Home Town Glory: Every State’s Greatest Athlete

Is there such a thing as a sports gene? Or do elite athletes become as good as they are due to the environment they grew up in? It’s a tough question. But the general agreement is yes. The state, high school, and college have a lot to do with an athlete’s skill.

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Now let’s see which state is responsible for which star athlete. Which state has the best basketball player? Or which state can confidently say they have the best figure skater? Or maybe your state is responsible for the world’s best dog sledder? Scroll down to find the answers.

Washington: John Stockton

Ten-time NBA All-Star John Stockton was born in Spokane, where he attended Gonzaga Prep and broke the city’s record for points scored in a single season. He then attended Gonzaga University and was invited as a senior to try out for the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. Despite not being elected, it was clear to everyone John was destined for greatness.

John Stockton of the Utah Jazz

John Stockton of the Utah Jazz with the ball during a National Basketball Association game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

He joined the NBA in 1984 after being selected by the Utah Jazz. And in his 19 seasons, he managed to grow his reputation as one of the 50 greatest NBA players in history. In 2009, his name was enshrined in the Hall of Fame for his individual career, and in 2010, as a member of the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.”

Alabama: Hank Aaron

Also known as “Hammering Hank,” Henry Louis Aaron was an exceptional baseball player. He was raised in Mobile in a crowded house with six siblings. A humble start of life for a man who grew up to be a huge source of pride for Alabama and baseball’s home-run king (755 home runs!).

Milwaukee Braves outfielder Hank Aaron

Milwaukee Braves outfielder Hank Aaron. Photo By Getty Images/Bettmann

Hank’s major league debut was in 1954, and in three decades, he managed to reach heights that no other player had reached before. He won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1957 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982. Athletes from all different areas widely appreciate him. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali once said, “Hank is the only man I idolize more than myself.”

South Dakota: Adam Vinatieri

Vinatieri was born in Yankton and moved to Rapid City at the age of five. He was an all-around athlete at Central High School, where he earned first-team All-State honors as a senior. He trained hard to reach the NFL and eventually signed with the Amsterdam Admirals.

Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts

Adam Vinatieri #4 of the Indianapolis Colts. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In his 24-season career, Vinatieri has played with the Colts and the New England Patriots. He’s a four-time Super Bowl winner and has the most Super Bowl wins by a kicker. In 2019, the skillful player was named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time team.

Alaska: Lance Mackey

Most states play with soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs, golf balls, etc. But Alaska? They have a unique sport of their own – Sled Dog Racing. And the winning athlete from the last frontier is none other than dog musher Lance Mackey. Raised in Fairbanks, Lance’s story is incredibly inspiring. He was diagnosed in 2001 with throat cancer, recovered, and spent the next decade breaking records.

Lance Mackey

Lance Mackey (Fairbanks, AK) listens during an interview in the Open World Championship Sled Dog Races during the Fur Rendezvous on February 28, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

He’s a four-time winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest and a four-time winner of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. He’s also the first person to win both the Iditarod and Yukon Quest races in 2007! And as if that’s not amazing enough, he won both races again in 2008.

Hawaii: Duke Paoa Kahanamoku

Legendary surfer Duke Paoa Kahanamoku grew up in Waikiki and is the man who helped popularize surfing. He moved to California in his 20s and instantly became the coolest surfer onshore. He rode monster waves and became known as the ultimate waterman.

Duke Kahanamoku

7/25/1920-Manhattan Beach, CA- Duke Kahanamoku, of Hawaii, is shown about to dive into the water during a farewell tournament at Manhattan Beach, CA. The swimming met was held before the Olympics by Olympic swimmers. Photo By Getty Images/Bettmann

But his skills extended way beyond the surfboard. Duke was a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming and was inducted into both the swimming and surfing hall of fame. He’s one of the most beloved figures in Hawaii and their most outstanding athlete.

Maryland: Michael Phelps

One of the most celebrated Olympians of all time, Michael Phelps, was born in Baltimore and began swimming at the age of seven. He stated, “The only reason I ever got in the water was my mom wanted me to just learn how to swim. My sisters and I fell in love with the sport, and we decided to swim.”

