40 Most Successful Athletes of the 21st Century

Source: Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

31. Shaquille O’Neal
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 4x NBA Champion, 1x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat
> Career length: 1992-2011
> Other accomplishments: 15x All-Star, 8x All-NBA, 1x MVP

As one of the most dominant centers in NBA history, Shaquille O’Neal has won four NBA championships — he won three titles in a row with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000-2002 before winning his fourth in 2006. O’Neal won NBA MVP in 2000.

Source: Clive Rose / Getty Images

32. Shaun White
> Sport: Skateboarding, snowboarding
> Championships: 15x X Games gold medal, 3x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: United States
> Career length: 2000-present
> Other accomplishments: 23 total X Games medals

Shaun White is one of the most successful two-sport athletes of all time. White is a skateboarding and snowboarding legend, having won 23 X Games medals, 15 of them gold, as well as three Olympic golds for halfpipe snowboarding. After finishing fourth in the 2022 Winter Olympics halfpipe competition, White announced he would retire.

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

33. Sidney Crosby
> Sport: Hockey
> Championships: 3x Stanley Cup, 2x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: Pittsburgh Penguins
> Career length: 2005-present
> Other accomplishments: 8x All-Star, 2x Hart Trophy

After entering the NHL as one of the most exciting prospects ever, Sidney Crosby has managed to live up to the hype. Crosby won three Stanley Cups before his 30th birthday and his Pittsburgh Penguins seem poised to keep winning. Crosby has also led the NHL in points and goals twice, assists once, and won two Hart Trophies as NHL MVP.

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34. Simone Biles
> Sport: Gymnastics
> Championships: 4x gold medal, 1x silver medal, 2x bronze medal
> Team or country: United States
> Career length: 2016-present
> Other accomplishments: 25 total world medals

Simone Biles had one of the most impressive Olympic debuts in 2016, when she took home four gold medals and one bronze. She finished first in the individual all-around, vault, and floor events, and third in the beam. She also propelled her “Final Five” teammates to gold in the team gymnastics event. Biles has taken home an unprecedented 25 medals in world championships, 19 of them gold, to make her the most decorated gymnast of all time. Though Biles struggled with a mental block known as “the twisties” in the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021 due to COVID-19), she took home silver in the team all-around and a bronze on balance beam.

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35. Stephen Curry
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 3x NBA Champ
> Team or country: Golden State Warriors
> Career length: 2009-present
> Other accomplishments: 2x MVP, 8x All-star

Steph Curry is one of the greatest pure shooters of all time, shattering multiple NBA 3-pointer records on his way to consecutive NBA MVPs in 2015 and 2016. Curry is the leader of the Warriors dynasty, which won four titles and made it to four consecutive NBA Finals. He has led the league in scoring twice and steals once.

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