America’s Best Athlete from Each State

According to statistics, there are about 328 million people in the United States right now. How many of those people play sports? How many make it big? How many people are, still, to this day, names that even casual sports fans can remember?
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Formal sports began in America all the way back in the 1770s! Now, with fifty states, we’ve collected the best, or perhaps most famous, athlete from every part of the union. From classic sluggers to still-playing superstars, find out which big-name comes from your home state and how many of these players you recognize.

Alabama – Willie Mays

With over 650 home runs, three thousand hits, and a 24-time All-Star player, if Mays weren’t in the Hall of Fame, then it should be a crime. Thankfully, he is. This incredible player is also a 12-time Golden Glove Winner, which honors the best defender at each position. He won twelve times!

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During his long career (twenty-two years), he played for the Giants, both in New York and San Francisco, and for the New York Mets. He has an outstanding batting average of .302. He’s on the All-Time team. He’s one of the best players EVER.

Alaska – Scott Gomez

As both the largest and one of the least-populated states in the union, Alaska doesn’t have as many options as other states. Still, they gave us Scott Gomez. He’s played for a wide range of teams, including the New Jersey Devils, the New York Rangers, the Montreal Canadians, the San Jose Sharks, the Florida Panthers, and the Ottawa Senators!

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Scott has won the Stanley Cup twice, he’s been a two-time All-Star, and when he first slid out onto the ice in 1999, he ended up winning Rookie of the Year. He played until 2016. He’s played in more than a thousand NHL games, a number that only about three-hundred and fifty players have achieved.

Arizona – Curley Culp

This big man is a legacy when it comes to National Football League players from Arizona. Curley Culp was recognized as the 1975 Defensive Player of the Year, he played his way to the Pro Bowl six times during his career, and he was on the Kansas City Chiefs when they beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

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Drafted by the Denver Broncos, he never played a snap for them, but the Chiefs picked him up, and he led them to victory. He’s in the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame and even made First-team All-Pro in 1975 – meaning he was the best at his position for the entire year.

Arkansas – Don Hutson

We’re going way back for this one. Born in 1913, Hutson was one of the forefathers of football. All of his achievements would be too long for us to list here, so let’s go quickly through some of them: He was a two-time NFL MVP, a three-time NFL champion, and he scored over ninety touchdowns.


Under coach Curly Lambeau Don helped the Green Bay Packers become the most winning team in professional sports. Huston’s position was an “end,” which is a position that doesn’t exist anymore.

California – Jackie Robinson

California is a big state, and there are plenty of athletes that have come from the western edge of the lower forty-eight states. We’re going with Jackie Robinson, who not only ended up being a six-time member of the All-Star game, but he had a lifetime batting average of .311, a number that not many people are able to reach.

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In addition, Robinson broke down barriers – he was the first black player in the world of Major League Baseball. He fought for his right and endured plenty of abuse, but he proved them all wrong with his skills and focus.

Colorado – Missy Franklin

This is one name that you might not recognize, but you should. You should especially recognize it if you’re a fan of the Olympics, or of swimming, or both. Missy Franklin, born in California but grown in Aurora, Colorado, made her first splash at the Olympics in 2012 at the age of just seventeen.

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Before she retired from swimming only six years later, she had collected five gold medals, eighteen world champion medals, and was made the FINA (the International Swimming Federation) swimmer of the year twice. Missy set four different world records in swimming, two of them during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Connecticut – Brian Leetch

The best athlete from this small state is none other than Brian Leetch, a professional hockey player. He’s not just pro – he’s been named one of the one hundred greatest NHL players in history. During Leetch’s eighteen-year career, he accumulated two Norris Trophies (for best defensive player) and was the first American-born winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.

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For almost twenty years, he played for the Rangers, Maple Leafs, or Bruins. His number two jersey has been retired by the Rangers. Mark Messier, one of his teammates, used to call Leetch the “Greatest Ranger of all time.”

Delaware – Randy White

Randy White is known as the “Manster.” He got the nickname because many say he is half-man, half-monster. His impressive skills on the gridiron made him a standout defensive tackle and linebacker, and the awards rolled in. When he won Super Bowl XII with the Cowboys, they named him the Super Bowl MVP.

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Randy was elected to the Pro Bowl nine times and was also made first-time All-Pro nine times. The Cowboys also put him in the Ring of Honor, which highlights the best players from this storied franchise. White is in the College Football Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Delaware Sports Museum. So much fame!

