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Dancing with the Stars Cast: Best Athletes to Compete All-Time

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterFebruary 28, 2012

Dancing with the Stars Cast: Best Athletes to Compete All-Time

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    ABC recently announced the Season 14 cast of Dancing with the Stars. Among the B-list "celebrities" competing for the disco ball trophy are two world class athletes—Packers wide receiver Donald Driver and tennis legend Martina Navratilova. 

    If history is any indication, Driver and Navratilova are likely to do very well. In 13 seasons, an athlete has won an impressive five times—four just missed, coming in second. 

    Let's take a look at 20 of the best athletes to compete on DWTS, ranking them based on their dancing success. 

20. Chuck Liddell, UFC

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    Season: 9
    Place: 11th 

    UFC champion Chuck Liddell competed in Season 9 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in 11th place. 

    Liddell finished behind Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin and just behind Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin. 

19. Natalie Coughlin, Olympic Swimmer

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    Season: 9
    Place: 10th  

    Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Natalie Coughlin competed in Season 9 of Dancing with the Stars and placed 10th in the competition. 

    Season 9 was one of a handful of seasons that an athlete didn't make it into the top five—retired wide receiver Michael Irvin was closest to the top five in seventh place. 

18. Sugar Ray Leonard, Retired Boxer

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    Season: 12
    Place: 9th  

    Retired professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard competed in Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in ninth place. 

    Sugar Ray's moves weren't sweet enough to outlast WWE superstar Chris Jericho or wide receiver Hines Ward. 

17. Floyd Mayweather Jr., Boxer

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    Season: 5
    Place: 9th  

    Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. competed on Season 5 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in ninth place. 

    He may have failed to connect with the audience because Mayweather actually received solid scores from the judges the week he was eliminated from the competition; the viewer vote is what sent him home.  

16. Lawrence Taylor, Retired NFL

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    Season: 8
    Place: 7th 

    Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor competed on Season 8 of Dancing with the Stars and finished a respectable seventh place. 

    Taylor's season was stacked with athletes—he competed against Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, rodeo champion Ty Murray and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft. 

15. Michael Irvin, Retired NFL

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    Season: 9
    Place: 7th 

    Retired NFL star Michael Irvin competed on Season 9 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in seventh place. 

    Irvin failed to impress early on but managed to improve week to week and said he was happy to have made it seven weeks on the show. 

14. Evander Holyfield, Retired Boxer

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    Season: 1
    Place: 5th  

    Retired boxing legend Evander Holyfield competed on the inaugural season of Dancing with the Stars and finished in fifth place. 

    Holyfield was not the best dancer and his fifth-place finish sounds better than it actually is—there were only six competitors on Season 1. 

13. Kurt Warner, Retired NFL

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    Season: 11
    Place: 5th  

    Retired NFL quarterback Kurt Warner competed on Season 11 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in fifth place. 

    Warner took the news of his elimination like a champion though, saying backstage after his elimination, "It was unfair. We felt for a long time that we should have gotten better scores than we did, so we're disappointed."

12. Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer

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    Season: 13
    Place: 4th  

    U.S. soccer star Hope Solo competed on Season 13 of Dancing with the Stars and was mercifully eliminated in fourth place. 

    Solo's overall popularity was on full display as her horrifying dancing week-to-week was overlooked by the viewing audience. Girl can't dance to save her life, but the fact that she was just one episode shy of the finale speaks volumes about her popularity and likability.  

11. Chad Ochocinco, New England Patriots

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    Season: 10
    Place: 4th 

    Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco competed on Season 10 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in fourth place. 

    Ocho just missed out on competing in the finale—ESPN's Erin Andrews and figure skater Evan Lysacek finished behind Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Sherzinger. 

10. Laila Ali, Retired Boxer

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    Season: 4
    Place: 3rd 

    Retired boxer Laila Ali competed in Season 4 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in third place. 

    Ali competed in the season finale, but came up just short, finishing behind NSYNC's Joey Fatone and Olympic speedster Apolo Anton Ohno.

9. Evan Lysacek, Olympic Figure Skater

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    Season: 10
    Place: 2nd  

    Olympic gold medal figure skater Evan Lysacek competed in Season 10 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in second place. 

    Lysacek nearly captured gold again, but Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger proved too tough. 

8. Warren Sapp, Retired NFL

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    Season: 7
    Place: 2nd  

    Retired defensive tackle Warren Sapp competed in Season 7 of Dancing with the Stars and proved a big man can move by finishing in second place. 

    A surprisingly fleet-footed Sapp beat out boy-bander Lance Bass, singer Toni Braxton and amateur adult film star Kim Kardashian. 

7. Jason Taylor, Retired NFL

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    Season: 6

    Retired Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor competed in Season 6 of Dancing with the Stars and made it to the season finale before losing to Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. 

    Taylor was one of the favorites throughout the season and never had a down week.  

6. Jerry Rice, Retired NFL

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    Season: 2
    Place: 2nd  

    Wide receiving legend Jerry Rice competed on Season 2 of Dancing with the Stars and finished in second place, he was narrowly beaten out by boy-bander Drew Lachey. 

    I hope Drew Lachey enjoyed the moment, it's the only time he'll ever be considered better than Jerry Rice at anything. 

5. Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic Figure Skater

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    Season: 6
    Place: 1st 

    Olympic figure skating gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi competed on Season 6 of Dancing with the Stars and, unsurprisingly, finished first. 

    Her figure skating background made Yamaguchi a natural for the competition and gave her the edge she needed to beat out linebacker Jason Taylor, who finished a close second. 

4. Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Season: 14

    Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward competed on Season 12 of Dancing with the Stars and placed first. 

    Ward was an early favorite on the show, and he and his partner earned the first perfect 10s of the season.  

3. Apolo Anton Ohno, Olympic Speedskater

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    Season: 4
    Place: 1st  

    Olympic speedskating superstar Apolo Anton Ohno competed in Season 4 of Dancing with the Stars and was one of many athletes to come in first place. 

    Ohno and his partner Julianne Hough were early favorites and beat out a dude from Cheers, a dude from Beverly Hills 90201 and a dude from NSYNC.

2. Shawn Johnson, Olympic Gymnast

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    Season: 6
    Place: 1st  

    Spritely gymnast Shawn Johnson competed in season eight of Dancing with the Stars and was partnered with Mark Ballas, the professional dancer who partnered with the Season 6 winner.

    She was the youngest competitor in the show's history and narrowly edged out Gilles Marini to win the competition.

1. Emmitt Smith, Retired NFL

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    Season: 3
    Place: 1st 

    Legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith competed on Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars and won the whole damn thing. 

    Smith was by far the biggest "star" on the show, beating out the unimpressive likes of Mario Lopez, Joey Lawrence, Shanna Moakler and Tucker Carlson. 

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