had to know, to some degree, what he was getting into. If you looked at Texas and -- you know, everybody saw they did not have very good pitching. The talent was pretty marginal. So I wonder if he's really surprised that his team isn't as good as he thought it would be or if he just is more disappointed in ownership that they haven't made the kind of moves that he was hoping for.

KAGAN: With rumblings of another baseball strike this summer, A- Rod's big contract is getting even more heat.

PEARLMAN: I'm a sports writer. I can barely afford to buy a used car and this guy is, you know, paying $25 million a year for a baseball player, so I don't have any sympathy, you know. And I know the average fan doesn't either.

KAGAN: While A-Rod may be pulling down a mega salary, he is giving some of his millions back. He holds a glitzy fund-raiser every year for the Miami Boys and Girls Club.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: ... Major League as a basketball, I mean, they vote?

KAGAN: He's donated baseball fields and scholarships to the club, and he also donates his time.

E. RODRIGUEZ: Off-season, he's here every day. He doesn't mind getting a slice of pizza, talk to the kids, sign autograph for the kids. He's here every day. So that to me is more important than the money he has donated to the Boys Club. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: Thanks very much, Alex.

KAGAN: Whether he likes it or not, Rodriguez's salary has intensified the glare from the public spotlight. There are more demands on his time and his money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not going to change his mind, so you're wasting your time.

KAGAN: Will all that money sour his milk-and-cookies reputation? His status as one of "People" magazine's Most Eligible Bachelors is ending. A-Rod recently announced his engagement to long-time girlfriend, Cynthia Skurtus (ph).

Alex Rodriguez has few regrets. He has wrestled with whether he should have gone to college instead of going pro. Back in high school, he even went for advice to the man who would become his manager.

OATES: He says, "Mr. Oates, do you think I should sign, or do you think I should go to college?" And trying to be funny, I said, "Alex, with the money you're going to make in this game someday, you can build yourself a college." Little did I know what kind of college he was going to be able to build himself.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I still want my college degree, and I haven't attained that yet. And that 's a promise that I made to my mother.

KAGAN: Rodriguez is now finally coming to terms with the father he never really knew. Years after that phone call on draft day, his father contacted him again, and the two have gotten together several times since.

A. RODRIGUEZ: We're working on it. It's better, and that's all I'm going to say about that. It's better, though.

KAGAN: For now, Rodriguez's biggest burden, the question -- is he worth all that money?

HOFMAN: He's going to be reminded every five minutes that he got too much money. And every time he doesn't get a base hit, he's not earning his income.

A. RODRIGUEZ: I never felt like I had to prove my critics wrong. I play the game for the simple reason that I love the game and I love to win. And I still feel there's a lot of room for growth in my game and that's why I work so hard during the season and in the off-season.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Coming up on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, Tiger Woods, his new flame and the price of fame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIM ROSAFORTE, TIGER WOODS BIOGRAPHER: I wouldn't want to have the type of fame he has where he can't go out to a restaurant, where he has to make arrangements to go in through a back door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The down side of being golf's most dominate player when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Tiger Woods is the favorite every time he tees it up and this week is no exception. Even Tiger's stunning collapse at the British Open, his loss of the Grand Slam, hasn't dampened expectations. As Tiger gets ready for the PGA championship, a look at golf's most dominating player, his career and the new love in his life. Here again is Daryn Kagan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FAN: Tiger! Tiger!

GARY PLAYER, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: The average man, he looks at a man like Tiger and he says, "Gee, all he does is play golf and make this money." But that's not true; it took years and years and years of training and sacrifice.

ROSAFORTE: This kid has done things over the course of the last five years that no one has ever done in golf before. And to a certain extent, that no one's ever done in sports before.

KAGAN (voice-over): Tiger Woods would seem to have the world by the tail. Three-time Masters champion, two-time U.S. Open winner, four consecutive major tournament victories, an unmatched success on the green and in the green. Commercial endorsements bring him a reported $64 million a year.

