LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, RGIII and most others of the superstar ilk had massive followings before they went pro. They had already left a smoldering trail of trophies won and records broken.
And then there were those who entered the pros having never made a headline, having never smirked out from the cover of a magazine, having never endorsed so much as a mom-and-pop corner store. But when they first stepped out on the court/field/pitch as a pro, when those high-pressure sodium lights first bathed them in intense white light, something clicked and they erupted into a blaze of stardom.
Click on to see the athletes who instantly combusted the sports scene.