The Stunning Transformation Of Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski, known to many by his nickname "Gronk," has earned a reputation for being one of the best tight ends in NFL history. Gronkowski was destined for the sports world, growing up alongside four other brothers and having competitiveness instilled from a young age. He eventually took his talent to the big leagues when he was drafted by the New England Patriots, proving he had the stamina to play alongside Tom Brady and join a team with a winning record that speaks for itself. 

His career lasted 11 seasons, most of which he played with the New England Patriots before switching to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. The Gronk had an incredible ride before he retired from the game in 2022, racking up four Super Bowl wins and earning the title for the most touchdowns by any tight end in the league in a single season. Though he's enjoying retirement in his 30s, he promised to dust off the cobwebs on his uniform if anyone breaks his coveted touchdown record. 

Not only has he evolved as a football player, but his charm, charisma, and go-getter attitude have allowed him to pursue various avenues outside of football. The former tight end also has a good-looking fortune and an even better-looking girlfriend, proving that life post-NFL can't be all that bad. So, how did he manage to score it all? We're breaking down the stunning transformation of Rob Gronkowski.

Rob Gronkowksi grew up with four brothers

If fighting with his four other brothers was any telltale sign, Rob Gronkowski was destined for sports at an early age. Born in Amherst and raised in the upstate suburb of West Seneca, New York, Gronk was the second youngest son to his parents, Diane and Gordon. In a house filled with testosterone, settling conflict was sometimes as simple as which brother was the last standing in a pillow fight. 

"It's funny, because Rob, they just beat the hell out of that kid because he was such a wise guy all the time," Gordon told the Tampa Bay Times. "They would nail him, doing those Charlie horses and things but when they were through, he would go right back after them. It was non-stop. He had no fears. The kid had no fears growing up. I still think he's like that."

But raising four growing boys was no easy feat for Rob's parents, who did their best to give the lot a well-rounded childhood. To make it happen, it meant Diane stayed at home full-time to help raise Rob and his oldest brother, Gordie Jr., followed by Dan, Chris, and the youngest brother, Glenn. Rob's father transitioned from working as a salesman for Pennzoil to owning his own fitness business, which meant years of overtime. "I worked two jobs for six years straight until I got my business up and running," he shared. "I had to. The food bill was $600 a week, roughly, give or take every week. They drank 2½ gallons of milk every day."

His father introduced him to the world of sports

Football runs in the family when it comes to the Gronkowskis. Rob's father, Gordon, had his own career back in his day, playing as an offensive lineman for Syracuse University despite being undersized compared to his teammates. After graduating, he signed a deal with the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League in 1983, but was cut during the end of training camp. 

Gordon's love for the game spread to his sons, whom he encouraged to play sports at a young age. It started as small as throwing tennis balls to Rob and his brothers when they were just toddlers and continued to evolve from there. "Then as they got older, I started hitting the balls harder to them or launching them into the air so they knew how to get under them and get those nice, soft hands," Gordon told the Tampa Bay Times. 

While a then-young Gronk wasn't allowed to play football until he was in seventh grade, he settled for hockey and baseball — both of which he excelled in. Gordon went so far as to transform their basement into a fitness center, guiding his sons in high-rep, low-weight training starting in eighth grade. "'I feel like my childhood was the ultimate preparation for my life now," Rob told the publication. "Growing up Gronk is a special term to me," he shared. "As kids, we grew up fearless, ready to take on any opponent, any time and compete at the highest level possible while giving it your all."

Gronkowski majored in a good time at the University of Arizona

Hitting the books wasn't exactly Rob Gronkowski's biggest priority while attending the University of Arizona. His homework often came second to hitting the field, as he played two seasons as a tight end on their football team from 2008 to 2009. Gronkowski was a bit more up to speed on that playbook than with any of the homework his professors were shelling out. 

"My college experience was like a movie, basically," he shared while speaking to students at the ACCENT Speakers Bureau in 2023 (via The Independent Florida Alligator). "The one thing I would have changed is to take care of myself." Taking care of himself proved a tough feat, especially with the college's reputation as one of the biggest party schools in the nation. 

With a promising talent in football speaking for itself, Gronk had more than 60 scholarship offers to choose from after graduation. But the tight end picked Arizona Red and Blue for one simple reason. "I asked, "Where are you going? Syracuse? Ohio State?" recalled his father during an interview with Vanity Fair. "He goes, 'University of Arizona.' I asked, 'Why there?' 'Dad, if you ever went to a pool party at Arizona, you'd understand.'" Reading wasn't exactly a favorite pastime of Gronkowski's either, who managed to slide under the radar despite his lack of literary skills. "I haven't read a book since like ninth grade," he shared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," recalling the last book he read as the nonexistent "A Mockingbird to Remember." Yikes.

