10 Athletes Whose Lives Can't Get Any Better
If someone is young and has the opportunity to make a living doing what they love—what they're really great at—then they're already better positioned for success than most people. Athletes elite enough to go pro may start in a better place, but everything from injuries to badly managed money can quickly make an uneventful, ordinary life seem luxurious.
It's the nature of the job: It's high-risk, high-reward and at the mercy of factors beyond a person's control. And the physical talent that makes it all possible is often cruelly fleeting.
So, when an athlete manages to be one of the best at their job, while also making every other aspect of their life look easy; it's quite an accomplishment. You know who I'm talking about—the athletes who win championships, while walking the red carpet and investing in successful businesses. Call it "the magic touch," call it "the rich, getting richer"; either way...it's impressive.
These are 10 athlete lives that literally couldn't get any better.
In December, Sporting News’ DeAntae Prince noted that Warriors point guard Stephen Curry would absolutely outplay his four-year, $44 million contract with Golden State, calling the 26-year-old “criminally underpaid.”
The timing of the re-up wasn’t ideal for Curry, who missed a great deal of time dealing with a successive pair on ankle injuries over the 2011-12 season. Then a potential star on the rise, these days Curry is one of the most buzzed-about players in the NBA and is a front-runner for this season’s MVP.
The guy has got friends in high places too. In February 2014, President Barack Obama told Inside the NBA’s Charles Barkley (via Sports Illustrated's Extra Mustard) that Curry is “the best shooter [he’s] ever seen.” In February 2015, Curry was invited to the White House to meet the president and give a speech in support of Obama’s Malaria Initiative.
Steph Curry Breakdown
Reputation: Right now everyone seems to love Stephen Curry, who is far less polarizing than another Akron native, LeBron James.
Net Worth: $20 million (and climbing rapidly)
Endorsements: It’s hard to believe that in February 2014 Curry’s marketability was being questioned. Just one year later, he’s the hottest commodity in the NBA, with Under Armour anchoring what will eventually be a stable of endorsements.
Real Estate: In May 2014, the Warriors superstar sold his $1.5 million Oakland area penthouse. The year prior, Curry signed a four-year extension with Golden State, which presumably led to an upgrade in domicile.
Lucky in Love: Curry was just 23 when he married longtime love Ayesha Alexander in 2011. A former actress/model/singer, Alexander isn’t just beautiful and talented, according to a recent SFGate profile, she’s also an amazing cook.
Irishman Rory McIlroy has been generating buzz as (potentially) "The Next Tiger Woods" since 2010. That’s a full year before winning his first major at the 2011 U.S. Open in historic fashion—McIlroy was eight shots ahead of his nearest competitor.
It was after that U.S. Open win that the narrative really began to take hold. The issue for McIlroy is that, except for his PGA Championship win in 2012, he would spend much of the next several years in a painfully public slump.
Whatever McIlroy was dealing with over those two years, he completely put it behind him in 2014—by far the best year of his career to date. After placing eighth at the Masters in April, he went on to win The Open Championship in July and the PGA Championship in August.
Rory McIlroy Breakdown
Reputation: For a stretch there it looked like McIlroy was in jeopardy of not living up to the hype that had been unfairly heaped on him
Net Worth: $65 million
Endorsements: McIlroy has a number of high-dollar endorsements, but none bigger than the $200 million deal he’s got with Nike—one of the most lucrative in sports today.
Real Estate: In addition to his Ireland mansion, which is available to rent for just $20k a week, GossipExtra.com (via Devil Ball Golf's Jonathan Wall) reported in late 2012 that McIlroy bought an $11 million Florida mansion.
Lucky in Love: Last year, McIlroy looked to be on the fast track to matrimony with Dutch tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, who he’d been dating since 2011. But just months ahead of their wedding, he called off the engagement. Since then he’s been linked with a number of lovely ladies, including PGA employee Erica Stoll most recently, according to the Daily Mail's Sara Malm and Chris Cutmore.
Matt Kemp played center field for the Dodgers from 2006 until 2014, after which he was traded to the Padres. He was just 30 years old at the time of his geographically convenient trade.
Although he had some successes over the years in Los Angeles, Kemp's best seasons were definitely his All-Star outings in 2011 and 2012, especially when he won the NL Hank Aaron Award in 2011.
Not too bad for a guy who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2003 MLB draft. Even as not a free agent in 2012, Kemp was given an eight-year deal worth $160 million—and that’s from a team that was technically bankrupt!
Matt Kemp Breakdown
Reputation: Although he’s generally well-liked nationally, Matt Kemp does have a dark side.
Net Worth: $25 million (despite seeming like it should be much more)
Endorsements: As one of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2014, Kemp makes the overwhelming majority of his money in actual salary, with under $1 million coming from endorsements annually.
Real Estate: In March 2012, (then) Dodgers All-Star Matt Kemp listed his Los Angeles condo for an impressive $2.5 million, according to TMZ (via Business Insider). At this point, it’s unknown if he replaced the property in his portfolio, but hopefully he did something to offset the cost of his reported $30K monthly rental from 2013, as reported by TMZ.
