Jadeveon Clowney: When it comes to the football field, Jadeveon Clowney is an absolute animal. Just take one look at the highlight reel from his bone-crushing hits during college and you’ll understand why the Houston Texans took him #1 overall in last week’s NFL Draft. The icing on the cake for Jadeveon is his recent endorsement deal with Puma where he will join fellow pro athletes such as Rickie Fowler and Usain Bolt and become the first Puma-sponsored athlete in the NFL. We expect Jadeveon will have a multitude of other opportunities now that he is officially heralded as the #1 player coming out of college this year.
Kerri Walsh Jennings: Can anyone deny the utter dominance Kerri Walsh Jennings has enjoyed in beach volleyball the last decade? Well if you think you can, she made it a little harder to argue that point after winning her 47th career FIVB World Tour tournament this weekend and setting the record for most FIVB tournament wins ever by a player in tour history. She also recently signed on as a brand ambassador for Asics joining fellow Olympian Lolo Jones on the Asics team and becoming the brand’s pioneer athlete in the sport of beach volleyball. Maintain global volleyball domination: check.
Michael Sam: It was the last round in the NFL Draft this year, but when Missouri’s Michael Sam heard his name called it might as well have been the #1 overall pick. The news comes several months since his courageous interview on ESPN’s Outside the Lines wherein he announced he was gay and received much praise and support from the public and LGBT community. Michael is now tasked with the responsibility to become a role model for others as he joins basketball players Brittany Griner and Jason Collins as the first openly gay athletes in any of America’s major professional sports. If his jersey sales are any indication (currently the #2 best-selling NFL jersey) we’re sure America is behind this sports trailblazer.
Kevin Durant: So what Kev couldn’t even rep the standard bench press weight 1 time in his NBA combine years ago, it didn’t take much strength to hold up this year’s MVP trophy. In a time when basketball has been dominated by the reign of King James, Kevin and his humble acceptance speech was the perfect example of thankfulness and humility. Many were brought to tears as he thanked each one of his teammates individually for their help in winning the award and labeled his mom “The Real MVP” for the sacrifices she made while raising him. Oklahoma City’s biggest star is quickly becoming one of the NBA’s leading men, and an incredible role model for those that look up to him.
John Wall: Do you have a song and dance named after you? What about your own show model? Such is the life of one of the NBA’s top up and coming point guards John Wall and he’s finally receiving the credit that’s due. John is part of Washington Wizards teams who stunned the top-seeded Bulls in the first round of the playoffs and have brought hope back to an organization that hadn’t seen the playoffs in an unbearable amount of time for most fans. Given his likability and charisma on and off the court, the Capitol City’s newest star could be the perfect candidate for new brand marketing campaigns.
Maria Sharapova: It’s true; Sometimes women’s sports aren’t as publicized in the media as men’s sports, but don’t tell Maria Sharapova that. The talented tennis star has enjoyed a career plentiful in on-court triumphs and off-court endorsements much like that of other popular women in sports including Michelle Kwan, Lindsey Vonn and Danica Patrick. This past weekend Maria battled for a hard fought win at the Mutua Madrid Open and reminded tennis fans just what got her to such heights in the first place. It looks like this veteran isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon!
Tim Duncan: Tim Duncan has made the playoffs in all but 1 year of his 17 year career with the San Antonio Spurs. That sounds like just another obscure sports stat until you realize he has played in more total playoff games than 13 NBA’s organizations combined. If that’s not enough he just passed Karl Malone for 5th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Yeah, that’s some good stuff there Mr. Duncan. After a crushing defeat in the Finals last year at the hands of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Heat, Timmy is determined to lead his Spurs back to the Finals of these playoffs and claim his 5th NBA championship.
Paul George: Paul George wore self-doctored jean shorts in his first ever basketball game years ago at the YMCA and his sister’s couldn’t stop cracking up. Now the only one laughing is PG after he has grown into one of the NBA’s top prospects and is going toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the best the league has to offer. He is a part of the new wave of NBA talent that includes Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving who are taking dilapidated franchises like the Pacers, Warriors, and Cavaliers and turning them into championship contenders.
Yu Darvish: Spring Training has come and gone, and the MLB is back in full swing after their scheduled winter hiatus. A recent wave of international players is descending on professional baseball and Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish is wasting no time in making his presence felt on baseball’s biggest stage. The talented righty from Japan has pitched 2 straight 1-hit ball games and is showing the kind of stuff that even “The Professor” Greg Maddux would take notes on. Yu also provides a unique marketing opportunity to the many Japanese Americans who idolize him as one of the MLB’s newest international stars.
Jeff Gordon: The stakes have changed a bit in NASCAR this season after officials changed the rules so that only drivers that have won a race during the season can make the end of the year, 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Tension was mounting in the Hendrick’s Motorsports camp as Jeff and defending champion Jimmy Johnson had yet to win a race heading into Kansas this weekend. Yet in true Jeff Gordon fashion, the vet held of Kevin Harvick on the final lap to take the checkered flag 20 years after his first win in the Sprint Cup Series. With the win he has virtually locked himself into the Chase and reminded race vans why he will go down as one of NASCAR’s greats.