He was drafted into the NFL at just 21 years old

Rob Gronkowski entered the NFL at 21 years old when the Patriots selected him in 2010. The Patriots picked up the tight end in the second round of the draft alongside the likes of Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes. It was a win for Gronkowski, who had missed his 2009 season at University of Arizona due to a back injury. 

But playing alongside greats like Tom Brady meant the New York native had some big shoes to fill. Locker room talk at the Patriots level was a whole different ball game and one that Gronk was anxious to step into. However, he came to find out that getting on Brady's good side was an uphill battle. "I mess up just a tad bit, and the dude's yelling at me like, 'Get over there!' like a coach," Gronkowski shared on an episode of the "New Heights" podcast in 2023. "I kind of felt like he was more hard on me at first because I think he saw some talent in me. ... I think he saw the opportunity that I had that was presented in front of me."

Gronk's relationship with Brady ultimately bloomed on and off the field as the two figured out their rhythm and went on to play together for all of the tight end's nine seasons with the Patriots. Gronkowski went on to score an impressive 80 touchdowns while on the team, the most of any tight end in the franchise's history. 

Gronkowski fell in love with a Patriots cheerleader

Like something out of a Taylor Swift song, Rob Gronkowski fell in love with Patriots cheerleader Camille Kostek while playing for the team. The couple didn't end up meeting on the sidelines, however, and met instead at a Goodwill charity event in 2013. 

"He ripped off his 'Hi My name is Rob Gronkowski' sticker on his T-shirt," Kostek shared on SiriusXM's "This Is Happening with Mark Zito and Ryan Sampson" podcast. "He had written on the back of it his phone number." But it took a bit of convincing on Kostek's part to make the first move. "I was a rookie. I was like, 'Oh no, no, no, I can't take this. I can't take his number.' And then [his teammate] was like, 'Just take it,' and I was like, 'Okay,' and I put it in my pocket. And I never spoke about it again." Eventually, she mustered up the courage to FaceTime Gronk, and the two began dating, later revealing their relationship to the public in 2016. 

While the two have been dating for over a decade, a possible engagement has been put off due to their busy schedules. Gronkowski has gone on to become a published author and participate in several brand partnerships since his retirement, and Kostek has a successful modeling career shooting for Sports Illustrated. Gronk told People that while they "definitely talk about" tying the knot, they're waiting for their careers to settle down a bit before he pops the question.

Gronkowski snagged four Super Bowl rings throughout his career

Rob Gronkowski managed to make it to five Super Bowls in his NFL career, taking home the W four times. Gronk played his first three Super Bowls with the Patriots, winning a ring in 2015 against the Seattle Seahawks, in 2017 against the Atlanta Falcons, and, in 2019, against the Los Angeles Rams. While he ended up taking a brief hiatus for the 2019 season, he rejoined the NFL the following year. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, where he went on to win his fourth Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021. While he took home a ring for his second Super Bowl win, Gronkowski didn't end up playing in the game as he was recovering from a herniated disk surgery at the time.

Nowadays, Gronk is using his past Super Bowl experiences as a studio analyst for Fox Sports. Fans can find the former tight end giving his expert opinion on the network's segments of "FOX NFL SUNDAY" and "FOX NFL KICKOFF" every NFL Sunday during the season.

He was suspended from the NFL after a controversial hit

Rob Gronkowski made headlines in 2017 after a controversial hit led to his one-game suspension from the NFL. The incident occurred when the Patriots took on the Buffalo Bills that year and saw Gronk making a nasty hit on Tre'Davious White. White had picked off a pass intended for Gronkowski, and the tight end made his feelings known by slamming his body into White while he was on the ground and delivering a punch at White at the same time. 

A video of the incident made its way to X, with one viewer writing, "What the hell are you doing, Gronk?" Another felt his one-game suspension wasn't justified, tweeting, "Please. He made contact after the play, it wasn't necessary but not remotely worth of suspension. Notice how they didn't call the egregious holding and PI on the defensive player prior to that."

The altercation led to White being on concussion watch for days. "I'm down there with my back turned, head to the ground and somebody sneaks me," White told "He could have broke my neck. He could have paralyzed me. Nobody thinks about that." Gronk publicly apologized following the incident, but White claimed he never reached out to him personally. The tight end joked about the controversy years later, likening it to the "People's Elbow," Dwayne Johnson's famous wrestling move. "Bills players were scared of me after," Gronkowski shared on Julian Edelman's podcast, "Games with Names," adding, "He's lucky though. I let up at the very end, I'm telling you."

