Athletes with Rare Physical Traits
Athletes are already pretty rare in their own right. Although the percentage of people that play sports may be relatively high early in life, the number dwindles each year as competition for a limited number of spots increases.
Estimates put the number of kids that play sports at some point in the neighborhood of 75 percent. A pretty big drop off when you consider that less than 1 percent of the overall population plays professional sports. In fact, the number is well under 1 percent.
According to NCAA and NAIA statistics, just 1 in 250 college athletes go on to play professionally. That represents 0.4 percent of college athletes. If less than one half of one percent of college athletes go on to play professional sports, it would be far lower among the total population.
That being said, as rare as professional athletes actually are, some possess physical traits that make them even rarer. Here are a few athletes that standout among a tiny fragment of the population that already stands out.
Athlete, Team: Ryan Lochte, American Olympian
Physical Trait: Cheek Dimples
Not as rare as some of the other traits on this list, cheek dimples, like those of Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, are possessed by 20 percent of the population. Although, unlike many uncommon characteristics, dimples are not a recessive trait. Which means that if two parents each have dimples, their children have a 50-100 percent chance of passing it on.
Athlete, Team: Steve Young, Retired NFL
Physical Trait: Left Handed
Though left-handedness is not exceedingly uncommon, it’s still a relatively rare physical trait, with just 10 percent of the population estimated to be left-handed. The University of Indiana compiled a list of left-handed athletes at some point, among them is Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
Other greats include: boxer Oscar de la Hoya, MLB slugger Babe Ruth, NHL great Cam Neely, NBA Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Larry Bird, and tennis great John McEnroe.
Athlete, Team: Kasey Kahne, NASCAR
Physical Trait: Blue Eyes
Race car driver Kasey Kahne’s piercing blue eyes represent a rare physical trait shared by just 8 percent of the Earth’s population. While the instance of blue eyes is far more common among American caucasians, the overall number of people born with blue eyes has dropped dramatically in the last 60 years.
Athlete, Team: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Physical Trait: Cleft chin
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s dimpled chin is a very rare physical trait among humans of both sexes, though it’s more common among certain ethnicities. It’s estimated that just 4 percent of the population share this characteristic.
Athlete, Team: Philip Samuelsson, Pittsburgh Penguins
Physical Trait: Blonde Hair
With the millions of bottled blondes wandering around these days, it can be easy to forget how rare natural blonde hair really is. Though it’s far more common in Scandinavian countries like Sweden, where Penguins defenseman Philip Samuelsson hails from, only 16 percent of the caucasian population is natural blonde. Worldwide it’s just 2 percent.
Athlete, Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Physical Trait: Giant Hands
There is no exact size considered “normal” for hands, as they vary from person-to-person depending on size. That being said, much like former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s stance on pornography, when it comes to spotting an abnormally large hand, “ I know it when I see it.”
Bucks shooting guard Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the largest players in the NBA right now, at 6’10 1/4 he boasts a 7’3 wingspan. In January 2014 blogger Payal Doshi compared her hands to that of Antekokounmpo and posted the photo to Instagram. Check out the photo for yourself and then you be the judge.
Athlete, Team: Kenny George, UNC
Physical Trait: Size
In order to put the size of former UNC player Kenny George in perspectival, consider that at 7’7 he has about half a foot on famed big men like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal.
Athlete, Team: Zsuzsanna Jakabos, Hungarian Olympian
Physical Trait: Green Eyes
Blue eyes are relatively uncommon worldwide, but green eyes, like those of Hungarian swimmer Zsuzsanna Jakabos, are actually far more rare. While as many as 8 percent of the overall population has blue eyes, it is estimated that just 1-2 percent possess green eyes.
Athlete, Team: Brian Scalabrine, Retired NBA
Physical Trait: Red Hair
As if you needed another reason to demonstrate what a rare and glorious snowflake Brian Scalabrine is, true redheads represent just 1-2 percent of the world’s population. Redheads are even rare where the gene mutation first originated—Scotland.
Scotland is said to have the largest concentration of redheads in the world, with 13 percent of the population having red hair and 40 percent carrying the recessive gene. That’s more than a fifth of the world’s red hair. Ireland comes in second with 10 percent of the population.
Athlete, Team: Tavon Allen, Drexel
Physical Trait: Ambidextrous
Approximately 90 percent of people are right-handed and the remaining 10 percent are left-handed. That leaves the number of people who are ambidextrous, meaning they don’t favor one hand over the other, somewhere in the margin of error at or under 1 percent.
Athlete, Team: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers
Physical Trait: Heterchromia Iridis
Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer has a very rare physical trait known as Heterchromia Iridis, meaning his eyes are two different colors. Just six of every 1,000 people are born with (or later develop) this characteristic, which represents just 0.6 percent of the overall population.
Henrik & Daniel Sedin
Athlete, Team: Henrik & Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Physical Trait: Identical Twins
Identical twins are very rare among the overall population, they make up just 1 in 150 births, or 0.67 percent. Twins in professional sports are even rarer, with the Canucks’ Henrik and Daniel Sedin being among just a handful in history to both make it at such a high level.
When you consider that the Sedin brothers are both identical twins and redheads, it makes the odds of their existence all the more improbable.
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