All eyes were on Tiger last month at the British Open. He won the U.S. Open and the Masters and was well on his way to sweeping all four major tournaments in a single year, an unprecedented feat in professional golf. But history will have to wait after a disappointing setback on a road paved with success.

That road began modestly enough, in the suburban neighborhood of Cypress, in Southern California, born Eldrick Tiger Woods on December 30, 1975.

ROSAFORTE: He was just part of a Southern California mix at the time, Asian, black, white, everything, certainly not an inner city, urban kid, but certainly not an upper class kid either.

E. WOODS: You're ugly!

T. WOODS: You're ugly too!

KAGAN: Tiger's bloodline is as diverse as his California neighborhood. His father is part black, part Native American, and part Chinese. His mother, a blend of Thai and Caucasian. The nickname "Tiger" comes from a Vietnamese friend of Earl Woods who saved Woods' life during the Vietnam War.

E. WOODS: He was very, very good in combat, so much so that I nicknamed him "Tiger." And when Nam fell, I didn't know whether he'd got out and I lost touch with him. So I said, "If I have another child, I'll nickname him "Tiger." Now, if it had been a girl, she would have been Tiger too.

KAGAN: Earl Woods was a Green Beret stationed in Thailand. It was there that he met Tida Ponsoi (ph). They married and moved to California where Tiger was born.

Just after Tiger could walk, he was introduced to the game of golf.

(on-camera): How early did you know he had a special talent?

E. WOODS: When he was ten months old. He had been in the garage watching me hit balls since he was six months old. And he picked up a ball and put it down and waggled and looked at the target and waggled again, just like I did and hit the ball into the net the first time.

KAGAN (voice-over): By the time he was two years old, Tiger shot an astonishing 48 on a nine-hole golf course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So right now, I'd like you to meet Tiger Woods and his father, Earl Woods. Would you come out, please?

(APPLAUSE)

KAGAN: Scoring his first taste of early fame. On the "Mike Douglas Show" in 1978, Tiger showed off his swing and his sense of humor to a national audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wrap it right in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tap it right in there.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

KAGAN: But just as Tiger's skills as a golfer were gaining media attention, a flashpoint -- at age four, he was turned away from a local golf course. He says because of the color of his skin.

T. WOODS: Any time you go through a negative experience like that, it does leave a lasting mark, and I have gone through my share. I haven't gone through as many as, you know, people who -- the generation before me, but nonetheless, I guess, a bad experience is a bad experience.

KAGAN (on-camera): So how do you explain that to a child?

E. WOODS: You tell him what it is and you tell him to be proud of who he is and not let anyone define who he is.

T. WOODS: Par four.

E. WOODS: OK, you going to make a par on the last hole.

T. WOODS: Yes.

E. WOODS: OK, all right. Let's go do it.

KAGAN (voice-over): In 1982, at the age of seven, Tiger started his golf education in earnest, taught by his father, disciplined by his mother.

T. WOODS: My mom was a tough one. My dad was always one who was more lenient. My mom was -- obviously, she's from an Asian heritage, and that heritage and that culture is a lot different than it is here.

KAGAN: By his 15th birthday, Tiger had amassed six junior tournament victories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the tee, amateur, Tiger Woods.

KAGAN: The following year, he qualified to play in his first professional tournament as an amateur.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a nonspecific defense. What does that mean?

KAGAN: Despite his growing celebrity, he tried to blend in with his classmates at Western High School.

JIM TOZZLE, ENGLISH TEACHER: He interacted, he joked around, he got to class on time, obeyed the rules.

CORINA DURREGO, CHEMISTRY TEACHER: He didn't get an A in chemistry. He got a B both semesters, but he's -- considering how much school he missed...

TOZZLE: Yes.

DURREGO: ... he was a very smart child. He earned that B.

KAGAN: After graduating high school, Woods headed north on a golf scholarship to Stanford University.

KAGAN (on-camera): How important was it for him to go to college?

