Being the best in one sport need years of hard work and dedication. And to be the best in two sports is something that only elite, talented persons can do.
Today we are talking about some of the best two sports athletes of all time. These legendary athletes are superstars in at least one sport while excelling in other sports. They are some of the most talented athletes in sports history.
Most of the athletes on our list are related to either baseball, football, or basketball. These three sports are some of the most played sports in the world.
Let us look at some of the most skilled and talented athletes who are the best two sports athletes of all time.
15 Legendary Best Two-Sport Athlete Of All Time
Our source of reference for this article is Bleacherreport and History.com. Before diving into the details, let us look at the overall ranking of our list in the table below.
|15. Charlie Ward||Football / Basketball|
|14. Kenny Lofton||Baseball / Basketball|
|13. Tony Gwynn||Baseball / Basketball|
|12. Danny Ainge||Baseball / Basketball|
|11. John Elway||Football / Baseball|
|10. Dave Winfield||Baseball / Basketball|
|9. Dave DeBusschere||Baseball / Basketball|
|8. Brian Jordan||Baseball / Basketball|
|7. Bob Hayes||Track & Field / Football|
|6. Bob Gibson||Baseball / Basketball|
|5. Babe Didrikson Zaharias||Track & Field / Golf|
|4. Bo Jackson||Football / Basketball|
|3. Deion Sanders||Football / Baseball|
|2. Jim Brown||Football / Lacrosse|
|1. Jim Thrope||Football / Basketball|
Charlie Ward, 15.
Former American basketball and football player Charlie Ward is our first name on the list. The 51-year-old famously chose to play in the NBA rather than being selected by the NFL.
During his undergraduate career, Ward was a productive football player. As a quarterback, he was the 1993 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Davey O’Brien Award winner.
However, the New York Knicks selected Ward in the first round of the 1994 NBA selection, 26th overall, after he went undrafted in the NFL draft. He was a member of the Knicks from 1994 until 2004.
He later signed with the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. Ward was frequently referred to as “the best quarterback in New York” throughout his professional stint as an NBA player. In 2005, he ended his professional career.
Ward was admitted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
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Kenny Lofton 14.
Kenny Lofton, a former MLB center fielder who is 55 years old, is ranked 14th among the top athletes who play two sports. He received a basketball scholarship to attend the University of Arizona.
In the Astro farm system, Lofton struggled in his early professional career. He nevertheless advanced swiftly, and in 1991 he made his MLB debut. And He has since played for numerous other MLB teams.
He currently retains the 34-stolen base record for all postseason games. In a similar vein, Lofton has earned six All-Star selections, four Gold Glove Awards, and five AL stolen base leader awards.
He is one of just two athletes to have participated in both the 1998 MLB World Series and the collegiate basketball Final Four.
Tony Gwynn 13.
American right fielder Tony Gwynn, also known by the moniker “Mr. Padre,” played collegiate basketball for the Aztecs. He spent 20 seasons playing for the San Diego Padres after being born on May 9, 1960.
He was given basketball scholarships but not baseball ones to play in college. Also passed over in the 1977 MLB Draft was Gwynn. Then, the Padres selected him with the 58th overall choice in the 1981 MLB Draft.
During his professional career, Gwynn earned eight batting titles, which is tied for the most in NL history. He is regarded as one of baseball’s best and most reliable hitters ever.
He was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. Sadly, on June 16, 2014, this famous athlete passed away at the age of 54.
Danny Ainge 12.
the age of 63 Our 12th-ranked best two-sport athlete is Danny Ainge. He has experience as a professional baseball player, coach, and basketball player.
In high school, Ainge excelled in three sports: baseball, basketball, and football. He won the John R. Wooden Award for the best male college basketball player as well as the national basketball college player of the year.
Ainge has experience with NBA teams including the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, and Sacramento Kings. He switched to coaching after leaving a professional career.
Ainge served as the Phoenix Suns’ head coach from 1996 to 1999. He currently works with Utah Jazz as an executive.
John Elway, 11
The 62-year-old former quarterback John Elway is up next. He played baseball and college football while he was a student at Stanford University.
