Ebb and flow over the course of a sports career is only natural. It's almost impossible for an athlete to maintain a place on a 'best of' list like this year-after-year. Maybe a rising star finally breaks through and meets lofty expectations; or someone comes out of nowhere with a game-changing play or performance.
Championships, All-Star honors, huge new contracts, coming back from a devastating injury—these are all factors that come into play when evaluating who deserves to be on this list.
The accolodes and accomplishments, as well as the headlines, needed to stand out are more than most can handle. Each year, some athletes sink to the bottom, while others rise to the top.
Here are the 25 athletes who had the best year ever.