Sports

Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport

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?"
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  • Bo Jackson
    1
    Age: 59
    • 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
  • LeBron James
    2
    • 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
  • Deion Sanders
    3
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Fort Myers, Florida, United States of America
    • Teams: Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers
  • Jim Thorpe
    4
    Dec. at 64 (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
  • Jackie Robinson
    5
    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
  • Wilt Chamberlain
    6
    Dec. at 63 (1936-1999)
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
    • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia 76ers
    Before becoming a legend in the NBA, he was sought after by nearly every sport from track, volleyball, boxing and football
  • Jim Brown
    7
    Age: 86
    • 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
  • Herschel Walker
    8
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Wrightsville, Georgia, United States of America
    • Teams: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Georgia Bulldogs football team
  • Jesse Owens
    9
    Dec. at 66 (1913-1980)
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Oakville, Alabama, United States of America
  • Usain Bolt
    10
    Age: 35
    • Nationality: Jamaica
    • Birthplace: Sherwood Content, Jamaica
  • Russell Wilson
    11
    • Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Teams: Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks
  • Steve Nash
    12
    Age: 48
    • Nationality: Canada
    • Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
    Could be playing soccer in the MLS
  • Allen Iverson
    13
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Hampton, Virginia, United States of America
    • Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons
    Earned all-state honors in high school football playing quarterback before joining the National Basketball Association
  • Tony Gonzalez
    14
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Torrance, California, United States of America
    • 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
  • John Elway
    15
    Age: 62
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Port Angeles, Washington
    • Teams: Denver Broncos
    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
  • Julius Peppers
    16
    • 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
  • Michael Jordan
    17
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York
    • Teams: Chicago Bulls, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Washington Wizards, North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball
  • Shaquille O'Neal
    18
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, USA
    • Teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics
  • Nate Robinson
    19
    • Birthplace: Irvington, New Jersey
    Plays in the NBA, but was an All-American football player at the University of Washington
  • Antonio Gates
    20
    • 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
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias
    21
    Dec. at 45 (1911-1956)
    • Nationality: United States of America
    • Birthplace: Port Arthur, Texas, United States of America
  • Brock Lesnar
    22
    • 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
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
    23
    • 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
  • Dave Winfield
    24
    • 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
    Baseball HoFer was also a star basketball player at U of Minnesota. Coach Bill Musselman called him the best rebounder he's ever seen.
  • Tim Duncan
    25
    Age: 46
    • 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