E. WOODS: The only thing better than a good person is an educated, good person so I wanted him to get his education.

KAGAN (voice-over): As a freshmen, he hit the books, and he grew close with his college teammates. But what would his rookie year be without an initiation?

NOTAH BEGAY, STANFORD TEAMMATE: The first day at practice, I told him -- and I was serious -- I looked him dead in the eye, and I said, "Tiger, you're going to be the strongest freshmen in the top 10, maybe even the country." He looked at him and he said, "Thanks, that's a great thing for you to say." And I said, "Not because of your golf, because you are going to carry our bags." And we didn't' tip him either.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: When the story of Tiger Woods, a decision that will impact Tiger's life and the entire world of golf.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. WOODS: I knew that's when my old life was over, as a college student. I was now moving on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

T. WOODS: The press conference, nervousness. I guess, hello world, huh? I don't know if I'm going to play at the PGA tour. I had no clue. At that moment in time, I had nothing.

KAGAN (voice-over): August 28, 1996, after two years at Stanford, Tiger Woods announced his decision to turn pro.

T. WOODS: It'll be a lot easier than the average amateur entering professional golf, because of the opportunities I've had in the past.

ROSAFORTE: You could see that we were about to and were experiencing something that was unique and different, not only from the standpoint of what it was doing socially to the game, but what this young man could do competitively and as an athlete.

KAGAN: He was no stranger to world-class competition. Woods had already played in six major tournaments as an amateur, but at age 20, the rookie was eager to focus solely on his game.

T. WOODS: It's hard to get a rhythm and a flow, but if I get a chance to compete on a weekly basis, I feel my game is going to improve a lot. And my finishes are going to get better.

KAGAN: And they did. A week later, Woods nearly cracked the top ten, coming in eleventh at the Canadian Open. The following week, he placed fifth at the Quad City Classic, and finished third a week later at the BC Open.

His early success attracted multimillion-dollar endorsement deals with Nike and golf outfitter, Titlist. E. WOODS: If you look at Tiger's endorsement portfolio, you'll find that he's not on every little cracker and every little soup; he is world-class.

KAGAN: The boy with the golden swing was hot commercially, but some players on tour noted that this golf prodigy had yet to win a professional title. Many resented the hype.

ROSAFORTE: It's funny how players always rip media and hate the media and don't want to deal with the media and then, here was this young player coming out and getting all the media, and now they were jealous because his was getting all the things that they never wanted.

KAGAN: In 1997, Tiger crushed any doubts about his ability, proving he was the real deal at the 63rd Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

PLAYER: He arrived at Augusta and he's focused to try to win this major championship and people are putting it in from every angle, sign this, sign this, do this, do that, and you know, it just comes at you like a tidal wave.

KAGAN: The 21-year-old not only survived but thrived. He won by a record 12 strokes, beginning the first man of color to win the tournament and the youngest champion in Masters' history.

E. WOODS: When he won the Masters, I told him what he had done. He couldn't believe it.

KAGAN (on-camera): Was that because of his youth or because it was just the beginning of his celebrity?

E. WOODS: Youth. Youth. Tiger's always been a celebrity since he was 2 years old.

KAGAN (voice-over): But he was still vulnerable.

FUZZY ZOELLER, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: He just played well.

KAGAN: As Woods was wrapping up his Masters victory; golfer, Fuzzy Zoeller had this to say about the young champion.

ZOELLER: So you know what you guys do when he gets in here. Pat him back and say congratulations, enjoy it, and tell them not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it. Thanks -- or collared greens, or whatever the hell they serve.

KAGAN: The words caused an uproar in the golf world, in a sport known for its civility.

ZOELLER: You misinterpreted what I said. That's quite all right.

KAGAN: Zoeller denied the remark was racist. After a week, Woods felt he needed to confront Zoeller.

T. WOODS: And I found out some things I needed to know, and I let him know how I felt. You know, hopefully, I won't have situations like this, you know, ever again, but you know that's highly unlikely. But I know that one thing remains as stable, is that the fact that I love to play golf.

