The 25 Most Religious Athletes

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterNovember 30, 2011

The 25 Most Religious Athletes

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    The round-the-clock media circus that surrounds Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has pushed spirituality in professional sports into the spotlight. 

    Tebow's on-the-field prayer and good-natured embracing of the "Tebowing" phenomena have been highlighted by every sports publication in the country at this point. 

    Tebow might be the most high profile religious athlete in he world at the moment, but he's certainly not the only athlete with an outspoken enthusiasm for his faith.

    There have been a number of professional athletes and coaches, past and present, who didn't shy away from the subject of spirituality. 

    Here are 20 of the Most Religious Athletes in Sports

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and wife Tiffany, his junior high school sweetheart, are very active in the Catholic church.

    Rivers speaks to young people about spirituality and the importance of abstaining from premarital sex.

    Philip and Tiffany may have abstained from sex until marriage, but they've certainly made up on lost ground; the pair welcomed their sixth child in October, 2011. 

Tony Dungy, Retired NFL Coach

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    Former NFL coach Tony Dungy is a deeply religious man who was appointed by former President George W. Bush to serve on the President's Faith Council.

    Dungy doesn't often speak publicly on religion, but rather takes public positions on certain issues and steps in to mentor troubled NFL players. 

Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

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    Josh Hamilton had a well-reported history with drug and alcohol abuse and called his recovery "a God thing."

    He's been mostly clean since 2005 and takes every opportunity to share his stories of how Jesus brought him back from the edge and what keeps him going today. 

Dikembe Mutombo, Retired NBA

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    Retired NBA player Dikembe Mutombo is a devout Baptist who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has devoted most of his life to humanitarian work there.

    He's a spokesman for the international relief agency CARE and has worked for the United Nations Development Program.

    Mutombo was invited to the 2007 State of the Union Address and was specifically referred to as a "son of the Congo" by then-President George W. Bush. 

Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings

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    Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette is the world's most popular Mormon.

    Fredette had offers from 12 from schools coming out of high school, but ultimately chose to attend Brigham Young University, which was his older sister's alma mater. 

Morgan Pressel, LPGA

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    LPGA star Morgan Pressel is only 17, but she's already one of the best female golfers in the world.

    Pressel is Jewish and has said that her faith plays a huge part in her life; she even met her first boyfriend in Bible class at the private Episcopalian high school she attended . 

Chad Curtis, Retired MLB

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    Chad Curtis retired from baseball in 2001, but he was very outspoken about his religious beliefs during his time in MLB.

    While he was playing for the Yankees, as many as 25 players attended weekly chapel sessions or daily prayer services led by Curtis, the chapel leader. 

    Curtis was very open with his teammates and urged those he felt were "heading down wrong roads" to reevaluate their lives and embrace religion. 

Deion Sanders, Retired NFL

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    Retired cornerback Deion Sanders was one of the biggest superstar athletes in the world during his career, but has stated he had nothing until he found God. 

    Sanders has discussed not wanting to sleep in his $10,000 bed, not wanting to come home to his 15,000 square-foot home, and not wanting to drive his collection of luxury cars, as his "Prime Time" persona left him feeling empty. 

    Today he finds meaning in mentoring troubled youth through programs such as those offered by the Boys & Girls Club of America. 

Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers

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    Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler is Jewish and has become a prominent figure in the Jewish community in recent years; having donated a great deal of his time and money to various causes. 

    Kinsler's Jewish heritage makes him eligible to play for Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but has said that if he is invited to play for Team USA, he will have an extremely difficult decision on his hand.

Hakeem Olajuwon, Retired NBA

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    Retired NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon was known as an undisciplined trash-talker who racked up technical fouls and scrapped with players during his early years in the league.

    Later in his career, he took a greater interest in spirituality and became a more devout Muslim. 

    After retirement, Olajuwon and his family moved to Jordan to focus on Islamic studies, but he still returns a few times a year to visit former teammates and engage in various charitable endeavors. 

Jeff Kent, Retired MLB

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    Retired slugger Jeff Kent converted to Mormonism in 1989 and has said that it changed his life.

    Kent said that, as a Mormon, he didn't engage in a lot of the off-field activities that are usually associated with professional athletes. 

    Kent was well-known for his strained relationship with teammate Barry Bonds while on the Giants and more recently for his generous donations to the Prop 8 campaign in California, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Reggie White (1968-2004), Retired NFL

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    The late, great Green Bay Packer legend Reggie White was nicknamed "The Minister of Defense" because of his devout Christian faith. White was an ordained Evangelical minister.

    White was impacted by the rash of arsons at African-American churches in the mid-90s when the Knoxville, Tennessee church, where he served as associate minister, was burned to the ground in 1996. 

Bill Goldberg, Retired Wrestling

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    Retired football player/wrestler Bill Goldberg is best known for his undefeated winning steak (174-1) in World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment. 

    Goldberg is Jewish and has said that he had a spiritual awakening later in his career, but even early on, he made his religious identity a cornerstone of his professional identify. 