Gold medalist Michael Phelps of the United States

Gold medalist Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Men’s 200m Individual Medley Final on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

He qualified for the 2000 Summer Olympics at only 15 and finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly. But a year later, he broke the world record and became the youngest man ever to set a world record in swimming. In total, Phelps has won 28 medals during his career, 23 of them gold.

Arkansas: Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen was born in Hamburg, the youngest of 12 siblings. Despite growing up as the baby of the family, Pippen surpassed all his siblings and reached a height of 2.03 m. But height is the least impressive thing about this legendary basketball player.

Chicago Bulls' forward Scottie Pippen

Chicago Bulls’ forward Scottie Pippen. Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

He’s the only NBA player to snatch an Olympic gold medal and an NBA title in the same year, twice in both 1992 and 1996. The long-armed star became a vital member of the original “Dream Team” and the ‘90s Chicago Bulls. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.

Connecticut: Brian Leetch

Yes, we do know that Leetch was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, but his family moved to Cheshire, Connecticut, where he was raised, when he was three months old, so we decided to placed him here. One of the top men in NHL history, Brian Leetch, began his career skating around a local ice rink with his dad in Connecticut. He then attended Avon Old Farms School, where he amazed scouts and was chosen by the New York Rangers, becoming the first player drafted who didn’t play major junior hockey.

Brian Leetch #2 of the New York Rangers

Brian Leetch #2 of the New York Rangers watches the play from the bench against the Boston Bruins at the Fleet Center. Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

He’s an 11-time All-Star who has recorded more than 100 points in one season and accumulated more than 1,000 points in total. This elite defenseman is considered one of the best athletes to have entered the ice rink, and in 2009, almost 20 years after he began his career, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Delaware: Elena Delle Donne

It took a long time for this Wilmington-born girl to come to terms with her height. At 6’5″, Elena hated standing out. Her family doctor even suggested stunting her growth with injections! But her mom said, heck no! She told her daughter, “Why try to be like the rest of the pack? Be your own person.”

Elena Delle Donne #11 of the Chicago Sky

Elena Delle Donne #11 of the Chicago Sky. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Good thing Elena took her advice. She’s been an All-Star in six of her seven seasons and was named the 2015 WNBA Most Valuable Player. Her agility and sharp court awareness have made her one of the most dominant players in the league.

Florida: Deion Sanders

Also known as “Prime Time,” Deion Sanders was born in Fort Myers, where he attended high school and became an All-State honoree in football, basketball, and baseball. The Falcons drafted the dynamic NFL player in 1989, and at the same time, he played basketball with the New York Yankees.

 Deion Sanders #37 of the Baltimore Ravens.

Deion Sanders #37 of the Baltimore Ravens. Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

On the football field, Sanders dominated and became a two-time Super Bowl Champion and eight-time Pro Bowler. But Prime Time was as good on the baseball field. He’s the only player to hit a home run and score an NFL touchdown in the same week!

Pennsylvania: Dan Marino

Former NFL player Dan Marino is considered one of the greatest players in history (despite never winning a Super Bowl!). He was born in Pittsburgh and grew up on Parkview Avenue, where he dedicated his time to both baseball and football.

Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino

Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino looks on before a NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Sun Life Stadium on September 27, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Florida. Photo by Ron Elkman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

He was drafted by the Royals in the 1979 MLB Draft but decided to play football instead. He attended the University of Pittsburgh on a scholarship and led his team to victory multiple times. He was then drafted by the Dolphins in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft and became one of their star players. He retired in 1999 and became a proud Hall of Famer in 2005.

Georgia: Ty Cobb

MLB outfielder Ty Cobb, also known as “the Georgia Peach,” was born in Narrows, a small rural community of unincorporated farmers. Baseball was love at first sight for the young boy, and he began trying out for teams despite his parents’ disapproval. We’re glad he did. Ty Cobb proved everyone wrong.

1921-Ty Cobb.

1921-Ty Cobb. Photo By Getty Images/Bettmann

He’s a 12-time batting champion and still holds the record for the most combined runs scored and runs batted in, with a total of 4,065. His aggressive base running style and fierce determination earn him a place on this list.

Minnesota: Bronko Nagurski

Football legend Bronko Nagurski was actually born in Canada but moved to Minnesota as a young kid. He excelled in basketball and football in high school but eventually dedicated himself to football when he attended the University of Minnesota on a scholarship in 1927.