KAGAN: But would that love be enough? In 1998, Woods' scorecard hinted of a slump, with just one tour victory. The media and golf fans wondered -- had Tiger lost his bite?

ROSAFORTE: Well, people wonder, is this kid was going to burn out and I don't -- I don't worry about that. I used to worry about a physical burnout, but now with the weight-training program he's been on, I think he's going to be healthy.

KAGAN: But 1999 was not about winning for Tiger, it was about reworking his game and taking it to a whole new level.

PLAYER: You see, he has what I call an unusual body, a body that works in great speed and you can see when hits ball, you watch his hands, they're going at such an incredible speed.

KAGAN: By November, he was the first golfer in a quarter century to win eight PGA events in a single season, including the PGA Championship, taking home more than $6 million in prize money.

In 2000, he devoured the competition at the U.S. Open and at the 140th British Open. He also clinched the PGA Championship for the second year in a row, and in 2001, Tiger roared again. In April, he slid on the Green Jacket yet again after his second Masters win.

(on-camera): He cried after that -- after he made that last putt, and he put his hat over his face.

E. WOODS: That's because, for the first time and many tournaments, he realized the significance of what he had done.

KAGAN (voice-over): What he had done was win his fourth consecutive major tournament in a row. Some called it the Tiger Slam. Tiger called it grand.

T. WOODS: I'm going to put my jacket, my U.S. Open trophy, my cart jug, my PGA Championship trophy right there on the same table. I don't know anyone else who owns any one of those concurrently right now.

KAGAN: In 2002, Tiger set his sights on sweeping all four major tournaments in one year. In April, he slid on his third green Masters' jacket. In June, he captured a second U.S. Open trophy. Two tournaments down, two more to go.

T. WOODS: It's not easy. People make it like it's an easy thing to do, and it's not. You've got -- you have to go out there and have your game peak at the right time and you need to get some great breaks.

KAGAN: In July's British Open, the breaks the breaks were not with Tiger Woods. The blustery Scottish weather played havoc with his game and he finished 36th in the pack. Any hope for a Grand Slam sweep in 2002 was blown away by the stiff wind at the British open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your plans now?

T. WOODS: I'm going home.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To win rounds?

T. WOODS: No, I'm going home. I'm going to put shorts on and a t-shirt and walk outside.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KAGAN: When the story of Tiger Woods continues, the 26-year-old is measured against his own success and pays a price for his fame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PLAYER: There is no such thing as utopia so one has got to adjust and really be able to handle this, and it's the champions that can handle it well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Our look at Tiger Woods, the fortune and the frustrations of his fame, will continue in a moment, but first, here's this week's "Passages."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Legendary broadcaster, Chic Hearn, died Monday after complications from a fall at his home in Southern California. Hearn was best known as the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers for more than 40 years. He's credited with coming up with universal criticism for basketball, such as air ball and slam-dunk.

CHIC HEARN, FORMER LOS ANGELES LAKER BROADCASTER: Slam-dunk!

ANNOUNCER: Because of his closeness to Hollywood, he was frequently cast in TV and movies such as "Gilligan's Island" and "Fletch." Chic Hearn was 85.

Actor Josh Ryan Evans died Monday due to complications stemming from a congenital heart condition. The 20-year-old, three-foot-two- inch star, played a child prodigy lawyer in "Ally McBeal," but probably best known for his doll brought to life character, Timmy, from the NBC daytime drama "Passions." In an eerie twist of faith, Evans death came the same day of the airing of an episode taped last month in which his "Passions" character, Timmy, dies.

For more "People" stories, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

T. WOODS: Sometimes I'll start thinking that I've had a pretty successful career, but to sit back and reflect and just say, you know, "Wow, you know, I've had a fantastic career. If it ended right now, it would be great." I don't want it to end because I enjoy competing.

