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The Greatest Athlete From Every State in America

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Have you ever stopped and wondered just who is the greatest athlete to come from your home state? Some U. S. states have way more people living there, so the chances of producing elite athletes are higher. Even the smaller states have produced some of the biggest sporting legends ever. Some of these athletes went on to compete outside of their home states, but they will always be remembered by the people they grew up representing. Even if they moved to the other side of the country, they were still loved and adored by their local supporters. Each state has produced some incredible athletes and, as often happens in sports, we’re looking to see who’s the best from each one. The competition is fierce, and some of America’s sporting legends have missed out because someone else from the same part of the world was a little better. If you head to each of these states and mention these star’s names, you are sure to be met with smiles as people remember the good times they brought. We all love a hometown hero, but these athletes didn’t just represent their entire state – they were so much more than that. These are the greatest athletes from each U.S. state.

Alabama – Bo Jackson

At college, Bo Jackson was a stand out athlete who played football and baseball, while running track too. After he graduated, Jackson didn’t want to give up both baseball and football, so he became a star in both!
Jackson was so good at both sports that he earned All-Star honors from both MLB and the NFL. That’s something that no other athlete has ever done, and what makes him Alabama’s best ever.

Alaska – Mark Schlereth

NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth was raised in Anchorage and made the most of his natural talents. Although he didn’t come through a college with the prestige of other football players, when he got to the NFL he stood out.
Schlereth spent 11 years in the NFL, becoming a part of three successful Super Bowl teams. While he is from Alaska, Schlereth is a hero in Denver thanks to his Broncos heroics.

Arizona – Kerri Strug

There’s nothing like a moment of pure heart to make an icon, and Kerri Strug showed the world how big her heart was at the 1996 Olympics. She was a part of the “Magnificent Seven” gymnasts hoping to take gold for Team USA but had a problem, she badly injured her ankle.
Despite the injury, Strug went out and performed miracles on the beam, taking the gold despite battling through the pain.

Arkansas – Scottie Pippen

Pippen didn’t even play Division I basketball in college, but that wouldn’t stop him from going on to have an amazing career in the NBA. He made his name in the great Chicago Bulls team alongside Michael Jordan, and the pair both have six championship rings each.
Besides the NBA championships, Pippen helped Team USA to gold at the 1992 Olympics and in 2010 was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

California – Tom Brady

Legendary quarterback Tom Brady has a claim to be the best in the history of football after leading his New England Patriots to five Super Bowl victories.
He’s a clutch player, and in four of five Super Bowls, Brady was named MVP. In his football career, he has been named overall MVP three times and made three All-Pro teams. Brady has led the league in passing rates, touchdowns, and yards multiple times.

Colorado – Jack Dempsey

When Dempsey stepped into the boxing ring, fans knew they were in for a fun show, and from 1919 to 1926 he was heavyweight champion. Originally a brawler, Dempsey became the first ever fighter to bring $1 million in gate revenue and is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Over the course of his career, Dempsey won 61 fights, 50 of those were due to knocking his opponent unconscious.

Connecticut – Steve Young

At high school it was clear that Steve Young was an elite athlete in the making as he excelled at three sports; football, basketball, and baseball.
Young set all kinds of college records for BYU and in the NFL Young shone the brightest with the San Francisco 49ers. Young learned from Joe Montana and became a three-time Super Bowl champ, more than earning his spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Delaware – Randy White

Randy White was raised in Delaware and made people take notice while playing football in high school at Thomas McKean. His college career was outstanding, and he was the second pick of the 1975 draft where he headed to the Cowboys.
His career speaks for itself, and White was Super Bowl champion in 1977, winning the Co-MVP for the game. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Florida – Serena Williams

When Serena was nine years old, she and her family moved to Florida to concentrate on developing her tennis game. She became the most dominant women’s tennis star of the past 15 years and won 23 major singles titles while adding more doubles majors with her sister Venus.
Serena has long been considered the best, spending many years ranked as world number one, and has won four Olympic golds in her career.

Georgia – Herschel Walker

Walker was a star in high school, playing three sports and becoming a three-time All-American by the time he finished at college. That early success led to Walker being inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
Walker brought that fearsome athleticism to the NFL and was a two-time Pro Bowl player. After leaving the NFL, Walker tried mixed martial arts and finished his fighting career undefeated after two bouts.

Hawaii – Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku was best-known for the five Olympic gold medals he won in the swimming pool for the USA. The man is widely thought to have been responsible for popularizing surfing as we know it.
He could do it all and when he wasn’t in the water Duke was playing beach volleyball, acting, and had a career as a law enforcement officer. His full name is Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku.