University of Minnesota football Bronko Nagurski

University of Minnesota football Bronko Nagurski. Photo by Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images

Three years later, Bronko signed with the Bears and played seven seasons before retiring in 1937. An all-around athlete, Bronko went on to becoming a professional wrestler and won his first world title in 1939. This multiple World Heavyweight Champion and football icon is definitely the star of Minnesota.

Idaho: Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew, also known as “Hammerin’ Harmon,” was raised in Payette and played baseball at Walter Johnson Memorial Field. He was only 17 years old when he broke into the big leagues in 1954 and hit his first major league run a year later, five days before his 19th birthday.

Portrait of American baseball player Harmon Killebrew

Portrait of American baseball player Harmon Killebrew (1936 – 2011), of the Minnesota Twins, as he poses with his bat outstretched, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1959. Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

During his 22-year career in Major League Baseball, Killebrew made a reputation for himself as “one of the finest individuals in the major leagues.” In 1969, he was titled American League’s Most Valuable Player. And was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.

Illinois: Dick Butkus

Born and raised in Chicago, Butkus played his entire football career in his home state. Like many athletes, Butkus shined in high school and went on to play football at the University of Illinois, where he played center and linebacker for the Illinois Fighting Illini football team.

Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus

Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus sports a rather fierce-looking mustache during workouts at Soldier Field 10/27.

He was drafted to the NFL by his hometown Bears in 1965 and became their shining star. Shining and most aggressive star that is. Deacon Jones described him as “a maniac. A stone maniac. He was a well-conditioned animal, and every time he hit you, he tried to put you in the cemetery, not the hospital.”

Wisconsin: Eric Heiden

Madison is home to one of the greatest speed skaters in the world. Eric Heiden is a record-setting, Olympic Gold medal-winning legend. He won five medals at the 1980 Olympic Games and has broken over six world records.

America's Eric Heiden drives to a new Olympic record

America’s Eric Heiden drives to a new Olympic record and a gold medal in the men’s 500-meter speedskating sprints 2/15.

He’s the only speed skater who ranked ESPN’s 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century and won seven World Championships in his career. It’s pretty clear why Eric deserves to be Wisconsin’s star athlete. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.

Iowa: Dan Gable

Wrestling icon Dan Gable was born in Waterloo and stood out in his hometown Waterloo West High School as one fierce fighter. He then attended Iowa State University, where he competed in folkstyle wrestling and sharpened his skills even more.

Dan Gable

Dan Gable acknowledges the crowd after being introduced as part of the 1972 Olympic team during the finals of the US Wrestling Olympic Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on April 21, 2012, in Iowa City, Iowa. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

After college, Dan competed internationally between the years 1971-1973. He earned gold medals, won the World Championship, and won all six matches at the 1972 Olympic Games. In 1999, HBO released a documentary about his remarkable life named “Freestyles: The Victories of Dan Gable.”

Kansas: Barry Sanders

Born and raised in Wichita, Barry Sanders was overlooked by most college recruiters at first. He managed to get a scholarship from Oklahoma State University, where he played for the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 1986 to 1988.

Barry Sanders #20 of the Detroit Lions carries the ball

Barry Sanders #20 of the Detroit Lions carries the ball. Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images

Considered one of the most electrifying runners, Sanders was drafted in the first round by the Lions in the 1989 NFL draft. His 10-year career proved to be steady, and he was named to the Pro Bowl every year. NFL.com has rated him the 17th best player of all time.

Arizona: Kerri Strug

Athletes have a lot to learn from Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Kerri Strug. Born in Tucson in 1977, this determined star began training in gymnastics at the age of three! Which is crazy. I mean, half of us still struggled to stand up straight at that age.

Photo by Doug Pensinger / Getty Images

She began competing at the age of eight, and a decade later, in 1996, she headed to the Olympics and made history. Despite tearing two ligaments in her ankle, Strug limped her way onto the platform once again and performed a second vault, scoring high enough and guaranteeing gold for the team.

Kentucky: Muhammad Ali

Considered the “Greatest of All Time,” Muhammad Ali was born in Louisville as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. He began training at the young age of 12 and earned several amateur titles before winning his first gold medal at the age of 18 in the 1960 Olympics.

