Sports

Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport 

The Round Mound
Updated January 27, 2020 15.2k votes 2.6k voters 39.2k views 60 items

List Rules Only two-sport athletes who could have been superstars in both sports

Famous athletes who could have dominated a second sport tell the story of men and women with so much athletic ability that they shouldn't be limited to being the best at just one sport when they could easily find success in several sports. Many athletes have tried to become successful two-sport athletes and few have succeeded but dozens more have the potential.

This list isn't about the notable two-sport athletes like Deion Sanders, who won both the Super Bowl and a World Series, or Hershel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy, appeared in the Winter Olympics in bobsled and competed in mixed martial arts, or Michael Jordan, who returned after retiring from the NBA to play in the MLB, or Bo Jackson, who enjoyed success playing professional football and baseball during his career. This list is about the athletes who despite having the talent to dominate two sports, stuck to one and became one of the best to ever play.

For many athletes, this choice between two sports was an early one. Tom Brady for instance was selected in the MLB Draft but declined to play football. His three Super Bowl rings and numerous NFL records show he made a wise choice. Kirk Gibson was one of the best wide receivers in NCAA Football but chose the MLB contract offer over the one from the NFL. He went on to win two World Series and is still active as a highly successful MLB manager. Wilt Chamberlain had the choice of track, basketball, volleyball, boxing and football in his early years. He picked basketball and for that is now a household name.

These big names and so many more from professional football, basketball, baseball, hockey and other sports could have easily dominated a second sport. For one reason or another they made the tough decision to focus on one primary sport and in many cases went on to become legends in that sport. It would be tough to think that they regret the decision but one they certainly look back upon and wonder "what if?"
list ordered by
1
Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
RussellHinsley added Age: 57

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Bessemer, Alabama, United States of America

Teams: Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Chicago White Sox, + more

Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson (born November 30, 1962) is an American former baseball and football player. He is the only professional athlete in history to be named an All-Star in both ...more
2
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Veggamattic added Age: 35

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Akron, Ohio

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers

Played football in high school before his historic NBA career LeBron Raymone James Sr. (; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). His accomplishments ...more
3
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
madd added Age: 52

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Fort Myers, Florida, United States of America

Teams: San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, + more

Deion Luwynn Sanders Sr. (; born August 9, 1967), nicknamed "Prime Time" and "Neon Deion", is a retired American football player, baseball player and sports analyst who ...more
4
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Dec. at 63 (1936-1999)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: USA, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia 76ers, + more

Before becoming a legend in the NBA, he was sought after by nearly every sport from track, volleyball, boxing and football Wilton Norman Chamberlain (; August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999) was an American basketball player who played as a center and is considered one of the greatest players in history. He played for ...more
5
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
MarioKidd added Age: 83

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: St. Simons, Georgia, United States of America

Teams: Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

College letterman in Football, Baseball, Lacrosse and Track James Nathaniel Brown (born February 17, 1936) is an American former professional football player and actor. He was a running back for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) ...more
6
Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Sportsman added Age: 33

Nationality: Jamaica

Birthplace: Sherwood Content, Jamaica

Usain St Leo Bolt (; born 21 August 1986) is a retired Jamaican sprinter. He is a world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay. Owing to his achievements and ...more
7
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Age: 44

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Hampton, Virginia, United States of America

Earned all-state honors in high school football playing quarterback before joining the National Basketball Association Allen Ezail Iverson (; born June 7, 1975), nicknamed "the Answer", is an American former professional basketball player. He played 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association ...more
8
Steve Nash is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
bfmhf added Age: 45

Nationality: Canada, England

Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Suns

Could be playing soccer in the MLS Stephen John Nash (born 7 February 1974) is a Canadian former professional basketball player who played 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was an eight-time NBA All-Star ...more
9
Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Age: 43

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: USA, California, Torrance

Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons, California Golden Bears football

Dominated college football and basketball, including playing in the 1997 Sweet Sixteen, before enjoying a successful professional football career Anthony David Gonzalez (born February 27, 1976) is a former American football tight end. He played college football and college basketball at University of California, Berkeley, and was ...more
10
Jim Thorpe is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added Dec. at 65 (1888-1953)

Nationality: France, United States of America

Birthplace: Oklahoma, United States of America

Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, New York Giants, Boston Braves, Oorang Indians, + more

James Francis Thorpe (May 22 or 28, 1887 – March 28, 1953) was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation, Thorpe became the first Native American to win a ...more
11
Russell Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AndrewGiessen added Age: 31

