What Happened To These Legendary Athletes

“They came, they saw, and they conquered” is something often said about the most incredible sportsmen and sportswomen out there. But, who are truly the biggest legends of them all? Let’s have a look at some of the most memorable sportspeople that ever walked this Earth, what they did to achieve that title, and where they are now!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Mark Sandten / Bongarts / Julian Finney / Photo12 / Universal Images Group | Michael Schumacher, Serena Williams, Pelé


MICHAEL PHELPS (SWIMMING)

The American swimmer who made himself a legend, Michael Phelps, has won the most Olympic medals ever. With a total of 28 medals, of which 23 gold medals and 13 individual golds, Phelps took his first steps in the Olympics at the tender age of 15 years old. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Shaun Botterill | Michael Phelps of USA looks on after winning the Men's 200m Butterfly Semifinal during the 10th Fina World Swimming Championships 2003.

At the age of 28, Phelps became the oldest individual gold medalist in the history of swimming in the Olympics. Michael Phelps retired at the age of 31, after the 2016 Summer Olympics, saying that "I'm ready to retire. I'm happy about it. I'm in a better state of mind this time than I was four years ago."

Image Credits: Getty Images / Joe Scarnici | US Olympian Michael Phelps poses at the event to announce the Founding Partnership between Delta Air Lines and LA28.


FLORENCE GRIFFITH JOYNER (TRACK AND FIELD)

Holding world records in the 100- and 200-meter events, Florence Joyner is an Olympic gold medalist. Since 1988, her records are still to be beaten, and she is still remembered as the fastest woman to ever compete. After her retirement, Florence continued to be involved in athletics as a co-chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Aaron Rapoport / Corbis | Florence Griffith Joyner poses for a portrait.

She was inducted to the Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1995, and while she wanted to return to the Olympics shortly after, her physical health did not allow for that. Sadly, Joyner passed away unexpectedly in September 1998, being only 38 years old at the time, she is survived by her husband and daughter. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / NBCU Photo Bank | Gold Medal winner, American Florence Griffith-Joyner, Number 569, on the field during the Games of the XXIV Olympiad in Seoul, South Korea.


USAIN BOLT (SPRINT)

Widely considered the best sprinter of all time, Usain Bolt achieved the gold in 100- and 200-meter races in three consecutive Olympic Games. Bolt was once again labeled as the best sprinter in history after his incredible performance at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Giuliano Bevilacqua / Corbis | Usain BOLT of Jamaica in the 100 m.

After the world championships in 2017, Usain Bolt retired from athletics. While his performance at this competition was not his best, many have dedicated his decaying results to his physical health, as he had suffered from an injury in his hamstring. Bolt has released a memoir book titled “The Fastest Man Alive: The True Story of Usain Bolt” in 2012.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kyodo News | World record sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.


SERENA WILLIAMS (TENNIS)

An inspiration to young girls across the world, Serena Williams is currently one of the best tennis players in the world. Having revolutionized women’s tennis, Williams has won the record of 23 titles on Grand Slam singles. Williams’ career slowed down between 2016 and 2018, due to personal reasons.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Professional Sport / Popperfoto | Serena Williams of the USA poses with the trophy after defeating her sister Venus Williams (not in picture) in the Women's Final of the Compaq Grand Slam Cup tennis tournament at the Olympiahalle in Munich, Germany circa September, 1991.

She has since then been trying to get back to the top of the ranking, having risen from #22 in 2017 to #10 in 2020. Being idolized as one of the strongest women tennis players in the world, Serena Williams has been working with her sponsors to motivate young girls to pursue their dreams in sports.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Stephane Cardinale - Corbis / Corbis | Serena Williams of the United States serves against Kristie Ahn of the United States in the first round of the women’s singles on DAY 2 at Roland Garros on September 28, 2020 in Paris, France.


TIGER WOODS (GOLF)

Having become the youngest and first African American to win the U.S. Masters, Tiger Woods is currently named the greatest golfer ever. He was successfully named the PGA Player of the Year ten times over a period of twelve years, however, his personal life came in the way of this becoming a common occurrence.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Per-Anders Pettersson / Corbis | Golf player Tiger Woods practice on Griffith Park golf course as a 16-year old in 1991.

After almost eleven years, Tiger Woods won a major title in the 2019 Masters. Due to health issues, Woods chose to do back surgery in April 2020, which recovered quickly enough. Just one month later he won against Mickelson in their "Champions for Charity" rematch. Let’s see what 2021 is bringing his way!