American boxer Muhammad Ali

American boxer Muhammad Ali, dressed in a t-shirt, trains with a speed bag, the early 1960s. Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images

His smart footwork and incredible punches inspired many athletes to get into the sport, but his bold personality inspired everyone, regardless of whether they were interested in boxing. He’s considered one of the greatest boxers of all time and one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.

Louisiana: Peyton Manning

Born and raised in New Orleans, Peyton Manning was selected No. 11 by the Colts in the 1998 NFL draft. During his 18 strong seasons, he won two Super Bowls, one with the Colts and one with the Broncos. He’s considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and definitely deserves a spot on this list.

Quarterback Peyton Manning

Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts passes against the Buffalo Bills during a game at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 1, 2000, in Orchard Park, New York. The Colts defeated the Bills 18-16. Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Peyton holds numerous NFL records, including Most Valuable Player Awards, and holds (tied with Sammy Baugh) the most first-team All-Pro selections for a quarterback. This iconic figure once said: “The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.”

Maine: Ian Crocker

Competitive swimmer and five-time Olympic medalist Ian Crocker was born in Portland in 1982. He won his first Olympic gold medal at the young age of 17 and was the first man to swim under 51 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly before Michael Phelps set a new record.

Ian Crocker of the USA Swim Team

Ian Crocker of the USA swims to exit the pool after setting a new world record to win the gold medal in the Men’s 100m Butterfly Final during the 10th Fina World Swimming Championships 2003 at Palau Sant Jordi July 26, 2003, in Barcelona, Spain. Crocker finished first with a time of 50.98. Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Crocker specializes in butterfly and has made Maine proud with his remarkable skills. He stumbled a bit in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and took a break from the sport right after. He used his break as an opportunity to start a swim school with former teammate Neil Walker.

Massachusetts: Rocky Marciano

Born in Brockton in 1923, boxer Rocky Marciano grew up playing both baseball and football in high school before dropping out in the tenth grade. He spent the next years working at random jobs until he was drafted into the army in 1943. Two years later, he began fighting permanently as a professional boxer.

Photo by Bettmann / Getty Images

While his fighting style wasn’t as refined as other boxers, people appreciated this fierce boxer for his relentless punches and high stamina. He was the World Heavyweight Champion from 1952-1956 and retired as the only title holder to go undefeated.

Michigan: Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Born as Earvin Johnson in Lansing, Michigan, this basketball prodigy was dubbed “Magic” when he was still in high school. At only 15, he recorded a triple-double of 36 points, 18 rebounds, and 16 assists. Sports scouts aggressively pursued the young talent, but he stayed loyal to his hometown and attended Michigan State in 1977.

A portrait shows Los Angeles Lakers' center Earvin

A portrait shows Los Angeles Lakers’ center Earvin “Magic” Johnson #32 during a game. Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

He was drafted No. 1 overall by the Lakers in the 1979 NBA draft and became one of the greatest point guards of all-time. He was a member of five championship teams and won the MVP and the Finals MVP award three times each.

North Dakota: Roger Maris

Maris was born in Minnesota but moved to Fargo, North Dakota when he was four. Despite becoming an incredible baseball player, Roger excelled in football as a teenager (he still holds his high school’s official record for most return touchdowns in a game!).

Roger Maris Standing in the Batting Circle

Roger Maris Standing in the Batting Circle. Photo By Getty Images/ Bettmann / Contributor

He attended university on a football scholarship but dropped out to join the minor league, where he was named rookie of the year. He went on to the Major Leagues and played with the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees, and the Cardinals. He won three World Series before finally retiring in 1967.

Mississippi: Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice was born in Starkville and raised in the small town of Crawford. He stood out at Mississippi Valley State, where he played for four years and amazed his teammates. He was nicknamed “world” because of “his ability to catch anything near him.”

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice (80) lines up during a 20-13 victory over the Detroit Lions on October 2, 1988, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Photo by Dan Honda/Getty Images

He was drafted by the 49ers in 1984 and had a prosperous career in the NFL. He has scored the most touchdowns in NFL history (208!) and has been rated the No.1 player of all-time by NFL.com. If there’s anyone who deserves to represent Mississippi as an athlete of the state, it’s him.