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio

Teams: Seattle Seahawks, Wisconsin Badgers football, NC State Wolfpack football

Russell Carrington Wilson (born November 29, 1988) is an American football quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the ...more
12
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Age: 59

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Port Angeles, Washington, United States of America

Teams: Denver Broncos, Stanford Cardinal football

Spent time in the minors for the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals before going on to become one of the best football players ever
13
Brock Lesnar is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Age: 42

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Webster, South Dakota, United States of America

In addition to spending time in professional wrestling, he once made the roster for the Minnesota Vikings Brock Edward Lesnar (; born July 12, 1977) is an American professional wrestler, and former mixed martial artist and professional football player currently signed to WWE, where he performs on ...more
14
Antonio Gates is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added Age: 39

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

Teams: San Diego Chargers

Played basketball at Kent State before joining the Chargers Antonio Ethan Gates Jr. (born June 18, 1980) is an American football tight end who is currently a free agent. He has been selected into the Pro Bowl eight times and is a five-time All-Pro.Gates ...more
15
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Gookin added Age: 47

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States of America

Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, + more

Shaquille Rashaun "Shaq" O'Neal ( shə-KEEL; SHAK; born March 6, 1972) is a retired professional American basketball player who is a sports analyst on the television program Inside the ...more
16
Herschel Walker is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added Age: 57

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Georgia, USA, Wrightsville

Teams: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Georgia Bulldogs football team, + more

Herschel Walker (born March 3, 1962) is an American former professional football player, bobsledder, sprinter, and mixed martial artist. He played college football for the University of Georgia, ...more
17
Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Age: 56

Nationality: Nigeria, United States of America

Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria

Teams: Houston Rockets, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors

Started a promising soccer career in his native Nigeria before coming to the United States to play basketball Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (; Yoruba: [olaɟuwɔ̃]; born January 21, 1963), formerly spelled (& still pronounced as) Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. ...more
18
Jesse Owens is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
rosemary-hallett added Dec. at 67 (1913-1980)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Oakville, Alabama, United States of America

James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist in the 1936 Olympic Games. Owens specialized in ...more
19
Tim Duncan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Age: 43

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Christiansted, United States Virgin Islands

Teams: San Antonio Spurs, San Antonio Spurs, Wake Forest Demon Deacons men's basketball

Planned to compete in swimming in the Summer Olympics but after his pool was destroyed by a hurricane, focused his energy on basketball Timothy Theodore Duncan (born April 25, 1976) is an American professional basketball coach and former player who is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball ...more
20
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added Age: 39

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Wilson, North Carolina

Teams: Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, North Carolina Tar Heels football

Played college basketball at North Carolina Julius Frazier Peppers (born January 18, 1980) is a former American football defensive end. He played college football at North Carolina, where he was recognized as a unanimous All-American, and ...more
21
Nate Robinson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added Age: 34

Birthplace: Irvington, New Jersey

Plays in the NBA, but was an All-American football player at the University of Washington Nathaniel Robinson (born January 18, 1985) is a former American football defensive tackle. He was signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Once a heralded high school ...more
22
Jackie Robinson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tangy Tiger added Dec. at 53 (1919-1972)

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Cairo, Georgia, United States of America

Teams: UCLA Bruins football, Brooklyn Dodgers, Brooklyn Dodgers, Kansas City Monarchs, Los Angeles Bulldogs, + more

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the ...more
23
Eric Decker is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Age: 32

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Cold Spring, Minnesota, United States of America

Teams: Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Minnesota Golden Gophers football

Drafted twice into Major League Baseball but declined to play in the NFL Eric Thomas Decker (born March 15, 1987) is a former American football wide receiver who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 8 seasons. He played college football and college ...more
24
Dave Winfield is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added Age: 68

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America

Teams: New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, + more

Baseball HoFer was also a star basketball player at U of Minnesota. Coach Bill Musselman called him the best rebounder he's ever seen. David Mark Winfield (born October 3, 1951) is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB) right fielder. He is the special assistant to the executive director of the Major League Baseball ...more
25
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added Age: 44

Nationality: United States of America

Birthplace: Bartow, Florida, United States of America

Teams: Baltimore Ravens

Boxing Legend Bert Sugar claimed that the heavyweight division is lacking because athletes who historically would become boxing's stars in the premier division now go to other sports. He said that the best two heavyweight boxers in the world are NFL linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher.