The 15 Most Influential Sports Figures

The 15 Most Influencial Sports Figures

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When it comes to the world of sports, influence plays a very important role in what you contribute to the masses. Whether you are loved, hated or respected, most sports personalities have the power to change the way we view life as we know it. Take a look at 15 of the most influential sports figures to ever hit the sports universe.

15. David Beckham

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15. David Beckham

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David Beckham is considered by many to not only be one of the greatest soccer players to ever play the game, but also an ambassador for the sport. He's become one of the most recognized faces in the world and continues to make headlines with his ongoing promotion of soccer worldwide.

14. Michael Phelps

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14. Michael Phelps

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When you have a record of 18 career gold medals in the Olympics, you know you're the real deal. Case in point with Michael Phelps who has helped make professional swimming into a sport fans all over the world can appreciate. He's extremely influential since he just came out of retirement and will once again take the world by storm.

13. Shaun White

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13. Shaun White

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Action sports wouldn't be where it is today without Shaun White. He's not only become an Olympic hero, but his name is now highly influential when it comes to video games, clothes and professional skateboarding/snowboarding equipment.

12. Tiger Woods

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12. Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods is quite easily one of the most popular and influential sports figure in the world. He's made professional golf much more popular and helped usher in a new era of dominance. He also still has plenty of years left to continue adding more titles to his impressive career so far.

11. Magic Johnson

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11. Magic Johnson

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Magic Johnson was a legend on the court with the Los Angeles Lakers and made an even bigger name for himself long after he retired. He not only was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he was also making a name for himself as a great analyst for ESPN. The icing on the cake so far in his life has been his decision to be a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thanks to his direction, the Dodgers have been playing very good the past few years.

10. Pat Riley

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10. Pat Riley

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Pat Riley lives, breathes and loves professional basketball. He's played in the NBA, coached and now is the president of the Miami Heat. He was the main orchestrator in acquiring the "Big 3" for the Heat which has paid off tremendously.

9. Kobe Bryant

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9. Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant picked up exactly where Michael Jordan left off. His tremendous athletic skill as well as ability to carry a team on his back shows just how influential Bryant is to the NBA. He's a guaranteed Hall of Famer, and what's crazy is he still has a few years left in him to continue playing.

8. Phil Mickelson

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8. Phil Mickelson

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Phil Mickelson is a beloved figure and holds much influence on the sport of professional golf. Using his connection to his fans and the fact that he's a five-time major champion, Mickelson continues to make sure people give back to their communities and donate to charities. Both of which he does frequently.

7. Jerry Jones

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7. Jerry Jones

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Jerry Jones is the owner of the No. 1 biggest franchise in the entire NFL. It's not easy running the Dallas Cowboys, but Jones does it in stride and will always do what he feels is right for his beloved franchise. Especially since the Cowboys are worth over $1 billion worldwide.

6. Michael Jordan

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6. Michael Jordan

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When one thinks about the greatest athlete of all time to play in the NBA, only one name really comes up. Michael Jordan is the true definition of the NBA and it shows in his legendary Hall of Fame career. Jordan has influenced millions around the world with his sneakers, exclusive Nike line of clothes and of course the way he saved the world with Bugs Bunny in "Space Jam".

5. Tim Tebow

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5. Tim Tebow

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Tim Tebow, despite not having any major NFL success, is one of the most influential athletes to hit the sports world. He has an occult like following to the point where a few years ago, "Tebowing" was a worldwide phenomenon. Fans love him and will always root for him no matter where he is.

4. Peyton Manning

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4. Peyton Manning

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Peyton Manning will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play professional football. He's a sure Hall of Famer and has influenced the game with his audibles, precision passing and the way he has been breaking records all over the NFL. He's also turned around not one but two franchises into championship contenders in the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.

3. LeBron James

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3. LeBron James

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Only an athlete who can have his own primetime special to announce his "decision" on which team he plans to play for can have such an influence over a sport. It doesn't get any bigger than LeBron James since he's considered the "king" by many analysts. He did what was best for his career and took his talents to Miami to bring the Heat two NBA titles so far.

2. Derek Jeter

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2. Derek Jeter

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Five World Series rings, over 3,000 hits and considered by many to be one of the greatest Yankees to ever play in New York, Derek Jeter has had major influence over the sport and world for almost two decades. Kids all over the world want to be like him and live up to his iconic status. Jeter lived up to being one of the best captains to ever play in pinstripes, and once he's retired for good, one only knows what his future endeavors hold.

1. Roger Goodell

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1. Roger Goodell

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The NFL is worth over $40 billion, and it's mostly due to efficiently it's been running thanks to commissioner Roger Goodell. Faced with everything from player safety, salary caps and whether to expand the NFL more into overseas ventures, Goodell has done a terrific job running the NFL right into superiority. Many consider the NFL to be the best sports league in the world and rightfully so.

Luis Tirado Jr. is a New York Jets writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google


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