Idaho – Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew didn’t come through the college system like most players, instead, he rose to fame through the semi-pro baseball scene. When he made it to MLB, he became known as a home run god and sits just behind Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron in career homers.
He played MLB for 21 years, and was a 13-time All-Star when he retired. Killebrew was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

Illinois – Jackie Joyner-Kersee

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, there were not many athletes who could compete with Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s dynamism.
She won Olympic gold twice in Seoul for the long jump and heptathlon, before claiming another gold in Barcelona four years later, once again for the heptathlon. Joyner-Kersee also won medals at the Olympics in 1984 and 1996 in one of the most impressive track and field careers of any athlete in history.

Indiana – Larry Bird

Larry Bird grew up in Indiana before becoming a Boston legend with the Celtics. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball players of all time and helped the Celtics to three NBA titles during his playing career.
Bird and his Celtics team spent five years battling against the Lakers in some of the most legendary showdowns on court. He returned to Indiana to coach the Pacers once his playing career finished.

Iowa – Dan Gable

Dan Gable attended Iowa State University, and he was arguably the best collegiate wrestler ever, with a record of 181-1. His single loss came in his last ever match, but Gable helped Iowa State win two NCAA titles.
At the Olympics in 1972, Gable won a gold medal before returning to Iowa to coach where he built a wrestling dynasty. Gable won nine straight titles as a coach from 1978 to 1986.

Kansas – Barry Sanders

Although Sanders was fairly small for a pro football player, that didn’t stop him becoming one of the best ever. As a running back he was built like a truck, but he was super agile and had a glittering career in the NFL.
Sanders had an amazing college career and was inducted into both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame. In ten years, Sanders didn’t miss a single Pro Bowl.

Kentucky – Muhammad Ali

There isn’t much to say about Muhammad Ali that isn’t already known. The legendary boxer is thought to be the greatest of all time thanks to his confident personality and showboating. Ali won Olympic gold at the 1960 Games in Rome before turning pro and winning the heavyweight title.
His most famous fight is the Rumble in the Jungle, where he beat George Foreman to cement his place as a true great.

Louisiana – Bill Russell

Bill Russell was a part of the legendary Boston Celtics NBA side that won so much. In his 13-year basketball career, Russell won the NBA Championship 11 times.
Five times the league named Russell as MVP and the iconic center was a 12-time All-Star, winning the All-Star MVP once. As a coach, Russell came back to the NBA and won two more championships, earning his place in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Maine – Joan Benoit Samuelson

When the women’s marathon was introduced to the Olympic Games in 1984, all competitors were fighting hard to be the first ever winner. Joan Benoit Samuelson made sure she was the one to take home the gold medal that year and deservedly earn her place in history.
An elite runner, Samuelson won gold in several other famous marathons including the Auckland Marathon, the Nike OTC MArathon, and the Boston Marathon twice!

Maryland – Michael Phelps

Arguably the greatest Olympian in the history of sports, Michael Phelps has won a record 23 Olympic gold medals and won the most golds in a single game with eight. After retiring, the legendary swimmer returned to the pool at the 2016 Rio Olympics to take five more golds and become the most decorated Olympian in history.
Phelps has officially retired so someone else can have a chance at the next Olympics.

Massachusetts – Rocky Marciano

To finish a boxing career undefeated is something few could ever dream of, but heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano did. Not only did he retire undefeated, but due to the dangerous nature of boxing in the heavyweight division, his accomplishments are all that more impressive.
Even the great Muhammad Ali lost several fights during his career, while Marciano went 49-0. The only person to rival his record is Floyd Mayweather, who’s at 50-0.

Michigan – Magic Johnson

The best thing about Magic Johnson’s talent was that he could turn any team into winners basically all by himself. That’s exactly what Johnson did at high school, but when surrounded by equally talented ballers, Johnson’s teams played on a different level.
He played his whole career with the Lakers and won the NBA Championship five times, winning the NBA Finals MVP three times to prove how important he was to LA.

Minnesota – Bronko Nagurski

Legendary fullback Bronko Nagurski was one talented man, and while he was playing in the NFL with the Bears, he was competing in wrestling tournaments.
Nagurski retired from playing football in 1937 but that didn’t stop him dominating opponents on the wrestling mat, and he won a National Wrestling Association world championship in 1939. It’s challenging for athletes to excel in just one sport, but Nagurski was better than most at two.