Baseball player Elway excelled at the sport. He was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1981 MLB Draft, 52nd overall.
And He is the Broncos’ general manager and executive vice president of football operations following his retirement.
He was admitted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted him in 2004.
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Dave Winfield 10.
The famous finest two-sport athlete of all time, a 70-year-old former MLB right fielder, is ranked number ten. He participated in MLB for more than 22 years for numerous teams.
Winfield was given a full scholarship to attend the University of Minnesota in 1969. For the Minnesota Golden Gophers, he participated in basketball and baseball. He spent two seasons playing collegiate summer baseball for the Fairbanks Alaska Goldpanners in 1972.
Winfield, a pitcher, was selected as the 1973 College World Series MVP and an All-American. He was selected by the San Diego Padres with the fourth overall choice in the MLB. He was also selected by the Utah Stars of the ABA and the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA.
Winfield was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the 17th round of the NFL draft despite never playing collegiate football. The dual-sport athlete signed with the Padres and decided on baseball.
Dave DeBuschere 9.
NBA player, MLB player, and coach Dave DeBusschere was an American. He was born on October 16, 1940, and in 1996 he was listed as one of the top 50 NBA players ever.
Basketball has been a sport for DeBusschere since high school. In his junior year, he was awarded all-state, and in his senior year, he coached his team to the Michigan Class A high school basketball title.
Baseball and basketball were two of DeBusschere’s sports throughout his collegiate year. He assisted his collegiate basketball team in advancing once to the NCAA tournament and twice to the National Invitation Tournament.
DeBusschere was selected by the Detroit Pistons as a territorial draft pick in the 1963 NBA draft. He is one of just 13 athletes who have competed in both the MLB and NBA.
DeBusschere was honored with a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 1983. On May 14, 2003, this illustrious two-sport athlete passed away at the age of 62.
Brian Jordan 8.
Brian Jordan, a 55-year-old former MLB outfielder and NFL safety, is our seventh choice for the best dual-sport athlete. He has been a baseball and football player since high school.
He was selected in the first round of the 1988 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Jordan was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He was, nevertheless, released from the NFL training camp.
Jordan played for the Atlanta Falcons during his brief NFL career. Jordan agreed to a new contract with St. Louis in 1992.
After 2006, he ended his MLB career. Jordan then started working as a pre-game analyst and commentator on TV.
Bob Hayes 7.
On our number 6, we have a former football wide receiver who won an Olympic gold medal in the sprint. On December 20, 1942, “Bullet Bob,” as he was known, was born. He participated in 11 NFL seasons.
The only athlete in sports history to earn a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal is Hayes. He was a standout track and field athlete while he was a student at Florida A&M University.
Hayes competed for the US in track & field at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 1964. In the 100 meters and a 4×100 relay, he took home two gold medals. Then, in the seventh round of the 1964 NFL selection, the Dallas Cowboys selected him.
Hayes had rudimentary football abilities at first, but he quickly became a top wide receiver. He played for the Cowboys from 1965 to 1974 before spending one season with the San Francisco 49ers.
Sadly, on September 20, 1942, at the age of 59, this great two-star sportsman passed away. Hayes was admitted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He accomplishes this accomplishment as the second Olympic gold medalist.
Bob Gibson 6.
Bob Gibson, a former American professional baseball pitcher who also played basketball, is listed at number six. He entered the Major League Baseball in 1959 and was born on November 9, 1935.
Gibson excelled in three sports during his senior year of high school. He participated in baseball, basketball, and track. He was selected for the basketball All-State team during his senior year.
Gibson started working as a starting pitcher full-time in 1961. He also developed a reputation for scaring rival hitters and being fiercely competitive.
Gibson left the MLB in 1975, and in 1981, he was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sadly, on October 2, 2020, this famous athlete passed away from pancreatic cancer.
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Babe Didrikson Zaharias, number 5.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the only female athlete on the list, is ranked fifth. She excelled in golf, basketball, and track & field. She is recognized as one of the best athletes of all time and was born on June 26, 1911.
