Jake Lamb's athletic roots firmly connected to parents, siblings in Seattle
PHOENIX -- If you ask Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb what he values most, the answer is simple: family. For the 26-year-old who is off to the best start of his career, family is often within arm's reach.
Born and raised in Queen Anne Hill, a neighborhood of Seattle, Lamb grew up with three siblings.
"I've always been really close with my family," Lamb said. "We spent a lot of time running around outdoors and playing sports. We've always been competitive."
Older brother Dan was a two-sport athlete in high school. Younger brother Dylan will begin his college baseball career next season. Sister Megan was a standout softball player after battling leukemia at a young age.
"She's the toughest girl I know," Lamb said
Much of their relationship has been built around sports and the adversity they've faced together. Through that, their bond continues to be strong.
Now, in his fourth year with the Diamondbacks, Lamb leads the team with 14 home runs and 46 RBI.
That competitive nature was instilled early on by his parents, John and Deonne. John played four years of football at Whitworth University in Spokane and Deonne played tennis throughout high school and college.
The couple did not shy away from passing the athletic torch on to their four children.
Jake Lamb excelled as a three-sport athlete at Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle. He was named baseball team MVP during his junior and senior seasons and was named Washington's top prospect by Baseball America.
As a sophomore, he had the opportunity to share the baseball field with his older brother, Dan, who played four years of baseball and football at Bishop Blanchet. Dan had the potential to play at the collegiate level, but, "he chose the frat life," Lamb said jokingly.
Dan graduated from Washington State and continues his athletic involvement as a youth baseball coach in the Seattle area.
The youngest of the Lambs -- Dylan -- appears to be following in Jake's footsteps, having signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Washington, starting next year.
This past year as a senior, Dylan was named MVP and most inspirational for Bishop Blanchet. Jake says he is prouder than ever of his younger brother. Envious, too, mentioning his reputation as a great student in the classroom, in which he smiled and said, "I can't say I really was."
On the surface, it appears that Lamb basks in the role of older brother, in the way that he hopes to pass down all of the meaningful lessons that he was taught growing up. Humorously enough, he always wondered if Dylan was listening to him all of those years. It turns out he was.
Their mother recalled a telling moment in their relationship from earlier this season when Jake was suffering through a slump at the plate. Dylan and his parents were watching the game on television at home when Jake struck out. Dylan reacted by taking matters into his own hands.
"Dylan sent him a text just saying, ‘'ey, I know you're struggling right now,' " Deonne said. "He just wanted to give him some support and tell him how important he was to him."
Lamb had intended to spend a few hours after the game hitting in the cage. Instead, a phone conversation with Dylan was all Lamb needed.
The very next day, Lamb took off on a tear, putting his slump behind him. "Dylan liked to say it was all because of him," Deonne said with a laugh.
Considered the glue that binds the four together is Jake's sister, Megan, who excelled at softball.
"We always make fun of ourselves, us boys in the family," Lamb said. "She was probably the best athlete and toughest out of all of us."
Megan, though, faced a different fight before she ever took the softball field. At the age of3, she was diagnosed with leukemia.
Jake was 6 at the time and unaware of the full magnitude of the situation, but as he grew older and assessed his sister's battle, it provided him with a sobering perspective.
Megan recovered and went on to become three-time MVP on her softball team at Bishop Blanchet, though she deiced against playing sports at Washington State.
"It was tough for my dad because she was really good at softball," Lamb said.
George Monica, now athletic director at Bishop Blanchet, was Lamb's football and baseball coach for three seasons. It's clear to Monica why Lamb has succeeded.
"Jake wouldn't be where he is without his family support," Monica said. "(John and Deonne) were never the over-the top type of parents that you often see at the high school athletic level. They always encouraged him. His brothers and sister and were always there for them.
"He's a real product of the type of relationship that they have with one another."
When Monica watches Lamb play on television, he can tell he is not all that different from his days at Bishop Blanchet.
"Jake is still Jake," Monica said. "He really looks like he's out there having fun, living out his dream."
One of Lamb's most poignant major-league moments came when the Diamonbacks played an interleague series against the Mariners in Seattle in July 2015.
"To have all of my friends from grade school, high school, college, my coaches, teachers, people I didn't even know were coming . . . it was awesome," Lamb said. "Besides my debut, that was probably the coolest experience I've had in the big leagues."
To no one's surprise, when the season concludes for the Diamondbacks, there's only one place you can expect to find Lamb -- where he was born and raised.
"I like to rent a place in (Queen Anne Hill) in the offseason," Lamb said.
"It's where all of my family is, it's what I know."