KAGAN (voice-over): Tiger Woods has been on a mission since childhood to be the best in golf. Now 26, he leads the career money list with nearly $28 million and growing. He's number one in world rankings, and he's won three straight PGA Player of the Year Awards.

Tiger's record setting accomplishments have bred equally high expectations. Woods finished 2001 on top of the PGA money list, earning nearly $5.7 million. For most players that's a career year. For Tiger, it meant facing questions about why he wasn't winning more.

T. WOODS: It's frustrating from the standpoint that I have to answer that question at every tournament I go to, if I hadn't won a little bit, and you know, the game is not easy. I wish I could win all the time, but it's just not how the game is. The game is very fickle. This year I won five tournaments. If I can win five tournaments every year for the rest of my career, I'm going to have a pretty good one.

Yes!

KAGAN: His phenomenal success over the years has also prompted Madison Avenue to rub its hands with dollar signs in mind.

T. WOODS: Up, down, kiss.

KAGAN: Woods is now the top pitchman in sports, earning an estimated $64 million a year in endorsements...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Tiger Woods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Tiger Woods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm Tiger Woods.

KAGAN: ... surpassing basketball star, Michael Jordan's, estimated $45 million during his prime seasons. With all his achievements and all that money, Tiger has yet to fulfill a promise he made to his father.

(on-camera): Why do you have that deal with him?

E. WOODS: Completion. Because I told him, you will get your diploma and he promised me he would. You don't start a journey, unless you complete it.

KAGAN (voice-over): Earl Woods' 26-year relationship with his son has involved constant protection, detailed preparation, and the hardest of all, letting go. E. WOODS: Now, I can back off comfortably, and allow him to live his own life and make his own decisions, and that's a tough call for a lot of parents because they don't want the kid to leave. I prepared Tiger to leave.

KAGAN: But can anyone be truly prepared for all this attention, all these expectations? Tiger's fame has come at a price, the lack of a private life. Woods was recently in the news when it was reported he has a new girlfriend. She's 22-year-old Swedish model Ellen Nordgren (ph).

ROSAFORTE: I wouldn't want to have the type of fame he has, where he can't go out to a restaurant where he has to make arrangements to go in through a back door, whether it's to go eat or go to a movie, or whatever he wants to do socially.

KAGAN: Woods drew criticism last month for his stammering response to a question about the men's only membership rule at Augusta National Golf Course.

T. WOODS: You know if it's -- there's nothing you do about it. If you have a group organization and that's the way they want to set it up, it's their prerogative to set it up that way.

KAGAN: He's an established barrier breaker, but his passive stance on Augusta led to accusations of hypocrisy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So give him a hand for coming here and coming out today.

KAGAN: But there is some media tension that Tiger Woods certainly welcomes...

T. WOODS: Working with these kids, put a smile on their face.

KAGAN: ... and that's when it comes to his foundation. Last year, the Tiger Woods Foundation donated approximately $1 million to various charities and organizations nationwide. He's also hosted 25 junior golf clinics over the past five years, teaching underprivileged children about the game of golf.

T. WOODS: I want our sport to reflect how America is, which is any kind of diversity you can imagine is here in the United States and that's how I want our sport to look like. If they so choose to play, they should not be denied an access to that experience.

PLAYER: You must remember that Tiger has a great responsibility on his shoulder, more than any player in the world by a million miles. You know, we've got a hero.

ROSAFORTE: You have to wonder really, what's in the stars for this guy? And what's he going to be doing when he is 40 years old? I just hope I'm around to see.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: The PGA championship begins Thursday. Tiger is already a two-to-one favorite. If he should go on to win, it would be his third PGA championship.

And that is it for this edition of pint. Next week, actor, Robert Downey Jr., out of rehab, off probation and back to work. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us and be sure to join me every weekday morning for "AMERICAN MORNING." Coming up this Monday, my exclusive interview with an Egyptian student wrongly accused and then mistakenly targeted by the FBI. Now, a federal judge wants some answers. That's this week on "AMERICAN MORNING." Again, thanks for joining us now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com





 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top