Missouri: Cal Hubbard

He’s considered one of the most intimidating football players of all time. With his huge size and lightning speed agility, Cal Hubbard shined on the field. But football wasn’t his only area of expertise! He stood out on the basketball court, too, and is the only person to be inducted in both the Football and Basketball Hall of Fame.

Green Bay Packers football champion, Cal Hubbard, in an offensive line stance.

Green Bay Packers football champion, Cal Hubbard, in an offensive line stance. Photo By Getty Images/ Bettmann

A small-town boy from Keytesville, Hubbard joined the NFL in 1927, signing with the New York Giants and helping them reach great heights. He then moved on to the Packers and won the NFL title in each of his first three years with the team. American football player Mel Hein claimed Hubbard was “the greatest tackle player I ever played against.”

Montana: Phil Jackson

An incredible player and an outstanding coach, Phil Jackson, deserves to be Montana’s star athlete. Born in the beautiful city of Deer Lodge, Phil played basketball all through high school and was recruited to play for the University of North Dakota in 1964.

Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers

Head coach Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2002 NBA Playoffs against the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California on May 18, 2002. The Lakers won 106-99. Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Knicks drafted Jackson in the second round (No. 17 overall) of the 1967 NBA Draft. He played 12 seasons in the NBA, winning two championships (1970 and 1973). As a coach, Jackson was given the nickname “Zen Master” for his holistic approach and wise decisions. He was named one of the greatest coaches in league history.

Nebraska: Bob Gibson

Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Gibson was born in Omaha in 1935. A star athlete in high school, Gibson played basketball, baseball and ran track. Eventually, he attended Creighton University on a full basketball scholarship, but his love of baseball remained stronger than ever.

Bob Gibson Pitching Ball

Bob Gibson Pitching Ball. Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

After graduation, Gibson played basketball for a year with the Harlem Globetrotters but moved on to baseball when he signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won two World Series Championships, nine Gold Glove Awards, and was named an All-Star nine times before finally retiring in 1975.

Nevada: Andre Agassi

Olympic Gold medalist Andre Agassi was born in Las Vegas in 1970. At the age of 13, he was sent to a Tennis Academy in Florida, where he was supposed to spend only three months because that’s all his dad could afford. After seeing Agassi’s incredible skills, his coach told his dad, “Keep the check. He’s here for free.”

Andre Agassi of the USA holds up the trophy after defeating Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine to win the men's singles final of the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France.

Andre Agassi of the USA holds up the trophy after defeating Andrei Medvedev of Ukraine to win the men’s singles final of the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. Photo By Getty Images/Al Bello

He turned pro at the age of 16, and throughout his impressive career, he won nine Grand Slam titles and an Olympic Gold. He was ranked No. 1 player in the world in 1995, and when asked how he felt, he said, “I think No. 1 is a by-product of continuing this kind of intensity, focus, and concentration.” We agree.

New Hampshire: Bode Miller

With 33 World Cup Championships and five Olympic medals, is it really any wonder Bode Miller is the star athlete of New Hampshire? The former World Cup ski racer was born in Easton and grew up near New Hampshire’s White Mountains, in a log cabin with no electricity!

Bode Miller of the USA in action

Bode Miller of the USA in action before missing a gate during the first run of the Alpine Skiing Men’s Giant Slalom on day 12 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Whistler Creekside on February 23, 2010, in Whistler, Canada. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

He attended the Carrabassett Valley Academy (a ski academy in Maine) on a scholarship and broke into the public’s awareness after winning two silver medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. With his bold personality and reckless style, Bode is considered one of the best men skiers in the world.

New Jersey: Dennis Rodman

Also known as “The Worm,” Dennis was born in Trenton, New Jersey. He was raised by his mom, who worked many jobs to support the family. Surprisingly, in high school, Rodman wasn’t considered any good at basketball. He was on the team but was usually benched and watched as his friends took the lead.

Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls

Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on May 13, 1997, at The Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

A sudden growth spurt from 5 ft. 11 to 6 ft. 7 led him to try and go pro, and the Detroit Pistons eventually drafted him in the 1986 NBA draft. He’s considered the “best rebounding forward in NBA history” and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.