Mississippi – Jerry Rice E

Jerry Rice is thought to be the greatest ever wide receiver in NFL history and his 20 years playing in the big league is pretty much unheard of. Rice broke all kinds of records when he was playing football; including most receptions, receiving touchdowns, and receiving yards.
Rice won three Super Bowls during his career and has been inducted in the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame for everything he did.

Missouri – Stan Musial

Stan Musical had an amazing baseball career, and one of the longest at 24 years. In those 24 years, he was selected for the All-Star game a total of 24 times so it’s little surprise he’s one of the greatest baseball players of all time.
Not only did Musial earn three World Series victories as a player, but he won a Presidential Medal of Freedom and became an advisor to President Johnson.

Montana – Phil Jackson

As an NBA player, Phil Jackson was able to win two championships with the New York Knicks during the ’70s. He then went on to become one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time, winning a total of 11 titles thanks mainly to the Bulls team including Jordan.
Thanks to his incredible coaching career basketball fans won’t forget Phil Jackson, and how good he was at winning when it really mattered.

Nebraska – Bob Gibson

Gibson was al all around athlete and played both baseball and basketball. He was drafted to MLB and became a starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, making himself a legend to Redbirds fans.
Before making it to MLB, Gibson played basketball and had a stint playing with the Globetrotters, before seeking some real competition on the baseball diamond. He won the World Series twice even was the league’s MVP in 1968.

Nevada – Andre Agassi

As a player he won eight major tennis titles, even earning the Grand Slam by winning all four at least once. In 2011 Agassi was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

New Hampshire – Bode Miller

Bode Miller became one of the most highly decorated New Hampshire athletes thanks to his great Winter Olympics career. He was on five Team USA Winter Olympic teams and took six medals in that time, with his proudest achievement being the gold he earned in the super combined event.
In his career, he also won 33 World Cup Championships to become one of the most dominant downhill skiers of his generation.

New Jersey – Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis was one of the best athletes to represent Team USA at the Olympics. He won nine gold medals over four Olympic Games and many other golds at the World Championships.
The track and field star was such a good all-around athlete that he was drafted to the Chicago Bulls in 1984. He was also drafted to the Dallas Cowboys in 1984 even though he didn’t play football in college!

New Mexico – Ronnie Lott

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, defensive back Ronnie Lott became a footballing hero for the San Francisco 49ers after helping them to win four Super Bowls. He is an eight-time All-Pro and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 2000.
Lott made a total of 1,146 tackles and 63 interceptions during his illustrious football career. The defensive back was twice the interceptions leader in the NFL.

New York – Lou Gehrig

New York has a fine tradition with baseball thanks to the Yankees, and one of the greatest ever to wear the famous uniform was Lou Gehrig. Gehrig had an amazing career, spanning 17 years until it was cut short due to a diagnosis of ALS.
He was known as baseball’s iron man after playing in 2,130 consecutive games, winning the World Series six times and a triple crown in 1934.

North Carolina – Michael Jordan

Basketball legend Michael Jordan can claim to be the best American athlete of all time, so of course, he wins in his home state of North Carolina.
He is the most recognized name in basketball, and his popularity during the ’90s led to him becoming one of the biggest stars on the planet. Jordan won six NBA Championships, was the scoring champion ten times and played for the All-Stars 14 times.

North Dakota – Roger Maris

In 1961 Roger Maris did the unthinkable, he surpassed Babe Ruth’s home run record in a season by scoring 61. His record has since been broken, but it stood for over 30 years. During his career, Maris won the World Series three times, twice with the Yankees, and once more with the St. Louis Cardinals.
He was a seven-time All-Star and received the Golden Glove after an outstanding season in 1960.

Ohio – LeBron James

LeBron James recently broke into the top five overall points scored in the NBA, but as he continues to play, he’ll be chasing down those above him. Michael Jordan is already in sight, and if James can keep up his amazing level of scoring, he might even surpass the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
In his career, James has always been on the hunt for championships and has won the NBA Championship three times.

Oklahoma – Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe was one of the first athletes to excel at more than one sport, and accomplish everything a sports person could hope for.
Thorpe played football for over a decade, and when he retired, he then played six more years in MLB with the New York Giants. He also won two Olympic gold medals at the 1912 Games in Stockholm, triumphing in pentathlon and decathlon, showing just how well-rounded he was.

Oregon – Ashton Eaton

Being competitive in the decathlon at Olympic level means you need to be pretty great at ten different disciplines. Oregon’s Ashton Eaton was world class at all ten, and he won Olympic gold at the London Games, before retaining his medal in 2016.
In 2012, Eaton recorded a new world record just weeks before he went into the Olympics. There’s nothing like breaking a world record to warm up for the Olympics!