Washington, D.C. – Elgin Baylor

No, not a state, but it still counts. Baylor was one of the players that helped put the Los Angeles Lakers on the map as one of the NBA’s unbeatable franchises. As a small forward, he delighted audiences and sportscasters with his highlights on both offense and defense. He had a rebound average of twenty per game, and he was also the first NBA player to score seventy points in a single game.

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Elgin was champ in 1972, an eleven-time NBA All-Star, a ten-time All-NBA First Team member, and so, so, so much more. His number twenty-two jersey has been returned by the Lakers and his college team, the Seattle Redhawks.

Florida – Deion Sanders

No matter what state Deion Sanders was going to be from, there was a monster chance that he was going to end up on this list. He’s the best cover corner the NFL has ever seen – but that’s not all. Sanders also played baseball, racking up 53 career intercepts and 186 stolen bases before he decided to hang up his cleats.

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Sanders is a two-time Super Bowl champion. He is also an eight-time First-team All-Pro (six times as a cornerback, once as a kick returner, and once as a punt returner), and if there’s a Hall of Fame for football, he’s in it, for sure.

Georgia – Ty Cobb

While Cobb played for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Athletics, he was always a Georgia boy at heart. He has the highest career batting average ever – like, ever, ever.  It’s all the way up there at .366, meaning more than every three times he stepped up to the plate, Cobb reached first base. It’s an incredible achievement.

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Ty also has more than four THOUSAND career hits. He was made the batting champion twelve times. He’s on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, and there’s a case to be made about him being the greatest player ever.

Hawaii – Duke Kahanamoku

If you’ve ever hit the waves, then you owe Duke Kahanamoku a debt of gratitude. He’s the Godfather of surfing, and that’s just scratching the surface. Duke been crowned a swimming Olympic Gold medalist three times and has collected two other Olympic medals besides.


Hawaii already enjoyed surfing, but Kahanamoku took it mainstream by introducing it to Australia and the mainland United States. He also acted, was a beach volleyball player, a law enforcement officer, a businessman, Shriner, and a Scottish Rite Freemason. It seems there’s nothing this guy couldn’t do!

Idaho – Harmon Killebrew

While he was earning the nickname “The Killer,” what do you think that Killebrew got up to? He was a feared power hitter whenever he stepped up to the plate, and he earned much more than just a dynamite nickname.


Harmon logged over five hundred, and fifty home runs made MLB All-Star thirteen times and was the AL home run leader six times. He spent most of his time with the Washington Senators, who moved to Minnesota to become the Twins. There Killebrew joined the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame and had his number three jersey retired.

Illinois – Otto Graham

He looks like he just realized he left the oven on, but don’t take him for a fool – Otto Graham will run you over. He and his teams appeared in the NFL Championship Game ten times, winning seven of those times while Graham worked his way to a three-time NFL MVP.

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Otto spent most of his time playing for the Cleveland Browns, and he left behind one of the most incredible legacies in football – at one point, he had the most passing yards, passing touchdowns, and running touchdowns. Ever. To call this guy a destructive force on the field is almost a disservice. He owned the game.

Indiana – Larry Bird

Born in French Lick, Indiana, Larry Bird was known as “the Hick from French Lick” and, more generously, “Larry Legend.” Standing at six-foot-nine, Bird led his Indiana State Sycamores to an undefeated regular season from 1978 to 1979, something that is almost unheard of.

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When Bird turned pro, he went to the Boston Celtics from ’79 to 1992, and while he was there, he earned all the awards. Every single one. NBA champ? Three times. MVP? Also, three times. All-Star Game MVP? Done. Rookie of the Year, jersey retired by Celtics and Sycamores, done, done done. AP Athlete of the Year, in 1986? Done.

Iowa – Bob Feller

The name Bob lends itself to nicknames so well. Case in point, our Iowa athlete, Bob Feller. People called him “The Heater from Van Meter,” “Bullet Bob,” and “Rapid Robert.” He collected these titles while playing for the Cleveland Indians for twenty years.

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Feller might be one of the greatest pitchers to ever take the mound – he pitched three no-hitters (which is still a huge feat today) and was a seven-time strikeout leader. Bob was a true baseball prodigy, joining the Indians when he was only seventeen. He was the greatest pitcher of his time and a finalist for the Major League All-Century Team.