Zaharias is most well-known for her accomplishments in track and golf. She had exceptional athletic ability and was a skilled seamstress. But it was in track and field that she first rose to fame.
At the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, Zaharias broke four world records while taking home two gold and one silver in the track and field competition.
She is the first athlete, male or female, to have captured individual Olympic medals in three different track and field running, throwing, and jumping competitions. Later, in 1935, Zaharias started playing golf.
Despite being a latecomer, she quickly gained recognition for her skill as a golfer. As a professional golfer, she won 10 major titles from the Ladies Professional Gold Association.
The first woman to try to qualify for the U.S. Open was Zaharias, but her application was turned down. On September 27, 1956, this all-around outstanding athlete went away at the age of 45.
Bo Jackson 4.
Bo Jackson played football and baseball professionally in the past. The 59-year-old is the only athlete in professional sports history to be selected to both the baseball and the football All-Star teams.
Jackson participated in baseball and college football during his first year of study. He was chosen by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1982 MLB draft before attending Auburn University.
Jackson, though, decided to go to college. He received the Heisman Trophy in 1985 while still in college. He was chosen first overall in the 1986 NFL draft by MLB team Kansas City.
And He was also chosen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1986 NFL Draft. Jackson decided to play baseball and join with Kansas City. He joined the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987, where he made his NFL debut.
Jackson’s football career was halted in 1991 by a hip injury, while his baseball career came to an end in 1994. He is now regarded as one of the best athletes of all time thanks to his incredible accomplishments.
Deion Sanders 3.
Deion Sanders, a former player and current football coach, is ranked third among the top two-sport athletes. The 54-year-old player, known by the nicknames “Prime Time” and “Neon Deion,” played in the NFL for 14 seasons and the MLB for nine.
Sanders played football, baseball, and track while a student at Florida State University.
Sanders was first selected by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the 1985 draft, but he declined to sign with them.
He was chosen by the New York Yankees in the thirty-first round of the 1988 MLB draft, and he later signed with them.
In a similar vein, he was chosen by the Atlanta Braves as the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. Sanders made the switch from playing professionally to coaching football after quitting.
In 2011, he was admitted to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Sanders also started working as an analyst for BarstoolSports, the NFL Network, and CBS Sports.
Jim Brown 2.
Former football player Jim Brown, who is now 86, is also a skilled basketball player. He is regarded as one of the best players in NFL history as well as one of the best running backs of all time.
During his collegiate year, Brown participated in multiple sports. In addition to football, he was a standout in basketball, track, and lacrosse in particular. The Lacrosse Hall of Fame accepts him.
He participated in the NFL from 1957 until 1965. He had broken the majority of significant rushing records by the time he retired.
The Sporting News ranked Brown the greatest player in the history of professional football in 2002. He was credited with 12,312 running yards on 2,359 carries, along with 106 touchdowns.
Brown transitioned to acting after giving up a career as a professional player. This illustrious two-sport athlete starred in a number of 1970s films.
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Jim Thorpe 1.
Athlete and Olympic gold winner Jim Thorpe, also known as Wa-Tho-Huk (Bright Path), was an American. Thrope is our top two-sport athlete of all time and is regarded as one of the most adaptable athletes.
Thorpe was a May 22, 19887 birth. He was the first Native American to represent the United States and take home an Olympic gold medal. He competed for his nation in track and field.
During his freshman year at college, Thorpe participated in football, baseball, lacrosse, and even ballroom dancing.
He began playing professional football in 1915 with the Canton Bulldogs.
The finest athlete of the first 50 years of the 20th century, according to the Associated Press, was Jim Thorpe. In 1963, he was also admitted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In addition, the Pennsylvanian town of Jim Thrope was named in honor of this renowned athlete. On March 28, 1953, he tragically departed away at the age of 65.
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Being a professional athlete requires a lot of time, effort, and commitment. Furthermore, excelling at two sports at the same time is a remarkable accomplishment.
These athletes dominated the sports they participated in, earning them a place among the greatest in the history of the sport.
Which sportsmen do you consider to be the greatest two-sport athletes ever? Do inform us!