Published on July 13th 2010 by Leon Shepherd

There have been a number of professional athletes who have excelled in more than one sport. These physically gifted athletes have made a name for themselves by becoming some of the best all around athletes in history. Listed below are the Top 10 Greatest Black Multi-Sport Athletes of all time.


10. Hakeem Olajuwon


Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon is a retired Nigerian American professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Prior to becoming an NBA player, Olajuwon was reputed to have been a top goalkeeping prospect in Nigeria.


9. Herschel Walker


Herschel Junior Walker is a former running back in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Giants. Walker attended and played college football at the University of Georgia, where he was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1982. Walker competed in the 1992 Winter Olympics in two-man bobsled, finishing seventh. 


8. Dave Winfield


David Mark Winfield is a former Major League Baseball player.  Over his 22-year career, he played for six teams: the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, California Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, and Cleveland Indians. In 2004, ESPN named him the third-best all-around athlete of all time in any sport. He is a member of both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the College Baseball Hall of Fame.  He earned a full baseball scholarship to the University of Minnesota in 1969, where he starred in baseball and basketball for the Golden Gophers. Following college, Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. The San Diego Padres selected him as a pitcher with the fourth overall pick in the MLB draft and both the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Utah Stars (ABA) drafted him.  And even though he never played college football, the Minnesota Vikings selected Winfield in the 17th round of the NFL draft. He is one of two players ever to be drafted by three professional sports.


7. Brian Jordan


Brian O’Neal Jordan is a retired Major League Baseball outfielder and National Football League safety. In the NFL, he played for the Atlanta Falcons, while he played in the MLB for the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers. Once he narrowed his focus to just one sport, Jordan quickly became a big-time asset to his team, batting nearly .300 and hitting an impressive 22 home runs in 1995.


6. Charlie Ward


Charlie Ward, Jr. is a three sports retired professional NBA basketball player, college football Heisman Trophy winner, and a Major League Baseball draftee. By some sports media and publications Ward has received recognition for being one of the best all-around athletes in the last quarter century. He was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame with Emmitt Smith and Bobby Bowden in 2006.


5. Bob Hayes




Robert Lee “Bullet Bob” Hayes was an Olympic sprinter turned American football wide receiver in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. An American track and field athlete, he was a two-sport stand-out in college in both track and football at Florida A&M University. Hayes was enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001 and was selected for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January 2009. He was officially inducted in Canton, Ohio on August 8, 2009. Hayes is the second Olympic gold medalist to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, after Jim Thorpe. Once considered the world’s fastest man by virtue of his multiple world records in the 60-yard, 100-yard, 220-yard, and Olympic 100-meter dashes, Hayes is the only man to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.


4. Jackie Robinson


Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. While attending UCLA, Robinson became the school’s only athlete to ever win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track.


3. Jim Brown


James Nathaniel “Jim” Brown (born February 17, 1936) is a former professional football player. He is best known for his exceptional and record-setting nine-year career as a running back for the NFL Cleveland Browns from 1957 to 1965. In 2002, he was named by The Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever. He is considered to be one of the greatest professional athletes the U.S. has ever produced. Perhaps more impressive was his success as a multi-sport athlete. In addition to his football accomplishments, he excelled in basketball, track, and especially lacrosse. As a sophomore, he was the second leading scorer for the basketball team (15 ppg), and earned a letter on the track team. His junior year, he averaged 11.3 points in basketball, and was named a second-team All-American in lacrosse. His senior year, he was named a first-team All-American in lacrosse (43 goals in 10 games to rank second in scoring nationally).


2. Deion Sanders


Deion Luwynn Sanders is a former National Football League cornerback, Major League Baseball outfielder. Sanders is considered one of the most versatile athletes in history because he played two sports at multiple positions. In the NFL he played primarily at cornerback, but also played as a wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner for the Atlanta Falcons, the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens, winning the Super Bowl with the 49ers and Cowboys. In Major League Baseball, he played for the New York Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants. In addition to being the only man to compete in both the Super Bowl and the World Series, Sanders is also the only athlete to ever hit a homerun and score a touchdown in the same week.


 1. Bo Jackson


 Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson is a retired baseball and football player. He was the first athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports, and he won the Heisman Trophy in 1985. In football, he played running back for the Los Angeles Raiders of the National Football League. In baseball, he played left field and designated hitter for the Kansas City Royals, the Chicago White Sox, and the California Angels of the American League in Major League Baseball. Jackson became known as a big time slugger in the MLB, hitting 141 home runs over his eight-year career, while at the same time rushing for over 2,000 career yards in the NFL, including a record-breaking 221 yards in a Monday Night game. He also ran a 4.12 40 yard dash, still considered the fastest 40 time at an NFL Combine.

Sports | Comments (6)

6 Responses to “Top 10 Greatest Black Multi-Sport Athletes”

  1. Shack Says:

    Nice List as usual – Believe my boy, the great Wilt Chamberlain, could be mentioned here as he was also prolific in track if I’m not mistaken!

  2. Lenora Dorsey Says:

    Awesome…I definitely did not know this about any of them. I was most surprised by Jackie Robinson. Thank you for the lesson.

  3. Trisha Says:

    Great list. Were there not some great sprinters that found there way to the NFL as wide receivers? Did Randy Moss play basketball?

  4. Leon Says:

    Good questions Trisha.
    A sprinter that I missed was Willie Gault. Gault won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears & won a gold medal in the Olympics.
    Gault would probably bump H. Olajuwon out of the top ten.

    R. Moss played basketball in high school. Since he only played one sport in college (football), I didn’t include him on the list.

  5. Shack Says:

    Then Renaldo Nehimiah needs to be considered…did he win a S.Bowl? No comment on Chamberlain

  6. Leon Says:

    Wilt was a track & field star at Kansas U., before becoming an NBA star. So he deserves top 10 status.
    The records also show that even though R. Nehemiah was an outstanding track star, he had a lackluster NFL career.