Kansas – Barry Sanders

No relation to Deion Sanders, Barry made football history by having the most rushing yards in a season AND the most touchdowns in a single season. The same season! This was for a college season, so only twelve games, but there’s no denying the incredible achievement.

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Barry had an immediate impact on the Detroit Lions when they drafted him in 1989 and set all kinds of records. He made it to the pro bowl all ten years of his professional career before surprising everyone with early retirement. His team never made it to the Super Bowl, but that didn’t stop Sanders from becoming one of the most dangerous players of the nineties.

Kentucky – Muhammad Ali

Yeah, he’s from Kentucky. We didn’t know either. You might already know a thing or two about the greatest boxer ever, like how right after he graduated high school, he won a gold medal in boxing at the Olympics. A few short years later, Ali became the heavyweight champion of the world.

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He is still the first and only three-time lineal heavyweight champion in boxing history, meaning every time someone knocked him down, he got right back up and took his title back. With an impressive record of 55-57 overall, “Sports Illustrated” has named him the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

Louisiana – Peyton Manning

From a humble place called New Orleans, Louisiana, Manning has become one of the most celebrated football players ever. With the first selection in the 1998 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts snatched him up. With Peyton at the helm, the team won a Super Bowl.

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He won another with the Denver Broncos. The win made him the first starting quarterback to win the game with more than one franchise. Manning has been voted NFL MVP a record five times, made it to the pro bowl fourteen times, and was the Super Bowl MVP for Super Bowl XLI. Think of an award a quarterback could conceivably win — Manning has almost certainly won it.

Maine – Ian Crocke

Swimming isn’t most people’s first thought when it comes to the most famous athletes, but Ian Crocker is here to change that. He’s Maine’s most celebrated athlete thanks to his twenty-one medals, which he has collected from Olympic achievement, the PAN Pacific Swimming Championships, and the FINA World Aquatics Championships.

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Ian was the first man to ever swim under fifty-one seconds in the 100-meter butterfly, eventually getting his time down to 50.40 seconds. Michael Phelps has now beaten his time (big surprise), but we’ll always remember the first to do it. Crocker is now an assistant swim coach in Austin, Texas.

Maryland – Babe Ruth

In the history of baseball, there is one name that stands above them all. Whether you know him as “The Bambino” or “The Sultan of Swat,” or just as Babe, you still know him. During his time with the Boston Red Sox, he became the twelve-time American League home run leader.

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Ruth is also a seven-time world series champion and has a whopping 714 career home runs. He had a batting average of .342, and the only clear reason he didn’t break three thousand hits was the lower number of games played per season back in the 1910s, 20s, and 30s. Babe swung for more than twenty years before hanging up his bat, much to the relief of opposing teams.

Massachusetts – Rocky Marciano

Not the Rocky from the movies, sadly, though the name was part of the inspiration. This powerhouse was a killer in the ring, with forty-nine wins, forty-three knockouts, and zero losses.

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Zero losses on its own is a wild achievement, but there’s nothing as decisive as knocking your opponent out when you’re both in the ring. The international boxing world celebrated his success up until the time of his unfortunate death in an aircraft accident when bad weather set in and the novice pilot tried to land on a small airfield outside Iowa, striking a tree. Massachusetts still celebrates his legacy.

Michigan – Magic Johnson

Just like his contemporary and long-time rival Larry Bird, Magic Johnson stood at six-foot-nine and played like it. He’s one of the most well-known players in NBA history, and his accolades include being a five-time NBA champ, a three-time NBA MVP, and four-time assist leader.

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Johnson ended up changing the landscape of the sport forever and set all sorts of records before retiring a total of three times, the last one taking place in 1996. He’s been honored as one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History.” To his credit, he has ten total championships, five of which as a part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Minnesota – Bronko Nagurski

Six-foot-two and 220 pounds don’t seem very big for a football player these days, but during the thirties and early forties, when Bronko Nagurski played, it was huge. Primarily a fullback, he would often help out the offensive and defensive lines due to his titanic size. He became a three-time NFL champion, a four-time First-team All-Pro, and has had his number three jersey retired by the Chicago Bears.

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Bronko has also, amazingly, became a two-time wrestling heavyweight champion. His real name is Bronislau, but there’s no denying this man was a bronco. He was an inaugural inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when it first opened in 1963.

Mississippi – Jerry Rice

The San Francisco 49ers were the dominant team in the NFL during the eighties and nineties, and one of the big reasons for that was Jerry Rice. He played an astounding twenty seasons, moving on to the Oakland Raiders, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Broncos before calling it quits. Jerry has three Super Bowl Rings and a Super Bowl MVP; he’s been voted a First-team All-Pro ten times.