Image Credits: Getty Images / John McCoy / PGA TOUR | Tiger Woods lines up a put on the 10th green during the third round at the Sherwood Country Club on October 24, 2020.


MARTA VIEIRA DA SILVA (SOCCER)

Named the best women soccer player of all time, Marta Vieira da Silva is a Brazilian and Swedish citizen, who currently plays for the Orlando Pride in the National Women's Soccer League in the United States, as well as for the Brazilian national team. She was the first soccer player of either gender to score at five World Cup editions.

Image Credits: Getty Images / A. Messerschmidt | Brazil forward Marta shoots for the goal Saturday, September 27, 2003 at RFK Stadium, Washington, D. C., during the opening round of the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003.

She has appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for women and girls in sport in 2018, and since has been working in order to bring forward gender equality in different fields, but especially in sports. Vieira Da Silva has been named one of FIFA’s Women's World Cup all-time record goalscorer, with 17 goals under her belt.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Andy Mead / ISI Photos | Marta Vieira da Silva #10 of the Orlando Pride plays the ball during a game between Orlando Pride and North Carolina Courage at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park on September 19, 2020 in Cary, North Carolina.


MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (RACING)

Commonly named the greatest F1 driver ever, Michael Schumacher has broken world records for most wins and most championship points, being also one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Throughout his career, he has managed to reach record levels in terms of the fastest laps as well as career points.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Cover Press / ullstein bild | Michael Schumacher.

In 2013, Michael Schumacher had a skiing accident that left him in a paralyzed state and, even though there are reports that his physical condition has been improving over time, he still requires the use of a wheelchair and has difficulty communicating. The latest information available pertains to a supposed innovative stem-cell surgery he would have in 2020.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Robert Cianflone | Michael Schumacher of Germany and Mercedes GP retires early after crashing into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne of France and Scuderia Toro Rosso during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 23, 2012 in Singapore, Singapore.


LINDSEY VONN (SKIING)

With a career that started at the young age of 7, Lindsey Vonn won her first title just seven years later. In 2008, Vonn became an overall champion on the World Cup, and this would be the first of four titles she would win in this championship.  

Image Credits: Getty Images / Christophe Pallot / Agence Zoom | Lindsey Vonn of the USA takes 1st place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's SuperG on January 15, 2012 in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

Having an incredible world record of 82 wins in the World Cup, Vonn retired in 2019, after suffering from one of the many crashes she had while training. She became a gold medalist in the Winter Olympics of 2010, and having missed the 2014 edition, she returned in 2018 to win a bronze medal in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Christophe Pallot / Zoom Agence | Lindsey Vonn during a press conference. She will be ambassador of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne 2020.


LEBRON JAMES (BASKETBALL)

Widely considered one of the best all-around players of basketball, LeBron James has made a name for himself in this sport for his skills which allowed the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers to win NBA championships, the latest in 2020.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE | LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat with the Maurice Podoloff Trophy in recognition for being named the 2011-12 KIA NBA Most Valuable Player on May 13, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Prior to game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Indiana Pacers during the 2012 NBA Playoffs.

While there are still no talks of retirement, LeBron James has admitted that he would be interested in following Michael Jordan’s steps and purchasing a football team, saying that “To be an owner of any team would be crazy. If this thing opened up and I’m in a position financially, and I’ve got the right team around me, obviously.”

Image Credits: Getty Images / David Dow / NBAE | LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers arrives to the arena prior to Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics on May 27, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.


ALEKSANDR KARELIN (GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING)

With a total wins of 887 and 2 losses, Aleksandr Karelin is the best Greco-Roman wrestler in the world, being a three-time Olympic gold medalist. He was nicknamed the Russian Bear for his physical appearance and strength, however, some people also called him "Russian King Kong", "Alexander the Great", and "The Experiment".

Image Credits: Getty Images / Aleksandr karelin of Russia.

His last competition was in the 2000 Summer Olympics, where he lost by one point to the American wrestler Rulon Gardner. Since then, Karelin has been named the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of the 20th century by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles, having also been named as one of the 25 best world athletes of the 20th century.

Image Credits: Getty Images / John Berry | Olympian Alexander Karelin of Russia attends the Men's Ice Hockey Semifinal Playoff between Sweden and Finland on Day 14 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 21, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.


