Barry Bonds was born in Riverside, California in 1964, the son of San Francisco Giants slugger Bobby Bonds. A three-sport star in high school, he was drafted by the Giants, but chose to attend Arizona State University. After a stellar three-year career that included All-America honors, he was picked in the first round of the Major League draft and signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Bonds initially struggled at the big-league level, but eventually developed into an All-Star as he led the Pirates to three straight National League East titles. He won the Most Valuable Player award in 1990 and '92.
Following the 1992 season, Bonds signed with his hometown team, the San Francisco Giants. He won his third MVP award in his first season with the club, and continued to make the All-Star team on a yearly basis. In 1996, he became only the second player in MLB history to amass 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in one season.
In 2001, Bonds took his career to a new level, breaking Mark McGwire's record for home runs in a season with 73. The following year, he won his first batting title, and accumulated his unprecedented fifth MVP award. Previously notorious for his struggles in the playoffs, Bonds set a new record with 8 home runs in the 2002 postseason, and advanced to the World Series for the first time in his career. Despite his four homers, the Giants were unable to hold on and capture the title, falling in seven games to Anaheim.
Bonds racked up two more MVP trophies in the 2003 and '04 seasons, despite suffering personal tragedy (the loss of his father to cancer) and battling allegations that he had used illegal steroids. In 2004, he passed his godfather, Willie Mays, to move into third place on the career home run list. He later hit his 700th career homer; and finished the season with 703, just 52 behind all-time record holder Hank Aaron. However, recurring knee problems repeatedly sent Bonds under the knife in 2005, leaving his pursuit of the record in serious doubt.