More and more, we see how many sports icons do not mind being put on a pedestal, but have no interest in being a role model. In a world where basketball players like Dennis Rodman think that they can serve as decent U.S. diplomats, it’s nice to see good role models can still be found in American sports. Here are just five that stand out:
Team: Seattle Seahawks
Fans of the Seattle Seahawks know that their team would never have made it to the 2014 Super Bowl if not for the skill and swiftness of one of their newest stars, quarterback Russell Wilson. To say that his faith in Jesus Christ was important to him would almost be an understatement. Wilson first became a Christian at the age of 14 and has never looked back. He is unashamed of the gospel and proudly shares his faith in press conferences and through social media. When not on the field, he is an active volunteer including making weekly visits to Seattle Children’s Hospital, hosting the Russell Wilson Passing Academy, a youth football camp and leading his own charitable organization, The Power of the Mind Foundation.
Team: USA Olympic Team
Who can resist the smile that belongs to Gabby Douglas? She has a lot to smile about. The film, The Gabby Douglas Story, a new Lifetime movie, was aired for the first time on Feb. 1 of this year. Douglas has authored her first book, Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith and she plans to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games, too. Before the last summer Olympics, Gabby placed first in the Olympic trials which earned her the only “guaranteed” spot for the Olympic team. During the Olympics, she won the Team Gold and the Women’s Gymnastics Olympic All-Around Title. (She is the only African American to receive the All-Around title and also the only female to receive both titles.) Gabby is a good sport on and off the balance beam and she is not afraid to share her faith with others tells.
While initially following in her father Muhammad Ali’s footsteps in the boxing ring, Laila is continually inspiring woman and youth in the U.S. in a variety of areas. In addition to her sports skills, Ali is a gifted speaker and a good role model on how to be the best woman, wife, mother and daughter you can be. She is the author of the book Reach!, which she wrote as a way to reach out to young women, and she is highly involved in Women’s Sports Foundation, which encourages young women that it is okay to pursue their dreams in the area of sports and fitness. She is just as tough as she is tender. Who knew that a former manicurist could turn into a champion boxer?
Team: Los Angeles Clippers
When not playing basketball or attending church, Chris Paul can usually be found working with a variety of charities including his own. In 2005, Chris created the CP3 Foundation with members of his family as a way in honoring his late grandfather who was murdered years ago. CP3 strategizes ways to help serve communities with scholarship funds and initiatives that support other charities like Feed The Children, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boys & Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity in addition to offering basketball clinics for children and helping fund sports programs. Paul believes in giving back and leads by example.
Team: New York Mets
Known as one of the nicest guys in baseball, Curtis Granderson has a deep respect for baseball and children. During the off season, Granderson has served as speaker and an endorser for Major League Baseball International traveling from England to South Africa to Japan – all to promote the sport of baseball. Back in the states, Granderson represented the MLB in promoting Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move anti-obesity program for children and he has written his own children’s book, All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It!
Besides baseball, Granderson is also known for being a very charitable person. Just last year it was announced that he donated $5 million to help the University of Illinois in Chicago build a new baseball stadium. Granderson has his own foundation as well. Grand Kids raises money to help support the education of inner-city children. Instead of getting paid for endorsing such products as Nike, Louisville Slugger and Rawlings, Granderson asked that they give to his charity instead.