Pennsylvania – Wilt Chamberlain

In one single game, Wilt Chamberlain made sure he would be forever remembered in basketball. He scored 100 points in one game, something that has so far never been repeated.
Before he entered the NBA, Chamberlain was a star with the Harlem Globetrotters before he went on to win two titles with the 76ers and the Lakers. Chamberlain lived life to the full and could have no regrets over an amazing career.

Rhode Island – Nap Lajoie

Second baseman Nap Lajoie played in MLB for 20 years with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Naps. He led the batting average in the league five times and was the highest hitter four times.
Lajoie was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. He would have played more games, but for an injury, his leg got infected after getting spiked on the diamond and nearly had it amputated.

South Carolina – Joe Frazier E

Joe Frazier first became known to American boxing fans after he took Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games. He then captured the heavyweight world title and was one of the fiercest fighters to ever step in the ring.
Frazier had a rivalry with Muhammed Ali and beat him in their first encounter. Ali won the next two, but he shocked the world when he took down Ali in his prime.

South Dakota – Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar is known for his professional wrestling and mixed martial arts career, but he has more strings to his bow. Lesnar played football in high school and after several years with the WWE made the unexpected switch to the NFL.
He signed with the Minnesota Vikings but due to injury was released. Lesnar went on to fight in the UFC, becoming the heavyweight champion before returning to the WWE again.

Tennessee – Reggie White

Reggie White was one of the biggest athletes to ever appear in the NFL, weighing in at 300 lb and standing at 6’5”. The fearsome defensive end was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice and helped the Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl in 1997.
White was the number four pick in the 1984 draft and is a member of the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame.

Texas – Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Known simply as “Babe,” Zaharias made sure she lived life the way she wanted and achieved all of her goals in her 45 years. Zaharias was an Olympic gold medalist at the 1932 Games in Los Angeles, winning both the 80 m hurdles and javelin throw events.
She then moved into professional golf and won 10 LPGA major championships. Zaharias was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1951.

Utah – Cael Sanderson

Born in Salt Lake City, Cael Sanderson did something few thought was possible, he finished his college wrestling career undefeated. Of 159 matches he was never outscored by any of his opponents.
Sanderson won four state championships in high school and four NCAA championships at college. He went on to win Olympic gold in 2004 and now coaches wrestling at Penn State University, helping the college win six national titles so far.

Vermont – Carlton Fisk

Carlton Fisk played top level baseball for 24 years and earned plenty of accolades from his peers during that time. When he retired, he held the highest number of home runs hit by a catcher in MLB history with 351, but that record has since been beaten.
He still holds the record for the most years served behind the plate, playing all 24 of his seasons in MLB in the same spot.

Virginia – Arthur Ashe

Ashe is one of the most important athletes from Virginia. The tennis star won three Grand Slams and was the first black player to represent America in the Davis Cup.
He is also the only black tennis player ever to have won Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the US Open. Ashe was a trailblazer for many African-American athletes, and his success on the tennis court inspired many others to get into tennis.

Washington – John Stockton

John Stockton was one of the most underrated point guards in the history of the NBA. Stockton has the most career assists of any player in the NBA, with 15,806. He helped Team USA win gold at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics while being selected to play the All-Star game ten times.
The only mark against him is that he never managed to win the NBA Championship during his playing career.

West Virginia – Jerry West

He stopped playing basketball in 1974, but his silhouette still remains the NBA logo today. West helped the Lakers win the NBA Championship in 1972 and was selected in the All-Star team 14 times during his impressive career.
He moved upstairs at the Lakers, and as an executive helped guide the Lakers to eight more championships. West was also part of the 1960 American Olympic team that won gold in Rome.

Wisconsin – Eric Heiden

Eric Heiden was born in Wisconsin and became one of the greatest speed skaters in history. At the Winter Olympics in 1980, Heiden became an American hero after winning five gold medals in Lake Placid.
After hanging up his skates, Heiden began cycling and even took part in the 1986 Tour de France. He was so good at cycling that he has been inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.

Wyoming – Boyd Dowler

The name Boyd Dowler will never be forgotten in Green Bay as the wide receiver helped the Packers to win the first ever Super Bowl, and then the following one!
Dowler is in the Packers Hall of Fame and was selected in the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team alongside legends like Johnny Unitas, Forrest Gregg, and Dick Butkus. Mention Boyd Dowler in Wyoming, and he’s sure to be celebrated as a hometown hero.