Lucky in Love: Living in Los Angeles, Kemp’s active dating life over the years has included singing superstar Rihanna and reality star Khloe Kardashian. These days, Kemp is keeping things low key with girlfriend Nchimunya Wulf, who was rumored to be pregnant with their first child before Kemp tweeted it wasn't true, as reported by US Weekly.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been widely regarded as one of the NHL’s premiere goaltenders since being named to the league’s All-Rookie Team for the 2005-06 season. Following the 2011-12 season, he earned the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top goalie.
New York can be a tough town for athletes, but Lundqvist’s decade or so in the Big Apple has been largely a fairy tale. In May 2013, it seemed a "him or me" situation developed between chiseled superstar and coach John Tortorella. The coach was ultimately sent packing, and seven months later Lundqvist was given a seven-year extension.
Then, of course, there’s that beautiful face—the face of a Norse god you’d expect to be carved into ice on the Scandinavian equivalent of Mt. Olympus. Assuming there is such a thing. Lundqvist’s combination of looks and talent is so ridiculously rare—he’s not just beautiful for a hockey player, he’s beautiful for all humans…ever.
Henrik Lundqvist Breakdown
Reputation: Generally well-regarded and respected as one of the best goalies in the NHL, if not the very best. Surely Lundqvist is beloved in his native Sweden, but well-liked enough in New York to transcend his business relationship with Sean Avery.
Net Worth: $35 million
Endorsements: He’s not blowing it away in this department, but he does have deals currently in place with Samsung, Procter & Gamble and Bauer.
Real Estate: In July 2014, Lundqvist put his $6.5 million New York City penthouse up for sale. That came just seven months after singing a monster extension with the Rangers. Presumably he bought another pad in the area, in addition to the offseason residence he maintains in Onsala, Sweden.
Lucky in Love: Lundqvist and his wife, Therese Andersson, have been married since 2011, but the beautiful Scandinavian stunners have actually been together since they began dating shortly after high school in 1998. Therese is currently pregnant with the couple’s second child.
Real Madrid’s superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo tends to rub a lot of people the wrong way with his meticulously manicured eyebrows and excessively golden (to the point where he usually looks sticky) complexion. He’s been known to carry a purse, his hair may very well be a plastic clip-on accessory, and he’s so ridiculously over-groomed you can probably smell his cologne from a mile away.
That being said, Ronaldo is so much more than a pretty face, which is probably the thing his “haters” hate most about him. In January, he won his second consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or award, which is handed out annually to the best footballer in the world. Ronaldo also won the award in 2008, making it three overall before the age of 30.
We’re not just talking about the best player in the world, which he arguably is, we’re also potentially talking about the best player ever. Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, and it doesn't matter whether you love him or hate him, his life literally couldn't get any better.
Cristiano Ronald Breakdown
Reputation: Personally, Ronaldo tends to be a polarizing figure—people usually love him or hate him. Professionally though, there’s simply no questioning his greatness.
Net Worth: $250 million
Real Estate: Ronaldo owns a gloriously sleek, modern mansion in England, which he bought for $6 million in 2006. He also owns a $7.2 mansion in Madrid—although this one might be on the market pretty soon. His homes are impressive, but Ronaldo’s car collection is even more impressive.
Lucky in Love: Suddenly single again, Ronaldo is back on the market for the first time in four years after splitting from ravishing Russian supermodel Irina Shayk in January. Ronaldo, whose past girlfriends include Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Gemma Atkinson, will have no problem finding dates.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul has been ranked among the best point guards in the NBA for years now. In 2015, Forbes listed him as the No. 8 highest-paid player in the league, but no less than three of the players ranked ahead of him are currently out for the duration of the season.
Paul isn’t just one of the greatest point guards in the league, he was also the subject of a potential trade that has left the Lakers wondering what could have been many years after what wasn’t. Paul ended up with the Los Angeles Clippers, not long after he was expected to become a member of the Lakers in 2011.
Ever since, Paul has been a certified superstar.
Chris Paul Breakdown
Reputation: Extremely well-liked, good guy and an obvious family man whom you believed when he told HBO's Real Sports (via Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver) he could retire “a little early” to spend more time with his kids.
Net Worth: $75 million
Endorsements: Among the NBA’s highest-paid players, Paul’s endorsements include State Farm, Nike, Powerade and Upper Deck.
Real Estate: In January 2012, TMZ (h/t Ball Don't Lie's Eric Freeman) reported that CP3 was ready to buy the Bel Air mansion formerly owned by Canadian poptart Avril Lavigne for a cool $8.5 million. This past December, he bought another home in Woodland Hills, this one for $1.775 million.
Lucky In Love: Paul has been married to his beautiful wife, Jada Crawley, since 2011, although the two have actually been together since meeting at Wake Forest in 2003. They have two kids together, and the family always looks ridiculously happy together.
