Athletes with Rare Physical Traits

Amber Lee@@BlamberrSports Lists Lead WriterMarch 26, 2014

Athletes with Rare Physical Traits

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    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. 

Ryan Lochte

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    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. 

Steve Young

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    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. 

Kasey Kahne

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    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.  

Tom Brady

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    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. 

Philip Samuelsson

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    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

Giannis Antetokounmpo

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    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. 

Kenny George

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    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. 

Zsuzsanna Jakabos

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    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.

Brian Scalabrine

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    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. 

Tavon Allen

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    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

    Drexel guard Tavon Allen feels comfortable shooting with either hand, an exceptionally rare physical trait in an athlete. Another famous ambidextrous athlete? NHL Hall of Fame great Gordie Howe

Max Scherzer

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    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

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    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.