Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport

Over 2.8K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Voting 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?"
Photo: flickr / CC0
Ranked by
  • Bo Jackson
    Age: 60
    914 votes
    • 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
    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 baseball and ...more
  • Deion Sanders
    614 votes
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Fort Myers, Florida, USA
    • Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers
    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 played in the National Football ...more
  • LeBron James
    1,105 votes
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Akron, Ohio, United States of America
    • 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 include ...more
  • Jim Thorpe
    Dec. at 64 (1888-1953)
    239 votes
    • Nationality: France, United States of America
    • Birthplace: Oklahoma, United States of America
    • Teams: Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, New York Giants, Boston Braves, Oorang Indians
    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 gold ...more
  • Jackie Robinson
    Dec. at 53 (1919-1972)
    135 votes
    • 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
    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 modern ...more
  • Wilt Chamberlain
    Dec. at 63 (1936-1999)
    640 votes
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Harlem Globetrotters, San Francisco Warriors
    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 the ...more