Sidney Crosby has been the de facto face of the NHL since he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005. He's won his share of hardware, including a Stanley Cup, but Crosby is more than just a hockey player; he's handsome, he's won an Olympic Gold for his home country and he's happy to be the face of the franchise in the community.
Crosby started his career with Mario Lemieux as his mentor, which would be like Lebron James starting his career with Michael Jordan as his mentor. Neither player is as great as the "mentor," but there's no better teacher. And as anyone who has ever moved to a place with few friends and many strangers, this goes a long way; it makes a difference.
Crosby dominates the conversation even if he isn't a part of it—his awesomeness is on autopilot. People are arguing for Crosby's greatness even in his absence.
Sidney Crosby Breakdown
Reputation: Love him or hate him—and if you’re not Canadian and/or living in Pittsburgh you almost definitely hate him.
Net Worth: $45 million
Endorsements: In May 2010, Crosby signed a seven-year, $10 million contract with Reebok, which was the richest endorsement deal in the history of the NHL at the time.
Lucky In Love: Crosby is still technically a swinging bachelor, but he and beautiful blonde model Kathy Leutner are thought to have been dating since 2008. Leutner has modeled for retail giants like Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister Co., and in 2011 was featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
At this point, it would be very easy to completely dismiss PGA pro Tiger Woods as nothing more than a second-best has-been. After all, he hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, and his 14 major wins mean that he’s still four behind matching Jack Nicklaus’ 18.
And then there’s Woods' personal life. Although things have long since settled down from his infamous cheating scandal five years ago, and subsequent divorce, it’s hard to imagine he’ll ever completely escape the stigma created by the whole ugly incident.
But here’s the thing: Even if Woods fell short of his own goals, he’s still doing pretty well in the grand scheme of things. Being second best all-time isn’t anything to sneeze at, plus he’s got more than double the net worth of Nicklaus!
Tiger Woods Breakdown
Reputation: Although Tiger Woods has a long history as one of the greatest players in the game, his reputation has always been unfortunately linked with whatever he’s done in the public eye.
Net Worth: $580 million
Endorsements: With Nike as the big headliner, Woods' endorsements totaled $55 million in 2014, according to Forbes.
Lucky in Love: These days, Woods is dating American alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, who recently tallied her 65th overall career win.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will probably always carry the weight of falling to the sixth round in the 2000 NFL draft, but that doesn’t make this guy an underdog—no matter what he says!
It doesn’t matter if he was a little chubby in his youth, as his high school coach implied in an interview with the Daily Mail's Lycia Naff. These days Brady is fit as a fiddle, with movie star good looks to boot. Seriously, that chiseled jawline and irritatingly perfect smile would be more at home in the pages of GQ than on a football field.
This would be much easier to digest if only we were just talking about good looks, though—like how Matt Cassel is beautiful, but it’s fine because he’s not very good at football. Brady isn’t just one of the most attractive athletes...ever...he also happens to be one of the greatest of all time, too.
He’s always going to have more than his share of haters, but four Super Bowls speak louder than all of them combined. Add in the fact that his epic Facebook page actually makes him seem like a really decent human being, and it’s Tom Brady FTW!
Tom Brady Breakdown
Reputation: Beloved in Boston, begrudgingly respected everywhere else.
Net Worth: $440 million (combined)
Endorsements: Fewer than Peyton Manning, but he still has many, like Under Armour, Ugg, Movado and Smartwater. Brady has three more Super Bowls, though, so he’s doing okay.
Real Estate: Brady’s massive Boston mansion was still under construction as of the fall, but who knows how long he’ll hang on to it when it’s finished. He and the Mrs. spent four years building a $40 million Los Angeles mansion from the ground up, then sold it less than a year after completion.
Lucky In Love: From 2004-06, Brady dated actress Bridget Moynahan, with whom he fathered his first child. Within weeks of that breakup, he and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen began dating. The pair have since gotten married and have two children together.
Retired Yankee Derek Jeter is so universally beloved that his final season in 2014 was basically just a national farewell tour, in which The Jeet was celebrated on the road with almost the same level of enthusiasm seen in New York.
In fact, Jeter is (apparently) so revered by the Yankees franchise that general manager Brian Cashman recently said on ESPN Radio (via the New York Daily News, h/t Sports Illustrated) that the team should give up the very idea of captain forever, because No. 2 was "so perfect" in the role.
That’s quite the sentiment, considering Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle are among the plethora of greats to have donned pinstripes. Jeter’s on-field contributions are often overstated, but the love out there for this guy cannot be.
Derek Jeter Breakdown
Reputation: Universally beloved and celebrated nationally.
Net Worth: $185 million
Endorsements: Most of the big boys, including Nike and Gatorade.
Lucky In Love: The Jeet is obviously committed to the bachelor lifestyle, having never been married. But he has had a string of gorgeous girlfriends over the years, each seemingly more stunning than the one before. Currently Jeter is dating model Hannah Davis—the two have been together since 2012.