New Mexico: Ronnie Lott

One of the best players in NFL history, Ronnie Lott was a first-round pick in the 1981 NFL Draft and played for the 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Jets, and Kansas City Chiefs. Born in Albuquerque, this Hall of Famer has reached great heights in his career but suffered a lot of injuries along the way.

Safety Ronnie Lott #42 of the San Francisco 49ers

Safety Ronnie Lott #42 of the San Francisco 49ers on the sideline against the New York Giants in the 1990 NFC Championship Game on January 20, 1991, at 3Com Park in San Francisco, California. The Giants defeated the 49ers 15-13. Photo by Dan Honda via Getty Images

He once told Sports Illustrated, “People are always asking where I’ll be 10 years from now if I’ll be able to walk.” But despite the physical setbacks, Ronnie played 14 seasons, made 10 Pro Bowler appearances, and was named to the NFL’s 1980s and 1990s All-Decade teams.

Wyoming: Boyd Dowler

Former NFL player Boyd Dowler was born in Rock Springs but grew up in Cheyenne. He played college football at the University of Colorado and was the 25th overall pick in the 1959 NFL Draft. The talented player won rookie of the year and went on to become one of the most appreciated receivers in NFL history.

Wide receiver Boyd Dowler

Wide receiver Boyd Dowler #86 of the Green Bay Packers walks through the bench area during Super Bowl II on January 14, 1968, against the Oakland Raiders at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. The Packers beat the Raiders, 33-14. Photo By Getty Images/Diamond Images

Over his 12-year career, Boyd managed to win five NFL titles, including Super Bowls I and II, and earned All-Pro honors in 1962 and 1967. He was inducted into the Packers’ Hall of Fame in 1978. Today he works as a scout for the Atlanta Falcons.

New York: Michael Jordan

You don’t need to like basketball to know who Michael Jordan is. He’s legendary and is universally considered the greatest basketball player of all time. Born in Brooklyn, Jordan grew up playing basketball, baseball, and football. As a kid, he was too short for the varsity basketball team, but he never gave up hope.

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan

Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan soars for the dunk as Utah Jazz Karl Malone watches in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on June 8, 1997, at Delta Center in Salt Lake City. Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images/Sporting News

He trained vigorously, and his dedication paid off. He was selected by the Chicago Bulls in 1984 and won six championships with them. This Hall of Famer is considered a global cultural icon who helped popularize the sport around the world in the ‘80s and ‘90s. There’s no denying he deserves this spot on the list.

Idaho: Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew, also known as “Hammerin’ Harmon,” was raised in Payette and played baseball at Walter Johnson Memorial Field. He was only 17 years old when he broke into the big leagues in 1954 and hit his first major league run a year later, five days before his 19th birthday.

Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins

Harmon Killebrew of the Minnesota Twins circa 1962 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

During his 22-year career in Major League Baseball, Killebrew made a reputation for himself as “one of the finest individuals in the major leagues.” In 1969, he was titled American League’s Most Valuable Player. And was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.

Ohio: LeBron James

Born and raised in Akron, the “Akron Hammer” was a natural athlete growing up and dropped out of college to pursue his NBA dreams. He’s a huge source of pride for Ohio and is often compared to Michael Jordan in debates over who’s the greater basketball player.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against the Atlanta Hawks

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against the Atlanta Hawks in the first half at State Farm Arena on December 15, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

His NBA career began in 2003, after he was chosen No. 1 overall by the Cavaliers. He holds the record for all-time playoff points and has won two Olympic Gold Medals. This legend has so many other accomplishments worth noting, but let’s conclude it with Isaiah Thomas’s praise: “LeBron James is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen as a basketball player.”

Indiana: Larry Bird

Another great member of the “Dream Team,” Larry Bird, grew up in the town of French Lick. This legendary basketball player came from truly humble beginnings. His mom worked two jobs to keep the family afloat, and Bird once confessed that growing up poor motivates him to this day.

Larry Bird #33 of the Boston Celtics

Larry Bird #33 of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Finals June 1987 at The Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Lakers won the finals 4 games to 2. Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

He used basketball as a way of escaping his family’s financial worries. But what began as a form of escapism turned into his life’s calling. Since his draft to the Celtics in 1978, he’s reached numerous heights in his career and is the only person in NBA history to be named Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, NBA Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.

