40 Most Successful Athletes of the 21st Century

Source: Al Bello / Getty Images

11. Floyd Mayweather
> Sport: Boxing
> Championships: 9x world champion, 22x world title defense
> Team or country: United States
> Career length: 1996-2017
> Other accomplishments: 50-0 record, 3x Fighter of the Year

Floyd Mayweather amassed an amazing 50-0 record as a professional boxer, claiming championships in five different weight classes. He defended his world titles 22 times. After his August 2017 fight with Conor McGregor, it is estimated that Mayweather has made over $1 billion in his career. Mayweather has since fought in several exhibition matches, taking on opponents like kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa and social media celeb Logan Paul.

Source: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

12. Jimmie Johnson
> Sport: NASCAR
> Championships: 7x NASCAR Cup Series
> Team or country: Hendrick Motorsports
> Career length: 2001-2020
> Other accomplishments: 83 races won

Jimmie Johnson had a streak of dominance unprecedented in NASCAR history. Johnson won seven championships in 11 years, including five straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 2006-2010.

Source: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

13. Kevin Durant
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 2x NBA Champ, 3x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets
> Career length: 2007-present
> Other accomplishments: 1x MVP, 12x All-star

Kevin Durant’s rare blend of size and skill have made him one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He has led the league in scoring four times. Durant left Oklahoma City to team up with Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, winning two titles and consecutive Finals MVP awards. He now plays for the Brooklyn Nets. Durant also led Team USA to three consecutive gold medals in 2012, 2016, and 2020.

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

14. Kobe Bryant
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 5x NBA Champion, 2x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: Los Angeles Lakers
> Career length: 1996-2016
> Other accomplishments: 18x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1x MVP

Kobe Bryant helped continue the Los Angeles Lakers’ victorious ways, winning three straight titles in the early 2000s and two more in 2009 and 2010. In his 20 year career, Bryant made 18 All Star Games, won an MVP, and led the league in scoring twice. He also won an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball”. Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter accident in January of 2020.

Source: Harry How / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

15. LeBron James
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 3x NBA Champion, 2x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers
> Career length: 2003-present
> Other accomplishments: 18x All-Star, 4x MVP

LeBron James won two NBA Championships with the Miami Heat before returning to his original team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and winning a championship there in 2016. James left the Cavs and moved to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 and guided the team to the NBA championship in the COVID-19–shortened 2019-2020 season. He also holds two Olympic gold medals and four NBA MVP awards.

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