A majority of professional athletes pour themselves into their craft. Most realize their potential at a very young age, and recognize their destiny. They master their skills to an incomparable level..and continue to push themselves harder as long as they are physically capable of doing so.
However, there have been a few athletes that have shown elite talent in more than one sport — and when they do, it's fascinating. Going back as far as the early 1900s, here are The 10 best Multi-Sport Athletes Of All Time.
10. Charlie Ward (Football, Basketball, Baseball)
Did Charlie Ward make the right decision by choosing the NBA over football? Probably. Ward — a Heisman trophy winner — led his Florida State Seminoles to a national championship on the football field, and managed to secure FSU’s all-time steals record on the basketball court. Despite being projected to be taken in the third round of the NFL draft, Charlie opted to sign with the Knicks in ’94 after they used their first round pick on him. Ward played more than 10 years in the NBA, but was never more than a role player. Oddly enough, Ward was also drafted by the Brewers and Yankees…despite the fact that he never once stepped on a baseball field during college.
9. Kenny Lofton – (Basketball, Baseball)
A member of 11 different Major League Baseball teams, Kenny Lofton stole an impressive 622 bases and hit .299 for his career at the top of many lineups. His most memorable years were spent with the Cleveland Indians, where he served as the lead-off hitter for a club stacked with offensive talent. Back in college, Lofton was a member of the Arizona Wildcats basketball team. If it weren’t for Steve Kerr, Kenny might have been the starting point guard for the Wildcats in 1988, when they made it to the final four. Though he was a force to be reckoned with on the hard wood, Lofton ultimately decided to follow his dreams and pursue a career in the MLB.
8. Tony Gwynn – (Baseball, Basketball)
Tony Gwynn ended his career with a very impressive .338 batting average, seven Silver Slugger Awards and eight batting titles. A recipient of both the Roberto Clemente and Lou Gehrig Memorial awards, Mr. Padre was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 with 97.6 percent of the vote. Tony was the truth on the hardwood as well. At San Diego State, Gwynn set assist records for both a career and a season. The flashy point guard was taken in the 10th round of the NBA draft, but chose baseball instead.
7. John Elway – (Baseball, Football)
Can you imagine John Elway, arguably the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, in pinstripes?! Well, it could have happened. Elway was drafted by the Royals straight out of high school but ultimately decided to attend Stanford, where he would play both football and baseball. Elway was very successful with the Cardinal football team, winning Pac-10 Player of the Year honors twice. He was also a consensus All-American his senior year, finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting. As a baseball player, Elway pitched and played right field. The Yankees took him with their second pick (52nd overall) in 1981, and Elway played two seasons of minor-league ball during his summers away from Stanford.
6. David Winfield – (Baseball, Basketball)
Amassing more than 3,000 hits and 465 homeruns, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was a middle of the order hitter for more than two decades. While baseball was Winfield’s strong point, his athleticism stretched well beyond the diamond. While at Minnesota, Winfield enjoyed a fantastic collegiate basketball career, earning him selections in both the NBA (Atlanta Hawks) and the ABA (Utah Stars).
5. Jackie Robinson – (Track Star, Baseball Player)
To say Jackie Robinson was a phenomenal athlete would be an understatement. A career .311 hitter, Jackie was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and his number has been retired by all of baseball in recognition of his huge accomplishments and contributions to the game. Jackie was also a star athlete at UCLA. He earned varsity letter in four sports: baseball, football, track and basketball. On the track, Robinson won the 1940 NCAA men’s long jump crown.
4. Bo Jackson – (Baseball, Football)
Bo Jackson was both a menace for the Raiders and a spark plug for the Royals. The 6’1, 220lb athlete hit towering home runs and chased down anything hit within his reach in center. In the backfield, Jackson was impossible to take down. The combination of his size and speed made him a dominant force. However, due to injury, Jackson was forced to leave the NFL and stick to playing professional baseball.
3. Deion Sanders- (Baseball, Football)
With the end of baseball season slightly overlapping the beginning of football season, Deion Sanders went from picking off quarterbacks in the NFL to stealing bases within a days time. As a corner in the NFL, Sanders earned NFC Defensive Player of the Year Honors twice, was an All-Pro selection eight times and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. During the spring and summer, Deion was killing it in the major leagues. He stole more than 20 bases in a season three times and stole a career-best 38 in 1994.
2. Jim Brown – (Football, Basketball, Lacrosse)
Jim Brown scored 126 touch downs and rushed for more than 12,000 yards throughout his career as a professional football player. But Brown did more than just dominate the NFL for nine seasons! At Syracuse, Brown was a four-sport threat. He ran track, was the leading scorer on the basketball team and was an All-American lacrosse player.
1. Jim Thorpe- (Olympic Pentathlon and Decathlon , Football, Basketball)
Jim Thorpe is without a doubt the most highly praised multi-sport athlete of all time. Thorp played professional football for 13 years, Major League Baseball for seven years and professional basketball for two years. But that’s not all…In 1912, Thorpe won Olympic gold in both the pentathlon and decathlon! Simply put, anything Thorpe pursued athletically, he succeeded in.
Top Photo Credit: Getty Images
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