The 15 Biggest Household Names In North American Sports

The 15 Biggest Household Names In North American Sports

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning
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Whether you're a fan of sports, history, pop culture or all of the above, here are 15 names that will surely ring a bell. Some athletes have had illustrious careers while others brought shame to their name -- either way, these athletes are the biggest household names in North American sports.

15. Michael Vick

Michael Vick
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15. Michael Vick

Michael Vick
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Michael Vick quickly became one of the most popular players in the NFL with his ability to scramble and make plays on the run. Vick is a pioneer for all mobile quarterbacks, but it's not the only reason why his name is so recognizable. In 2007, He made national news for being a part of a dog fighting ring. He served his time in jail, but we'll always remember both the good and the bad of Michael Vick.

14. Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky
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14. Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky
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Whether you're a hockey fan or not, you know who Wayne Gretzky is. Nicknamed "The Great One" for a reason, Gretzky is still arguably the best hockey player to ever live. You might hear Gretzky's name in the news today, but more likely than not, it's because people are talking about his incredibly attractive daughter Paulina.

13. Shaquille O'Neal

Los Angles Lakers Shaq
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13. Shaquille O'Neal

Los Angles Lakers Shaq
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Standing in at 7-foot--1 and weighing over 320 pounds, Shaquille O'Neal brought the "big" to the term "big man". Through his size and strength, Shaq dominated opponents for over a decade, winning four championships along the way (three with the Los Angeles Lakers, one with the Miami Heat). The Big Diesel is now a TV personality for the NBA on TNT and continues to add fame to his name.

12. Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez
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12. Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez
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For the better half of his career, Alex Rodriguez was considered by many to be one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game of baseball. But A-Rod went from top of the world to rock bottom once his name became linked with PEDs. Rodriguez is currently banned from MLB and most fans hope to never see him play another game. No matter how his career ends, A-Rod's name will always be remembered.

11. Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel
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11. Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel
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Since winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012, Johnny Manziel has been the talk of the town. The man they call Johnny "Football" made his claim to fame with his ability to improvise outside of the pocket, but like Michael Vick, he has had off-field issues. Take a look at Manziel's Instagram or Twitter account and you'll see that this 21-year-old lives the life of a rockstar. Best friends with Drake? Courtside seats to see LeBron James? Yeah ... okay.

10. Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth
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10. Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth
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It's been nearly 100 years since Babe Ruth first played baseball professionally, but we still hear about the Bambino to this day. Not only was Ruth one of the greatest hitters of all time, he was a pitcher too. No matter how much time passes, Babe Ruth and the game of baseball will forever be linked.

9. O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson
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9. O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson
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Before O.J. Simpson was charged with murder, he was an incredible running back for the USC Trojans and later the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, nobody thinks about Simpson as a football player -- just the man on the defense for what many consider to be the most publicized criminal trial in American history. Whether or not you believe O.J. Simpson is guilty, everyone and their mother knows who he is.

8. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
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8. Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
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Arguably the best point guard to ever play in the NBA, Magic Johnson quickly became a name every sports fan knew. But when Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, he became more than just a sports figure. Magic was "Showtime" on the court and used the spotlight to raise awareness to something much bigger than basketball. He's now a co-owner of the Los Angles Dodgers and is still living a healthy, successful, AIDS-free life.

7. Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
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7. Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
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Born as Cassius Clay, the greatest heavyweight boxer in the world later changed his name to "Muhammad Ali" when he converted to the religion of Islam to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War. Ali was always in the news. He was a trash-talker, serving as his own hype man, but always backed it up in the ring. To this day, we remember Ali for his greatness, his energy, and his boldness in an era that frowned upon minorities being bold.

6. LeBron James

LeBron James
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6. LeBron James

LeBron James
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Many consider LeBron James to be the most polarizing figure in sports. His decision to take his talents to South Beach caused quite the commotion in the national media, but it's not the only reason we're talking about King James. Although he's only won two championship rings to this point in his career, Michael Jordan seems to be the only comparable player to James. His ability to completely take over a game is a once-a-generation kind of talent.

5. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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5. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Since entering the NBA in 1996, Kobe Bryant has been the face of the Lakers, the city of L.A., and the sport of basketball. The only thing the Black Mamba knows is winning -- anything less is an underachievement. In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault. He went from stardom in the sports world to a controversial figure in mainstream media. The charges were eventually dropped and Kobe continued growing his international brand -- his name.

4. Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson
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4. Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson
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Mike Tyson was a world-renowned boxers since the age of 20, but his name never received more headlines than it did after fighting Evander Holyfield in 1997. Tyson bit a piece of Holyfield's ear off, creating a graphic and defining scene. In addition to Holyfield's ear, Tyson has a distinctly high-pitched voice, a facial tattoo, and he appeared in "The Hangover". In other words -- if you don't know who Mike Tyson is, you're lying.

3. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning
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3. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning
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When all is said and done, Peyton Manning might be the greatest quarterback to have ever played the game of football. Manning shattered passing records in 2013, but it's not the only reason we know who this future Hall of Famer is. Manning has appeared on SNL and in commercials for MasterCard, Papa John's, Sprint and others. Needless to say, I think Manning has a career in television after his playing days are over.

2. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods
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2. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods
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Tiger Woods quickly became the face of the PGA at a young age, winning his first major at only 21 years old. Now only four majors away from tying Jack Nicklaus for the most ever, Woods is one of the best golfers to ever play the sport. In late 2009, news leaked that Tiger Woods was living a double life. Numerous accounts of infidelity forced Woods to temporarily walk away from golf, and his game and reputation haven't been the same since.

1. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
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1. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
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Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest athlete of any sport -- ever. He's a six-time NBA champion, played professional baseball and is a surprisingly good golfer. Jordan was the first professional athlete to receive a contract from Nike, and would later go on to have his own line of footwear. Ask anybody on the planet if they know who Michael Jordan is, and I can guarantee you they'll say yes.

Brandon Sandberg is a writer for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter @SandbergBrandon and add him to you network on Google.


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