They epitomize physical perfection, perform gravity-defying tricks and have more female fans than Lifetime. On the surface, athletes are the perfect species.
But underneath the flash and glamour is mystery. For many athletes, a fearless nature on the field is complemented by a terrified mindset away from it. They're human too.
The strangest athlete fears of all time are proof...
Fear: Afraid of the dark (and monsters under the bed)
She's deadly on the court, feared by the intimidated opponents tough enough to even approach her shadow. Away from tennis, however, she has trouble simply turning the lights off.
If I had a "$800,000, 45-foot luxury coach fitted with everything from sauna to gourmet galley," traveling by motor coach would be my choice as well. But for sportscaster, former coach and 1958 Eagles 21st-round pick John Madden, claustrophobia has kept him from flying since 1979.
A powerful and intimidating pugilist who first became World Heavyweight Champion in 1962 by knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round, hard-nosed Sonny Liston was indeed afraid of needles. Sewing wasn't in his repertoire.
For a world-class skier and mountain biker, a fear of heights may seem ridiculous. But for Aleisha Cline, acrophobia is the ideal motivator. "Once the race starts, I can't wait to get off the hill," she says.
Fear: The Sea
English freestyle swimmer Rebecca Adlington, owner of two Olympic gold medals, is ironically afraid of the very substance that she gracefully dominates.
One of the biggest and most talented pop stars in tennis history, Andre Agassi has full-blown Arachnophobia. Although, spiders aren't exactly friendly creatures.
Fear: Deathly afraid of spiders (a step above Agassi)
A journeyman outfielder with the defensive prowess of a wounded bear, Glenallen Hill once found himself on the 15-day disabled list following a covered-in-spiders nightmare that caused him to jump out of bed, smash a glass table and fall down stairs.
He was fittingly named Spiderman.
Oh yes, after a messy Orlando divorce last season, Dwight Howard is already thinking about leaving Los Angeles. Seriously, this guy is Brett Favre without the pictures of junk.
Fear: Putting face under water
Swimming wasn't always easy for the greatest swimmer of all time. Now that he has 22 medals and a historic legacy, Michael Phelps can confidently admit to his early fear of dipping his face under the water at an early age.
Having quietly dominated the NBA paint for the past 15 years, Tim Duncan is used to getting bitten by the nibbling defenders looking for an edge. Never is he fazed.
But under the water, the threat of a shark bite can get this humble giant shaking in his enormous boots.
Fear: Any type of disorder (Ataxophobia)
According to wife Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, “If there are three cans of diet coke he’d throw one away rather than having three because it’s uneven.” His closets are color-coordinated and his kicks, naturally, perfectly curved.
Fear: Dogs, spiders, storms, motorbikes, sleeping in the dark
It seems the only thing former World No. 1 tennis player Rafael Nadal isn't afraid of is serving aces.
Fear: Horses (Equinophobia)
A talented third-year safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, Eric Berry is a steaming locomotive on the gridiron. He hits, picks and swifts. Until, of course, he sees a horse.
Unfortunately, he's in the wrong city.
Fear: Easter Bunny
Fiery tennis star Andy Roddick tarnished his manly image during his appearance at the 2002 Davis Cup, when he allegedly became agitated with the rabbit mascots prancing about the Easter morning brunch.
Fear: Historic statues
Weber State product Damian Lillard, this year's sixth-overall pick, is running the show in Portland with 19.1 points and 6.3 assists per game. But the crafty point guard is brutally afraid of historic statues, pointing out his rough experience at a wax museum as a possible spark.
In which case, Carmelo Anthony may be his worst nightmare.