Oklahoma: Mickey Mantle

Hall of Famer “The Mick” was born in Spavinaw and named Mickey in honor of baseball player Mickey Cochrane. At the age of four, he moved to Commerce and became an all-around athlete at Commerce High School. He was offered a football scholarship, but he parted ways with the sport after suffering a serious injury to his left shin during a game.

New York Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle

New York Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle holds a baseball marked ‘1000’ to indicate that he got his 1000th hit during the 8th inning of the game with the Washington Senators here tonight. Photo By Getty Images/Bettmann

He stuck to baseball and played in the minors for two years before joining the New York Yankees in 1951. In his 17-year career, Mantle won seven World Series Championships, a Gold Glove, and was named to 20 All-Star games. Baseball player Whitey Ford called him “a superstar who never acted like one.”

Colorado: Jack Dempsey

Born in 1985 in Manassa, William Harrison Dempsey grew up to become the iconic boxer, Jack Dempsey, also known as the “Manassa Mauler.” He quit school at the age of 12 and fought his way to stardom. From small battles and little money, Dempsey climbed his way to superstardom and fat checks.

Jack Dempsey trains for his first fight against Gene Tunney

Jack Dempsey trains for his first fight against Gene Tunney in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Photo by The Ring Magazine via Getty Images

He reigned as the Heavyweight Champion from 1919-1926 and is considered one of the greatest punchers of all time. He took part in the first boxing fight to ever produce $1 million in revenue, where he battled and knocked down Georges Carpentier.

North Carolina: Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Raised in the Charlotte suburb of Kannapolis, Dale was born to a family of racecar drivers. His dad was one of the best short-track drivers at the time, and even though he didn’t want Dale to follow in his footsteps, his stubborn kid dropped out of school and did just that.

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. sits in his race car

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr. sits in his race car while it is repaired after an accident during the 1981 Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1981, at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo by Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images

He debuted in 1975 at the Winston Cup, and in his 22 seasons, he managed to win 7 Winston cups and make more money than any other driver in NASCAR history. Tragically, he crashed his car at the Daytona 500 in 2001, and his death was announced a few hours later.

Oregon: Dale Murphy

Two-time MVP, Seven-time All-Star, Five-time Gold Glove winner – Dale Murphy is the right pick to represent Oregon. During his 18-year career in the Major Leagues, he played with the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Colorado Rockies.

Dale Murphy #3 of the Atlanta Braves

Dale Murphy #3 of the Atlanta Braves smiles for the camera in this portrait during photo day in spring training circa 1978. Murphy played for the Braves from 1976-90. Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Marvelous Murphy finished his career with 398 home runs and is one of only four outfielders in history with consecutive MVP years (1982 and 1983). He’s a member of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

South Carolina: Joe Frazier

Professional boxer Joe Fraizer was born in Beaufort and grew up on a farm. When his dad got the family a black and white television, he became hooked on boxing and made sure to watch whatever match premiered. The little farmer had big dreams of making it in the ring.

Joe Frazier trains with the punching bag

Joe Frazier trains with the punching bag in a gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by The Ring Magazine via Getty Images

He became one of the greatest heavyweight boxers in the U.S. and even beat Muhammad Ali in the fight of the century in 1971. He won an Olympic Gold Medal in 1964 and was enshrined in the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.

Tennessee: Reggie White

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Reggie White went on to play football at Oklahoma State University, where he scored four touchdowns in his senior year. Everyone knew how outstanding Reggie was as a player, and his draft to the NFL in 2001 was no surprise.

Defensive lineman Reggie White #92 of the Philadelphia Eagles

Defensive lineman Reggie White #92 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on from the sideline during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Municipal Stadium on October 16, 1988, in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Eagles 19-3. Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

He was a member of several teams in his career, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times, named top defensive player in 1997, and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. Sadly, Reggie passed away two years before in 2004 due to cardiac arrhythmia.

Texas: “Mean” Joe Greene

Defensive tackle “Mean” Greene grew up in Temple, where he played football at Dunbar High School. Surprisingly, he didn’t immediately impress college recruiters, and options were pretty limited. But he was eventually offered a scholarship to play ball at North Texas State University.

