athlete facts Successful Athletes Who Used to Be Homeless  

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They may have made millions during their all-star careers, but these athletes have something else in common: they all lived on the streets at some point during their lives. Some, like Tennessee Titan Michael Oher, famously overcame troubled childhoods to find success, while others lost it all after becoming award-winning sports legends.

Ranked loosely by fame and popularity, this list includes several famous fighters, NFL players, and baseball players who have been homeless. Whether they struggled to survive by stealing food from garbage cans or by sleeping under freeway overpasses, these athletes have experienced the full spectrum of life’s highs and lows.

Who is the most famous homeless athlete? Jean-Claude Van Damme tops our list. The martial arts master lived on the streets of LA before landing his first starring role. Then there’s Packers star Lionel Aldridge, who became homeless after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in the late 1970s, and Hall-of-Famer Dick Lane, who was rescued as an infant from a dumpster.

Are you surprised that so many professional athletes have been homeless? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Jean-Claude Van Damme is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Successful Athletes Who Used to Be Homeless
Photo: via Reddit

Before he landed his first starring role in Bloodsport in 1988, Jean-Claude Van Damme struggled to make ends meet in Hollywood. The "Muscles from Brussels" worked as a carpet layer, pizza delivery man, and limo driver but still spent time living on the streets.

In 1995, Van Damme spoke about being homeless, saying, "my eldest son doesn't know how to deal with society because I over-protect him because of my last life of being on the street and sleeping on the street and starving in L.A. I didn't want him to have that."

Age: age 55

Nationality: Belgium

Birthplace: Brussels, Sint-Agatha-Berchem, Belgium

Also Ranked

#11 on The All-Time Greatest Action Stars

#10 on The Best Martial Artists in History

#6 on The All-Time Greatest Martial Arts Actors

#30 on The Best Actors Who Won Razzies

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Michael Oher is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Successful Athletes Who Used to Be Homeless
Photo: Freebase/CC-BY-SA-2.0
Tennessee Titans star Michael Oher experienced periods of homelessness throughout his childhood. He was the subject of the Oscar-winning film The Blind Side, and wrote an autobiography called I Beat The Odds to help kids who are struggling on the streets and in foster care. 

Age: age 29

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America

Teams: Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Ole Miss Rebels football

Also Ranked

#29 on The Best Baltimore Ravens of All Time

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Shannon Briggs is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Successful Athletes Who Used to Be Homeless
Photo: via Imgur
Shannon Briggs was homeless for a period during his rough childhood. The heavyweight champion fought his way out of poverty, but admitted to having to sleep on the D-train in New York City as a kid. 

Age: age 44

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: New York City, USA, New York

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Bill Schuffenhauer is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Successful Athletes Who Used to Be Homeless
Photo: via Twitter
Olympic U.S. bobsledder Bill Schuffenhauer was homeless on and off throughout his childhood. He stole from strangers, ate out of garbage cans, and lived in several different foster homes before his maternal grandmother took him in when he was in junior high.

Age: age 42

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America

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