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Rice is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in NFL history – period. He is STILL the career leader in receiving yards and touchdown receptions and was once the leader for total yards and touchdowns in a season.

Missouri – Yogi Berra

He played for the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, but since he’s a player that almost anybody can recognize, he’s still the most famous from Missouri. His career statistics include a .285 batting average – not shabby at all – 358 home runs, and almost fifteen hundred runs batted in.

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Yogi is this well-known thanks to his wit and sharp tongue, and there are plenty of stories of him giving people pithy statements. Though he once said, “I really didn’t say everything I said.” His real name is Lawrence Peter Berra, though nobody ever calls him anything but Yogi.

Montana – Dave McNally

Dave McNally’s big claim to fame is being part of the Baltimore Orioles dynasty. He won four American League pennants and two World Series championships between 1966 and 1971. During that period, Dave was one of four twenty-game pitchers – he won twenty or more games for four consecutive seasons along with three other pitchers for the Orioles.


McNally is also the only known pitcher to hit a grand slam (a home run when bases are loaded) during a world-series game. Thanks to a grievance he filed, he was important in creating baseball free agency.

Nebraska – Bob Gibson

As a nine-time All-Star player and two-time World Series champ, Bob Gibson is part of the pantheon of pitchers in Major League Baseball. He’s ranked second only to Walter Johnson.

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He has won the Cy Young award (given to the best pitcher in a year) twice and also won the Gold Glove award nine times. His number forty-five jersey has been retired by the St. Louis Cardinals, and he’s been named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. “Gibby” was also, briefly, a part of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

Nevada – Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux has the nickname “Mad Dog,” but he doesn’t seem intimidating at first. Once he steps up to the mound, however, you’ll realize why he got the moniker. For twenty years, he pitched for four different ball clubs, and two of those teams have retired his number.


Maddux has been an All-Star eight times, a World Series champion in 1995, he’s won the Cy Young Award four years in a row, and got the Gold Glove Award a whopping eighteen times – the most won by a single player ever. In his first year of eligibility, he got into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 97.2% of the votes.

New Hampshire – Carlton Fisk

Here’s another Boston Red Sox player on the list. Nicknamed both “Pudge” and “The Commander,” Fisk has an impressive 376 home runs and more than 2,300 career hits. He was an All-Star player eleven times!


Fisk got the American League Rookie of the Year in 1972 (despite it not technically being his rookie year), and his number has been retired by both teams he played with for. 27 for the Boston Red Soxs and 72 for the Chicago White Sox. He has held a number of longevity records, including the record for most games played as a catcher with 2,226 (though this has been surpassed).

New Jersey – Derek Jeter

New Jersey is lucky that Jeter was born within its bounds – he was a military child, so his family moved around a lot. He was born in Pequannock Township, New Jersey, but his family moved to Michigan, where he played high school baseball, earning a full scholarship to the University of Michigan.

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The Yankees drafted Jeter in 1995, where he went on to have a batting average of .310, almost thirty-five hundred hits, and 260 home runs. He played with the Yankees for almost twenty years, helping them earn five World-series victories, and he was a fourteen-time All-Star.

New Mexico – Brian Urlacher

For New Mexico’s best player, the race is tight between Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher, both football players and both linebackers. However, Urlacher has the edge thanks to his impressive statistics. He has over thirteen hundred tackles, more than forty quarterback sacks, twenty-two interceptions, and five touchdowns – a pretty good number for a linebacker.


Urlacher was voted to the Pro Bowl eight times and was voted as the NFL defensive player of the year in 2005. His entire career was with the Chicago Bears, and he’s one of the top 100 Bears of All Time, as well as a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.

New York – Jim Brown

Plenty of amazing athletes have come from New York, but it’s very hard to overshadow Jim Brown. Not only was Brown a legendary player on the gridiron, but he also mastered lacrosse! Between the end zones, he was an eight-time rushing champion and a three-time NFL MVP.

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Brown garnered a whopping 12,300 rushing yards in total, he was a five-time rushing touchdowns leader, and he’s on the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. And don’t worry – Jim is also in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He only spent eight years for the Browns, but his mark on the franchise is impossible to remove.

North Carolina – Michael Jordan

There are plenty of ballers on this list, but none of them will ever top Jordan. His teams have won six NBA championships, all thanks to him. Jordan himself has been the league scoring champion ten times.