NADIA COMANECI (GYMNASTICS)

Having become the first woman to ever score a perfect 10 in a gymnastics competition at the Olympic Games, Nadia Comaneci quickly made a name for herself at the young age of 14. As a gymnast, she had the power to change how both the sport and women's competitors were seen by the judges and audiences alike.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Leo Mason / Popperfoto | Nadia Comaneci at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Throughout her career, Comaneci won five gold Olympic medals, having won a position at the podium in nine different competitions. In 1984, the gymnast decided to relocate to the United States, and in 2000 she was named one of the Athletes of the 20th Century by the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Andreas Rentz | Laureus Academy member Nadia Comaneci signs the backdrop during her arrival at the 2020 Laureus World Sports Awards at Verti Music Hall on February 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.


KELLY SLATER (SURF)

Starting competitive surf at the age of 10, Kelly Slater is to this day considered the best competitive surfer in the world. He has won a total of eleven World Championships, five of which were won consecutively. Slater was also the youngest and oldest surfer to ever win this competition. 

Image Credits: Getty Images / Paul Jones / Fairfax Media | Kelly Slater from USA. May 3, 1992.

Slater has announced that he would retire before the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, right after the 2019 World Surf League pro tour. Having suffered from an injury in 2017, Slater informed a South African correspondent that he was calling it quits. Nevertheless, just last year he competed at the Freshwater Pro, so we never know what will happen!

Image Credits: Getty Images / Chris Trotman | Surfer Kelly Slater laughs during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links on February 08, 2020 in Pebble Beach, California.


DANICA PATRICK (RACING)

After dropping out of high school to pursue a career in racecar driving, Danica Patrick went on to become one of the best drivers in the world. She signed with Rahal Letterman Racing in 2002, and just three years later she became the first woman to ever win the IndyCar circuit.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Robert Mora | CART Racer Danica Patrick at the 26th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race April 13, 2002 in Long Beach, CA.

In 2013, she won the time trials at the Daytona 500, once again becoming the first woman to ever receive a pole position at the NASCAR event. In 2018, Patrick had her final competition at the Daytona 500, having soon after retired from racing. She has since been working as a host for the weekly podcast called “Pretty Intense”.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Slaven Vlasic | Former NASCAR driver Danica Patrick visits BuzzFeed's "AM To DM" to discuss her new podcast "Pretty Intense" on November 08, 2019 in New York City.


PELÉ (SOCCER)

Considered by many the greatest soccer player in history, Pelé is a Brazilian player that quickly became a legend with his performance at the World Cup in 1958. He played professionally in Brazil for twenty years and helped the national team win three World Cups.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Ferdi Hartung / ullstein bild | Pelé.

Later in his career, Pelé joined the New York Cosmos where he played until his last game in 1977. One year later, he was awarded the International Peace Award for his work with UNICEF and was named FIFA co-Player of the Century in 1999. To this day, he continues acting as a global ambassador for soccer and humanitarian causes.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Robert Cianflone | Pele holds a replica Wolrd Cup trophy during a press conference at The Peninsula on March 26, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.


MUHAMMAD ALI (BOXING)

Recognized widely as one of the greatest sportsmen of the 20th century, Muhammad Ali won the Olympic gold medal in 1960 and became the world champion of heavyweight boxing four years later. Due to refusing to do military service, Ali was suspended from competition but returned to the sport in the ‘70s to redeem two more titles.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Kent Gavin / Keystone | Supremely confident American boxer Cassius Clay holds up five fingers in a prediction of how many rounds it will take him to knock out British boxer Henry Cooper. (

In 1984, Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and since then he devoted most of his time to philanthropy, having received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Sadly, Ali was rushed to the hospital in 2016, where he passed away on June 2nd due to illness.

Image Credits: Getty Images / Stephen Cohen | Geena Davis and Muhammad Ali attends the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards at Louisville Marriott Downtown on September 19, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Throughout the decades, many men and women have reached stardom with their athletic skills, many of which will be remembered in the years to come. Which athlete do you think is missing from this list? Let us know in the comments below whom you think is a legendary athlete!  

ⓘ The information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, and images contained on, or available through this ENG.AMOMAMA.COM is for general information purposes only. ENG.AMOMAMA.COM does not take responsibility for any action taken as a result of reading this article. Before undertaking any course of treatment please consult with your healthcare provider.

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