Top 5 Coolest Athletes Of All Time
We average Joes look upon professional athletes with envy. We want their talents, their wealth, their lifestyles, even their height. But most of all, we want to be that cool because, let’s face it, athletes are cool. But then there are those who embody all that is cool. And so we present the Top 5 coolest athletes of all time.
5. Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick burst onto the racing scene in 2005 when she became the first female to ever lead during the Indianapolis 500. That year, Patrick was named Rookie of the Year for both the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series season. Patrick won her first race in April 2008 at Twin Ring Motegi in the Indy Japan 300, becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race. But she was considered cool long before then. Two months prior to her win, Patrick appeared in the February 15 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. And the female racing phenom has gotten cooler and sexier in recent years. She was voted the sexiest athlete in Victoria Secret’s 2007 “What is Sexy” list, and came in as the 42nd sexiest woman in the world in FHM’s 2006 list. Patrick graced SI’s Swimsuit Issue a second time in February 2009, when she posed with a Shelby Cobra 427. As if that’s not enough, Patrick’s cool status was cemented when she appeared in Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got” music video, in which she drives a Pagani Zonda Roadster.
David Beckham didn’t bring soccer to America, Pelé did. Pelé was more successful than Becks too. Still widely considered the most talented athlete to ever kick a soccer ball, Pelé was also the coolest soccer player on and off the field. He came out of semi-retirement to play for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, and though soccer wasn’t embraced in the U.S. like it was everywhere else in the world, Pelé helped make it cool and became an instant celebrity when he came here. Pelé played just three seasons with the Cosmos, leading them to the NASL championship in his final season. Along with his three World Cup trophies and numerous other achievements, Pelé is the most decorated soccer player in the game’s history. But even more importantly, he was America’s first soccer celebrity.
3. Tony Hawk
He was the first skateboarder to pull off a 900. That’s enough said right there. But Tony Hawk’s coolness goes far beyond his skateboarding accolades and unparalleled feats. Just as Pelé made soccer a cool sport in the U.S., Hawk turned skateboarding mainstream. He started the Boom Boom HuckJam tour in 2002, during which he toured the country with other big names from the skateboarding, motocross and BMX worlds. His biggest achievement, though, is undoubtedly his self-named video game series. Available for just about every game console since Nintendo 64 was made, Tony Hawk’s numerous skateboarding video games brought the extreme sport into millions of kids’ homes, and turned skateboarding mainstream at the same time.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
If cool points were awarded based on the number of nicknames one possessed, Shaq would be the coolest human being to ever walk this planet. On the basketball court, The Diesel claimed four championship rings, three with the L.A. Lakers and one with the Miami Heat, to go along with numerous scoring champion awards, All-Star game awards and Finals series awards. But the NBA’s original Superman found success far beyond the court. Shaq starred in such critically acclaimed films as Kazaam and Steel, has released four rap albums, including his first, Shaq Diesel, which went platinum, and has hosted reality TV series Shaq’s Big Challenge and Shaq Vs. At the beginning of the month, The Big Aristotle announced his retirement from the NBA after for 19 years. During a retirement press conference at his Orlando mansion, Shaq Fu continued to crack up media and onlookers alike with fake phone calls to be the next New York Knicks general manager and quips about his playing days. The Big Cactus will undoubtedly be remembered as not only one of the funniest athletes of all time, but definitely one of the coolest.
1. Muhammad Ali
It doesn’t get any cooler than The Greatest. And Muhammad Ali was indeed the greatest. Not just the greatest boxer, but arguably the greatest, most famous athlete ever. And he wasn’t just great, he was cool. Ali knew he was good, he knew he was fast and he knew he was pretty, so he told everyone else just to make sure they wouldn’t forget. The Champ held the world heavyweight title three times, and amassed 56 wins, 37 by KO, and just five losses in his career. Ali didn’t just proclaim that he could “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” in the ring, but he actually appeared to do so. He was the first to use the “rope-a-dope” technique, and began the trend of hyping boxing matches with pre-fight trash talk. In 1999, Sports Illustrated crowned Ali “Sportsman of the Century,” while the BBC named him “Sports Personality of the Century.” Ali won’t merely be remembered as The Greatest, he’ll also be remembered as The Coolest.
Matt Schiffman covers sports and pop culture from Orlando, FL. You can follow him on Twitter @MattSchiffman
Find More Top 5 Lists…
Read More About Sports…