2.7k voters

Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport

Updated January 27, 2020 13.3k votes 2.7k voters 39.8k views60 items

List RulesOnly 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?"
  • Bo Jackson1

    Bo Jackson

    Age: 58

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceBessemer, Alabama, United States of America

    TeamsOakland 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...  more
  • Deion Sanders2

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceFort Myers, Florida, United States of America

    TeamsSan Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons

    Deion Luwynn Sanders Sr. (; born August 9, 1967), nicknamed "Prime Time" and "Neon Deion", is...  more
  • LeBron James3

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceAkron, Ohio, United States of America

    TeamsLos 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...  more
  • Wilt Chamberlain4

    Wilt Chamberlain

    Dec. at 63 (1936-1999)

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

    TeamsLos 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
    Wilton Norman Chamberlain (; August 21, 1936 – October 12, 1999) was an American basketball...  more
  • Jim Brown5

    Jim Brown

    Age: 84

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceSt. Simons, Georgia, USA

    TeamsCleveland 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...  more
  • Jim Thorpe6

    Jim Thorpe

    Dec. at 65 (1888-1953)

    NationalityFrance, United States of America

    BirthplaceOklahoma, United States of America

    TeamsArizona 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...  more
  • Usain Bolt7

    Usain Bolt

    Age: 34


    BirthplaceSherwood Content, Jamaica

    Usain St Leo Bolt (; born 21 August 1986) is a retired Jamaican sprinter. He is a world...  more
  • Russell Wilson8

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceCincinnati, Ohio

    TeamsSeattle Seahawks, Wisconsin Badgers football, NC State Wolfpack football

    Russell Carrington Wilson (born November 29, 1988) is an American football quarterback for the...  more
  • Allen Iverson9

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceHampton, Virginia, United States of America

    TeamsPhiladelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons

    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...  more
  • Steve Nash10

    Steve Nash

    Age: 46

    NationalityCanada, England

    BirthplaceJohannesburg, South Africa

    TeamsLos 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...  more
  • Tony Gonzalez11

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceTorrance, California, United States of America

    TeamsKansas 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...  more
  • Jesse Owens12

    Jesse Owens

    Dec. at 67 (1913-1980)

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceOakville, Alabama, United States of America

    James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and...  more
  • Herschel Walker13

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceWrightsville, Georgia, United States of America

    TeamsDallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Georgia Bulldogs football team

    Herschel Walker (born March 3, 1962) is an American former professional football player,...  more
  • Jackie Robinson14

    Jackie Robinson

    Dec. at 53 (1919-1972)

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceCairo, Georgia, United States of America

    TeamsUCLA 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...  more
  • John Elway15

    John Elway

    Age: 60

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplacePort Angeles, Washington, United States of America

    TeamsDenver 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
  • Shaquille O'Neal16

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, United States of America

    TeamsLos Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics

    Shaquille Rashaun "Shaq" O'Neal ( shə-KEEL; SHAK; born March 6, 1972) is a retired...  more
  • Brock Lesnar17

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceWebster, 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...  more
  • Julius Peppers18

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceWilson, North Carolina

    TeamsGreen 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...  more
  • Antonio Gates19

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceDetroit, Michigan, United States of America

    TeamsSan 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...  more
  • Hakeem Olajuwon20

    NationalityNigeria, United States of America

    BirthplaceLagos, Nigeria

    TeamsHouston 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...  more
  • Tim Duncan21

    Tim Duncan

    Age: 44

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceChristiansted, United States Virgin Islands

    TeamsSan 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...  more
  • Nate Robinson22

    BirthplaceIrvington, 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...  more
  • Pat Riley23

    Pat Riley

    Age: 75

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceRome, New York, United States of America

    TeamsLos Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns

    Selected in the 1967 NFL Draft and the 1967 NBA Draft and played several seasons in the NBA before becoming one of the best basketball coaches of all time
  • Dave Winfield24

    NationalityUnited States of America

    BirthplaceSaint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America

    TeamsNew 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.
    David Mark Winfield (born October 3, 1951) is an American former Major League Baseball (MLB)...  more
  • Michael Jordan25


    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    TeamsChicago Bulls, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, Washington Wizards, North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball

    Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963), also known by his initials MJ, is an American...  more