Marco Rubio went to school on a football scholarship, and 9 other things to know about the 2016 hopeful

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10 Facts About Marco Rubio
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Marco Rubio went to school on a football scholarship, and 9 other things to know about the 2016 hopeful

1. His parents, Mario and Oria, are Cuban immigrants.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

2. Attended Tarkio College for one year on a football scholarship before he later transferred to Santa Fe College.

(Photo by Phil Coale/AP)

3. When he was sworn into office in 2011, he said that he owed $100,000 of student loans which he finally paid off in 2012.

(Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

4. His wife of 17 years, Jeanette, is of Colombian descent and was once a Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

5. He went viral with a sip of water. Rubio gave the official Republican reaction to the State of the Union in 2013, but the only detail most people remembered was the moment in which he became so parched that he reached for a water bottle to quench his thirst.

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

6. Though he was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church, he was also baptized as Mormon later in childhood when his family lived in Las Vegas. He is now a practicing Catholic.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

7. He teaches political science at Florida International University in Miami.

(Photo by Charles Ommanney for the Washington Post via Getty)

8. He says the first concert he ever attended was a Prince show.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty)

9. His family used to call him Tony, which came from his middle name Antonio.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

10. Was speaker of the Florida House before he was a U.S. Senator.

(Photo by Phil Coale/AP)

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By ISABELLE CHAPMAN

Florida Senator Marco Rubio joined the race for 2016 Monday evening, when he said at the Freedom Tower in Miami that "I announce my candidacy for president of the United States."

Rubio enters the race behind in the polls, with roughly 5 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents saying they would back him.

His biggest obstacle as he enters the race may be Jeb Bush, who is polling at 13 percent. The two share many political strengths, including connections to the Latino community (Bush's wife is born in Mexico, Rubio is a first-generation Cuban American), Florida roots and a relatively centrist stance on key issues that will help either win a general election.

Rubio has often cited Bush as a mentor and a friend, but now the two are also likely rivals for the Republican nomination. Bush will have seniority and family connections as strengths, while Rubio will be able to sell himself as the candidate offering fresh ideas to appeal to a younger generation that may have tired of Bush and Clinton-era politics.

While he's one of the younger candidates in the mix, the first-generation American is no stranger to the national political stage. He gave the GOP response to Obama's 2013 State of the Union address and Mitt Romney reportedly considered bringing him on as a vice presidential nominee for his 2012 ticket, though the spot eventually went to Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan.

Whether he ends up as a vice president or president, the charismatic Cuban American has a rags-to-riches story to be proud of. Born into a humble immigrant family, he went to college for a year on a football scholarship and then took out loans when he transferred to another school. When he was sworn in as senator in 2011, Rubio said he owed more than $100,000 in student loans.

Click through the gallery above to learn more about the presidential hopeful.
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