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Famous Ohio Athletes

By Ohio Writer, Denise Turney

LeBron James famous ohio athletes

Ohio Athletes have taken center stage at the local, national and international levels. You might be surprised at the numbers of Ohio state athletes who have competed in the Olympics. As a former track and field runner (I ran middle distance races like the half mile and the mile), I sometimes think that making and placing at the Olympics is the toughest sports challenge facing any athlete.

Don’t think so? Try placing in the top three of local, regional and national AAUs competitions. It is not easy.

Ohio is home to some of the world’s greatest athletes

Ranker list Ohio athletes who competed in the Olympics as Edwin Moses, LeBron James, Amanda Borden, Barry Larkin, Charles Vinci, Gretchen Bleiler, Heather Mitts and Jerry Lucas. This list is not all inclusive.

Gotta mention Jesse Owens. Although Jesse Owens wasn’t born in Ohio, he claimed the state as “home”. Few Ohio athletes may have had a larger impact on the sports and social landscapes as Jesse Owens, the track and field star aptly nicknamed the Buckeye Bullet. His records stood for years. He truly was a phenomenal athlete. Did you catch the movie based on his life?

Edwin Moses famous Ohio athletes

Edwin Moses performs at the 1984 Olympics

While researching for this article, I was surprised to learn that the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, is from Ohio. Russell Wilson was born in the Queen City or Cincinnati. Other football greats who were born in Ohio include Larry Csonka and Ben Roethlisberger. You can count Ben Roethlisberger as the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Impressive.

Ohio is also the home of the first college football player to win two Heisman trophies, Archie Griffin. How I wish that his NFL career had been as illustrious as his collegiate career. Fortunately, Archie Griffin continues to serve Ohio State University. Check out his story with the OSU Alumni Association.

Time out for great Ohio coaches

I know this blog post is about Famous Ohio Athletes, but I have to mention some of the Buckeye state’s highly skilled coaches. There’s Don Shula. He coached the Miami Dolphins, the only team in the NFL that had a perfect regular season record.

And who can forget the great Woody Hayes, Paul Brown, Cliff Battles and Chuck Noll, the first NFL coach to win four Super Bowls. He did it in six seasons, winning twice against the great Tom Landry. Other great football coaches born in Ohio include Jon Gruden and Jim and John Harbaugh.

If I considered coaches who coached at Ohio State University, then went on to coach some of the nation’s best teams, we’d have Alabama’s Nick Saban, Pete Carroll and Lovie Smith. When it comes to basketball, Bobby Knight, born in Massillon, Ohio, may well be the most famous basketball coach from the Buckeye state. Yes. Ohio is known for producing great coaches.

Ohio athletes who raised the mark

Golfer, Jack Nicklaus, was born in Upper Arlington, Ohio. He is considered by many to be the world’s greatest golfer. Believe it or not, he’s on Twitter, in case you want to check him out on social media. Jack Nicklaus’ official website can be found here.

The numbers of famous Ohio athletes who played in the NBA or ABA are too many to mention. Leading the way is LeBron James. It’s good to see LeBron playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers again. They’re playing the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 as I write this blog post.

Love LeBron James’ official website. Hard to believe that he still has a Little Tikes basketball stand at his home. Whoever built LeBron James’ website loaded it with great content. Appreciate that there’s more than basketball at his website. After all, it’s never a good thing when athletes only focus on sports, as there is so much more to life.

Ready to check out other great Ohio athletes who played pro basketball? How about Stephen Curry? You may not believe this, but Stephen Curry was also born in Akron, Ohio, the same city that LeBron James was born in.

Talk about greatness is must mention for John Havlicek. Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, John Havlicek won eight NBA championships with the Boston Celtics. It’s nothing short of amazing that Havlicek won his first four NBA championships during his first four seasons with the Celtics.

Other famous Ohio athletes who played pro basketball include Earl Boykins, Barry Clemens, Antonio Daniels, Matt Harpring and Tyrone Hill. Each of these Ohio athletes had a long career in professional sports, most of them competing for more than 10 years.

In baseball, there’s the great Pete Rose. Nicknames Charlie Hustle, Pete Rose was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He played first base, outfield and infield. Pete Rose played for the Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos. But, he’s most known for playing baseball for his hometown Cincinnati Reds. His team won three World Series. Pete Rose won Most Valuable Player at the 1975 World Series.

As much as I hate saying it, it’s tough finding a host of famous Ohio athletes who are women. But, I’ll keep looking. If you come across more great women athletes who were born in Ohio, please hit me up.

Annie Oakley famous ohio athletesWomen who are famous Ohio athletes (that I learned about) are Annie Oakley (Yeah! Annie Get Your Gun Oakley), Pauline Betz (tennis), Alissa Czisny (figure skater) and Sylvia Crawley (basketball). Again, please hit me up if you learn about other women who are famous Ohio athletes. We have so much to appreciate and to be thankful for!

Thank you for reading my blog. To learn what happens to Dayton, Ohio born track and field star, Raymond Clarke, his soul mate, Brenda, and the other characters in Love Pour Over Me, hop over to, B&,, or any other online or offline bookseller and get your copy of Love Pour Over Me today. And again I say – Thank You! Consider Love.

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