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Payton earns his place among sports stars from Naperville
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff

Sean Payton


Bill Haber

Evan Lysacek


Shuji Kajiyama

Will Johnson


Mary DeScenza Mohler


Candace Parker


Ric Francis

Debbie Keller


Kim Lorenzen


erry Hairston Jr., left,


Associated Press

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Published: 2/9/2010 12:01 AM

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The image of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton holding up the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night offered another reminder that Naperville athletes continue to succeed athletically on an international scale.

In the weeks and months to come, World figure skating champion Evan Lysacek could lay claim to a gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and starting guard Anthony Parker, the 34-year-old brother of Candace Parker and a 1983 graduate of Naperville Central, could help the Cleveland Cavaliers win their first NBA title.

Here's a quick look at some of Naperville's finest who have won titles on some of the biggest national and international stages in sports:

Sean Payton

Then: A 1982 Naperville Central graduate who starred at quarterback and went on to set records at Eastern Illinois.

Now: The toast of Bourbon Street and beyond after coaching the New Orleans Saints to the Super Bowl XLIV title. Payton also served as offensive coordinator for the 2001 New York Giants' squad that appeared in Super Bowl XXXV.

Evan Lysacek

Then: A 2003 Neuqua Valley High School graduate.

Now: The 2009 World Figure Skating champion as well as a two-time U.S. Figure Skating gold medalist (2007 and 2008), Lysacek will compete in the Vancouver Winter Olympics after finishing second at the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating championships. He finished fourth at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Jerry Hairston

Then: A 1995 Naperville North graduate who starred at shortstop and point guard for the Huskies.

Now: Soon to be the proud owner of a 2009 World Series ring after helping the New York Yankees win their first title since 2000. Hairston appeared in 3 games during the World Series and was in left field for the final out. He has since signed a free-agent contract with the San Diego Padres. His brother Scott also plays for the Padres.

Candace Parker

Then: A 2004 Naperville Central graduate who led the Redhawks to back-to-back Class AA state championships (2003-04).

Now: One of the most recognizable faces in sports. Parker led the University of Tennessee to a pair of NCAA titles (2007-08) and won multiple national player of the year awards. She also won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics - scoring 14 points in the championship game against Australia.

Will Johnson

Then: This Naperville North graduate played for two elite clubs in Woodridge and Downers Grove before playing in England from 2003-04 and coming home to sign a pro contract as an 18-year-old with the Fire in 2005.

Now: Started at midfield for Real Salt Lake on Nov. 22, 2009 when it won the MLS Cup. He started every game during the 2009 season and scored 1 goal. Also a member of the Canadian National Team.

Kim Lorenzen

Then: A 2003 Naperville North graduate who started three years for the soccer team.

Now: The starting right back for Notre Dame's 2004 women's soccer NCAA champs. Finished with 3 goals and 4 assists for the year.

Debbie Keller

Then: A 1993 Waubonsie Valley graduate, where she was a two-time Parade All-America in girls soccer.

Now: Scored the game-winning goal in the title game for North Carolina's 1996 women's soccer NCAA champs. Played on the United States' 1995 Women's World Cup team that earned a bronze medal.

Mary (DeScenza) Mohler

Then: A 2002 Rosary High School graduate who won, as part of her eight IHSA gold medals, the 100-yard butterfly state title four years in a row.

Now: After winning four NCAA 200-meter butterfly titles at the University of Georgia, she set the world record in the 200 meter butterfly on July 29, 2009. Mohler's record was broken the following day, but she continues to hold the American mark. She's training for the 2012 Olympics in London.