He traded footballs for the wrestling ring when he retired

Rob Gronkowski stepped off the field after his 2018 season with the Patriots, thinking it would be the last time. He said as much on social media when he announced what was supposed to be his retirement, taking to Instagram in a lengthy post to express his gratitude. "I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010," he wrote on his Instagram in March 2019.

However, he didn't exactly retire at all. To the surprise of his fans, Gronkowski joined the Buccaneers alongside Tom Brady for two more seasons beginning in 2020.  His brief stint away from the game was spent joining a completely different sport instead when the tight end ended up signing a contract with the WWE in March of 2020. Gronkowski went on to win the 24/7 Championship at WrestleMania 36 when he defeated Dean Muhtadi and ended up setting the record for the longest-reigning 24/7 champion in the league's history before the title was claimed two months later.

His wrestling career — albeit promising — was ultimately cut short when he decided to play football again for the Buccaneers. "It just happened to be the right opportunity, I feel like, down in Tampa," Gronk admitted in a 2020 press conference, as noted by Tampa Bay Times. "Yes, Tom is like the appetizer of the whole meal. He got me hooked when he went down to Tampa."

He retired again

After an incredible NFL career, which included nine seasons with the Patriots, a brief retirement, and two final seasons with the Buccaneers, Rob Gronkowski finally threw in the towel and officially retired (for real this time) in June 2022. The tight end took to Instagram to announce his departure from the league, admitting that getting the chance to play for the Buccaneers had been a dream of his since his college days. 

"I want to thank the whole entire first-class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team," he wrote in his post. "I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field."

Given his history, fans had doubts about whether or not Gronk would stick to his word. Tom Brady continued to play for the Buccaneers until 2023, meaning some viewers thought that the quarterback could convince his old pal to rejoin him on the field. That turned out to be a far-fetched reality. "No, no. I'm done, man," Gronkowski told the Athletic in 2023. "Tom is not reopening that door. I don't know. Maybe he is. I don't know." Brady has kept that door closed, meaning any hopes for a Gronk-Brady reunion will live on only in the history books.

Gronkowski is sitting pretty on a multi-million dollar fortune post-NFL

It's textbook at this point the stories existing about post-NFL players who squandered away their million-dollar fortunes by recklessly spending on larger-than-life lifestyles while playing in the league. Several once-revered professional football players have little to their name years after they hung up their cleats, often resorting to professional speaking careers or Cameos to try and relish in a little of their once-all-consuming glory days.

It's not the case for Rob Gronkowski, however, who managed to amass a 70 million dollar fortune during his 11 seasons and keep most of it for safekeeping. As per Sports Illustrated, the star lived off his salary from his dozens of business partnerships and endorsement deals throughout his career, including with Dunkin' Donuts, Visa, T-Mobile, Monster Energy Drink, and Tide. 

Gronk seemed to love the game more than any perks his lifestyle afforded him, as the former tight end admitted as much in his book "It's Good to be Gronk" (per Sports Illustrated). Gronkowski shared that "expensive cars" or "expensive jewelry or tattoos" were not especially interesting to him and even admitted to wearing the same pair of jeans for decades. Nowadays, with his smooth saving skills and simple tastes, Gronk has plenty of green to enjoy post-retirement. Perhaps he could use it to buy his long-time girlfriend, Camille Kostek, a diamond? Time will tell.

He roasted his former teammate Tom Brady

Following Tom Brady's retirement from the NFL in 2023, the world was waiting to see what was in store for the legendary quarterback. A tumultuous divorce from his ex-wife, Gisele Bündchen, in 2022 continued to make headlines following his departure from football, making him quite a hot topic. So much so that Netflix dropped the 2024 special "The Greatest Roast Of All Time: Tom Brady" in 2024, including some of Brady's closest friends and fellow celebrities dolling out zingers regarding the Patriots legend. 

Rob Gronkowski was featured in the special, most notably for going off-script and even spiking a shot glass so far into the crowd that it injured a member of the crowd. "We all appreciate Gronk because he just gets to be Gronk, but the funny thing is we were all sitting up there on the stage, and we can see the teleprompter, and Gronk was so far off script that we did not know if he was coming back," Drew Bledsoe said on the "Dan Patrick Show."

Gronk was the butt of the joke several times during the night as well, with Nikki Glaser making fun of the tight end when referring to Brady losing millions after investing in cryptocurrency. "Tom lost $30 million in crypto. Tom, how did you fall for that? Even Gronk was like, 'Me know that not real money,'" Glaser joked during the special.