    Today he is active in a number of charitable causes and is one of the leading advocates for animal welfare and a spokesman for for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 

Carl Everett, Retired MLB

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    Though it seems a fair amount of religiously outspoken athletes "practice what they preach" in their own lives, retired MLB player Carl Everett probably wouldn't be considered one of them.

    Everett is very well known for his dinosaur-denial stance, saying: 

    "God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and earth, and then made Adam and Eve. The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can't say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Somebody actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex." 

    During his career Everett had numerous nasty altercations with umpires and had said of the possibility of having an openly gay teammate that he would "set him straight" because "Gays being gay is wrong" and that he "doesn't believe in being gay." 

    In 2011, Everett was arrested in Florida on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and witness tampering, after reportedly holding a handgun to the head of his wife of 18 years. 

    It actually feels kind of wrong to call Everett "religious" after all that; more like intolerant psychopathic behavior masquerading as "religion." 

Steve Young, Retired NFL

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    Retired quarterback Steve Young is a well-known Mormon who attended Brigham Young University.

    And Young isn't just any Mormon, he's actually the great-great-great-grandson of the actual Brigham Young; the second President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    That's legit.  

    Young is also a humanitarian with his own charitable foundation, the Forever Young Foundation, which serves underprivileged children from all backgrounds and provides opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them. 

Joe Gibbs, Retired NFL

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    Retired NFL coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs and his wife Melissa are devout Christians. 

    Gibbs addressed the 2008 Republican National Convention and spoke on behalf of John McCain and Sarah Palin, insisting their election would lead to a "spiritual awakening" in the United States.

    Although, after the speech he said that partisan politics felt a little "awkward" for him.  

Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox

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    Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy is a devout Christian who recently discussed giving his heart to God at age seven, with the 700 Club

    Peavy says that all of his success in baseball, and in life, is thanks to the grace of God and went on to explain

    He’s the reason that I believe I’m able to do what I do. There’s no way I can tell you that on my own I can go out and be able to perform in some of these stadiums and some of these atmospheres.

A.C. Green, Retired NBA

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    Retired NBA player A.C. Green converted to Christianity while in high school in Hermiston, Oregon. 

    Green has insisted that he began and ended his NBA career as a virgin, despite teammates sending him women in an attempt to corrupt his morals.

     He responded by calmly quoting scripture to the lucky ladies. 

    Today he runs the A.C. Green Youth Foundation which promotes abstinence until marriage. 

Kurt Warner, Retired NFL

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    Retired NFL quarterback Kurt Warner and his wife Brenda are devout evangelical Christians. 

    After winning the Super Bowl with the Rams and being named the game's MVP, Warner famously thanked Jesus, his Lord and Savior, before answering any postgame questions. 

    Warner believes in faith healing and believes that God healed him from a serious concussion he suffered in 2000. 

Muhammed Ali, Retired Boxer

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    Retired boxing legend Muhammed Ali converted to the Nation of Islam in the mid-60s.

    He became a lightning rod of controversy during the tumultuous time, and often took conflicting positions on issues like civil rights. 

    Ali converted to mainstream Sunni Islam in 1975 and in 2005 he embraced the spiritual practices of Sufism. 

Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

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    Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera and his wife Clara, who he has known since elementary school, are devout Christians.

     Rivera's upbringing wasn't particularly religious, but that all changed after becoming "born-again" in his mid-20s.

    He believes that "everything happens for a reason" and cites the Yankees 2001 World Series loss as proof.

    Had the Yankees won Game 7, teammate Enrique Wilson would have remained in New York a few extra days and would have flown to his home in the Dominican Republic on American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed after takeoff and killed all 260 on board. 

    Rivera's pitching glove is inscribed with the Bible verse "Phil. 4:13."

Allyson Felix, U.S. Track and Field

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    American track and field phenom Allyson Felix is the daughter of a Christian pastor and isn't afraid to talk about her faith.

    At the London Olympics in 2012, Felix is expected to meet or exceed her multiple gold medal winning performance at the Beijing Olympics, but she says her main goal in life is becoming more "Christ-like" and that everything else is secondary. 

Curt Schilling, Retired MLB

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    Retired Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is a born-again Christian who has been outspoken about his religious beliefs, as well as political leanings. 

    Schilling is very active in charitable causes and has donated time and money to organizations that support sufferers of ALS and Asperger's syndrome, and funds cancer research.

    He and his wife each have their own charitable organization. 

Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos

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    Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is basically the poster boy for religion in professional sports.

    Tebow was born in the Philippines to two parents serving as Christian Baptist missionaries and was the first home-schooled athlete to with the Heisman Trophy.

    Tebow isn't shy about showing his faith and even embraced "Tebowing," the national sensation derived from his penchant for on-field prayer.  

Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks

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    New York Knick Amar'e Stoudemire has said that his Jewish heritage is something "that has played a subtle but important role in (his) development."

    In recent years he's visited Israel in order to further explore his heritage and it's been reported recently that Stoudemire is considering opening a Hebrew school.