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His total racked-up points are above thirty-nine thousand. Jordan is a legend on and off the court thanks not only to his incredible play but his sportswear brand, his brief stint in baseball, and his starring role in “Space Jam.” It isn’t off-base by much to say he’s the best basketball player ever, and without a doubt, he’s the best athlete from North Carolina.

North Dakota – Roger Maris

North Dakota’s pride and joy when it comes to baseball are the legendary Roger Maris. While he played for the Indians, Kansas City Athletics, the Yankees, and the Cardinals, he collected accolade after accolade. These include being a seven-time All-Star, winning the World Series three times, and two-time American League MVP.

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Maris was also the American League home run leader in 1961. While North Dakota claims this slugger as their own, he was actually born in Hibbing, Minnesota. His family moved to North Dakota four years after his birth. He still holds the American League record for most home runs in a season.

Ohio – LeBron James

There aren’t many members of this list that are still playing, but King James is the exception. All four of the teams he’s played with have benefited greatly from his huge stature and impeccable ball skills. The list of awards and accolades he’s gathered is titanic.

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LeBron has four championships, four NBA Finals MVP awards, and four NBA MVP awards. His feats are many, but his most memorable might be the comeback he led with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. He’s even got a couple of Olympic medals under his belt thanks to his inclusion in the United States Olympic team.

Oklahoma – Mickey Mantle

Here’s another name that historians and baseball fans will all recognize. Mickey’s first love was always baseball – so much so that he turned down a football scholarship in Oklahoma because he just couldn’t stay away from the diamond. Nicknamed the “Commerce Comet,” Mantle led his team to their first win in six years when he joined the team at twenty years old. That team being, of course, the New York Yankees.

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Mantle played with them for almost twenty years, helping them get seven World Series championships. In the meantime, he made it to the All-Star game an eye-popping twenty times. Not just the most celebrated player in Oklahoma, this batsman is one of the best ever.

Oregon – Dale Murphy

During his eighteen-year career with the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Colorado Rockies, Dale Murphy racked up some impressive records. He was the National League home run leader and RBI leader twice each, he won the Gold Glove award five times, and got the Silver Slugger award – for being the best offensive player at his position – four times.

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Murphy’s reputation as a clean player during an era of baseball plagued by steroid scandals has made his non-inclusion in the Hall of Fame a bit of a controversy. However, Murphy is still in the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

Pennsylvania – Joe Montana

One reason the San Francisco team was so dominant in the eighties was Jerry Rice; the other was Joe Montana. He has the highest cumulative passer rating in the Super Bowl, thanks to the fact that he got to the big game four times and never lost.

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Joe was the Super Bowl MVP three times, the NFL MVP twice, the First-team All-Pro three times, and he’s a member of the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. They called him “the Comeback Kid” thanks to his ability to bring the team back from almost certain defeat.

Rhodes Island – Davey Lopes

Lopes has only just recently gotten out of baseball, but he started all the way back in 1972. He spent fifteen years winning for the Dodgers, the Athletics, the Cubs, and the Astros, and then he moved on to managing and coaching for more than half a dozen other teams.

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Lopes was best known for his ability to steal bases, ranking eighth in all-time bases percentage in baseball history. Eighty-five percent of those stolen bases came after he turned forty. For some people, age is just a number. Rhode Island isn’t an athletic powerhouse, but they still have their own favorite, Davey.

South Carolina – Ray Allen

Considered one of the greatest shooters of all time, Ray Allen has taken his skills to four different teams, winning the NBA championship with two of them. From winning South Carolina Mr. Basketball in 1993 to being elected to the NBA All-Star team ten times, Allen proved he is the best player from South Carolina (despite being born in California).

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He is responsible for one of the most memorable plays in NBA history. He scored a three-pointer to tie the 6th game of the 2013 NBA Finals. He did that with only five seconds left. Allen has won a gold medal, has scored over twenty-four thousand points, and even does a little bit of acting.

South Dakota – Adam Vinatieri

We can go ahead and say this will be the only NFL kicker on the list, but if anybody deserves a spot from that position, it’s Vinatieri. He’s the greatest kicker in NFL history and has the current consecutive field goal record with forty-four, which he accomplished at forty-two years.

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Adam has the most career points in NFL history (2,673), the most field goals attempted and made (715 and 599), and the most combined regular-season and postseason games played (397). He’s the only remaining active player whose career started in the nineties and is the third oldest active player ever.