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle 'Mean Joe' Greene

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle ‘Mean Joe’ Greene #75 lines up for the next play. Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Greene in the 1969 NFL draft, and the choice didn’t excite fans that much. But Mean Greene proved them all wrong. He went on to become one of the most dominant defensive players in NFL history and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.

California: Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods isn’t the most lovable person on this list, but then again, this isn’t a matter of whether you like him or not, it’s a matter of how good he is. And Tiger Woods is more than good. He grew up in Orange County and was introduced to golfing before the age of two (when most of us were still struggling to fit blocks in the right shape).

Tiger Woods of the United States

Tiger Woods of the United States celebrates after making a putt for birdie on the 15th green during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Since going pro in 1996, Woods has reached absolute greatness in the field of golf. He’s won five Masters Tournaments, four PGA Championships, three U.S. Open Championships, and three British Open Championships. In 2021, he’ll finally be inducted into golf’s Hall of Fame.

Utah: Steve Young

Three-time Super Bowl winner Steve Young was born in Salt Lake City and played quarterback in high school. Despite being heavily sought after by the University of North Carolina, Young decided to play college ball at Brigham Young University instead.

Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers during the National Football Conference West game against the St. Louis Rams on 26 November 1995 at 3Com Park, San Francisco, California, United States. The 49ers won the game 41 – 13. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Express drafted him in the first round of the 1984 USFL Draft and later bought out his contract to join the NFL. He’s considered “one of the most accurate quarterbacks in NFL history” and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Rhode Island: Nap Lajoie

Also known as “The Frenchman,” Lajoie grew up in Woonsocket, where word of his incredible baseball skills quickly spread across town. He played in the minors for a while before being scouted by the Phillies. It was a great choice, and Lajoie stunned everyone in the MLB with his incredible hits.

Nap Lajoie, Major League Baseball Player

Nap Lajoie, Major League Baseball Player, Portrait, Cleveland Naps, Harris & Ewing, 1913. Photo by: GHI/Universal History Archive via Getty Images

In his 13 year career, The Frenchman led the league in runs, doubles, hits, and total bases. He won the AL triple crown in 1901 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937. To this day, no-hitter has topped Lajoie’s .426 average.

Vermont: Carlton Fisk

Also known as “The Commander” or “Pudge,” Carlton was born in Bellow Falls but grew up in Charlestown. He was an all-around athlete who enjoyed basketball just as much as he did baseball. He joined the Major League in 1972 and snatched the Rookie of the Year Award.

Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox

Carlton Fisk of the Boston Red Sox poses for a circa 1970s photo. Fisk played for the Red Sox from 1969-80. Photo by MLB via Getty Images

Pudge stunned the world with his durability and skills. He’s an 11-time All-Star team member with three Silver Slugger Awards. Clearly, he deserves to represent Vermont on this list. At the time of his retirement, he held the record for most home runs by a catcher (351).

Virginia: Lawrence Taylor

The Legendary Lawrence Taylor was born in Williamsburg. He was described by his mother as a challenging, stubborn little kid. But his fiery character is exactly what made him such a great player. His college coach called him “reckless, just reckless.”

Lawrence Taylor #56 of the New York Giants

Lawrence Taylor #56 of the New York Giants in action against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL football game on September 30, 1990, at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Taylor played for the Giants from 1981-93. Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

He was drafted by the Giants in 1981 and won two Super Bowls over his 12-year career. He was named one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history and a larger-than-life character both on and off the field (although he had some setbacks in his personal life…).

West Virginia: Randy Moss

Born and raised in Rand, former NFL player Randy Moss was an all-around athlete who excelled in football, basketball, and track. He was named one of the 50 greatest high school football players of all time! His legacy continued in college, after which the Minnesota Vikings took him in the 1998 NFL Draft.

Randy Moss #81 of the New England Patriots

Randy Moss #81 of the New England Patriots looks on against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on October 4, 2009, in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images

In his 13-year career, he made the Pro Bowl 7 times, won the Pro Bowl MVP award, and was selected five times as an All-Pro. He broke numerous records, including most touchdown receptions in a season and the fastest player to reach 5,000 career receiving yards.