Tennessee – Reggie White

The Minister of Defense is here to hunt quarterbacks and save souls. Reggie White is best-known for his unstoppable play for the Green Bay Packers, though he played for two teams before (one being the short-lived Memphis Showboats) and one team after that storied franchise.


With him on the defensive line, the Packers won a Super Bowl championship in the 1996 season. White holds the second-most sacks for a player behind Bruce Smith. His nickname comes from those sacks, as well as the fact that he was an ordained Christian minister. His number 92 jersey has been retired by three different teams.

Texas – Simone Biles

We’ve seen plenty of basketball, baseball, and football on this list, but what about gymnastics? Texas’s Simone Biles was the most decorated American gymnast ever by the time she was twenty years old – she’s the very first American gymnast to win a World medal in every event. All of them.

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Simone is a twenty-time world champ and has four Olympic gold medals. She has four different moves after her and is the third most decorated gymnast and on the international stage, like, ever.

Utah – Merlin Olsen

Merlin Olsen was magic on the defensive line. As part of the Los Angeles Rams for almost fifteen years, he made it to the Pro Bowl fourteen times! That’s a record, consecutive or otherwise, shared only with a few other players.

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Olsen made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the first chance he had. And, then, he went on to be a famous actor. Yeah, that’s right. He never really broke it big, but he had a number of roles in films and television, with his biggest role probably being Benton in “Mitchell.” It also might be his starring role in “Father Murphy.”

Vermont – Larry Gardner

Born all the way back in 1886, Larry Gardner was one of the ballplayers who changed things for everybody. He started playing with the Boston Red Sox in 1908. He’s a four-time World Series winner, playing for the Red Sox, the Philadelphia Athletics, and the Cleveland Indians.

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Gardener is in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame of 2000, and in 2012 he joined the Vermont Sports Hall of fame. He was part of the dead-ball era, so hitters had a lot more trouble than they do now, but he still had a batting average of .289. Larry also knocked twenty-seven home runs and batted in almost a thousand runs.

Virginia – Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence is one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. He’s a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the year and a two-time Super Bowl winner with the New York Football Giants.

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With the nickname L.T., he wreaked havoc through offensive lines 1981 to 1993 along with the rest of the big blue wrecking crew. Like a number of the other players on this list, he became part of the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Washington – John Stockton

There are some who – as long as they first check to see who is listening – call John Stockton the greatest assist man in NBA history. He has a total of 15,806 assists, and it’s pretty safe to say that his record isn’t in much danger.

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Stockton spent his entire career, from 1984 to 2003, as a point guard for the Utah Jazz, and the team made the playoffs in every single season. He was the nine-time assists leader, his number’s been retired by both the Jazz and the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and he made it to ten NBA All-Star games.

West Virginia – Jerry West

Jerry West not only has part of his hometown state as part of his name, but his nickname (“Zeke from the Cabin Creek”) also pays homage to his hometown. “Zeke” is the holder of the highest points per game average in a playoff series – 46.3 points per game. He was a 14-time All-Star and netted (heh) over twenty-five thousand points in his court career.

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The Los Angeles Lakers won the championship in 1972 with him, and he won the NBA Finals MVP in 1969. Jerry’s jersey number has been retired by the Lakers and the West Virginia Mountaineers, and he even received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019. Also, that silhouette on the NBA logo? That’s West.

Wisconsin – J.J Watt

There have been plenty of huge defensive names on this list, but only one has been a unanimous winner: Wisconsin’s addition to the list, J.J. Watt. He’s one of just two players who are three-times winners of the “NFL Defensive Player of the Year” award.


Watt had numerous injuries and surgeries, but he’s still the most celebrated player from Wisconsin. Recognition for his skills includes being a five-time “Sports Illustrated” Sportsman of the Year, Walter Payton, NFL Man of the Year, and so much more. He’s recently become a member of the 100 sacks club.

Wyoming – Boyd Dowler

Wyoming is a harsh place, and the athletes that came from the final state alphabetically are tough, just like Boyd Dowler. He was part of the storied Green Bay Packers when they went on a tear in the sixties, winning five championships, including the first two Super Bowls.

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As a wide receiver, Dowler recorded 474 catches, more than seven thousand yards, and forty touchdowns during his twelve years of play. He’s a member of the Packer’s Hall of Fame and the NFL’s 1960’s All-Decade Team.