20 Cities That Produce the Most Superstars

Amber Lee@@BlamberrSports Lists Lead WriterJune 16, 2015

20 Cities That Produce the Most Superstars

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Legends are born when someone does something extraordinary—and the story is told over and over. Few legends, however, survive from one generation to another without a place that make the person and feat relevant. It’s no coincidence that some of our greatest legends were born in an extraordinary moment in time when an athlete, or when a team (or both), forever changed a place—for better or worse.

    Championships are won and records are broken in places where thousands have gathered; in stadiums and arenas; or vicariously through television and radio. A star athlete’s hometown is as deeply connected to their identity as the city where their number is retired following a Hall of Fame career, because that’s where the legend was born—where family, friends and a community watched the first chapter get written.

    Every city or town is a place where someone turned heads on the blacktop, before dropping jaws in the tournament; people want to know what it looks like when an Olympian comes from “nowhere.” Where is just as important as who, because where something happened endures far longer than who did it. And nothing is more fascinating that learning about how different places have given us some of the best and most compelling men and women in sports.

    With that in mind, here are 20 of the cities in North America that produce the most superstar talent in sports.

Hampton Roads, Virginia

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    REED SAXON/Associated Press

    The area known as Hampton Roads, Virginia, encompasses a major metropolitan area in the Southeast, which includes various moderately sized cities such as Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Newport News. There are a fair number of athletes that call somewhere within Hampton Roads home.

    Athletes from Hampton Roads: 

Miami, Florida

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    Associated Press

    Must be something in that crystal clear majestic Miami water, because of how many great athletes, both current and future Hall-of-Famers, hail from the Miami metro area. Just because fans aren’t known to be especially diehard down there, doesn’t mean they aren’t still churning out talent.

    Athletes from Miami:

Boston, Massachusetts

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    Boston isn’t just one of the most historic and pivotal cities in American history, it also has one of the strongest sports traditions in the country. Granted, how hard is it these days to be committed to sports when a team from your city is winning a championship every other year—at worst. That being said, it seems more athletes come to Boston to play than are birthed there.

    Athletes from Boston:

Montreal, Canada

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    Image Source/Charles Knox/Associated Press

    It should come as no surprise that Montreal has produced some of the greatest hockey players in NHL history, both past and present. Their list of Hall of Fame players will only continue to grow as each year passes.

    Athletes from Montreal: 

Washington D.C. & Baltimore, Maryland

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    Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

    Sure Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are only about 40 miles apart, but anyone who has lived in the metro area of either city knows that the distance between them feels far more substantial. Maybe it’s because if there is even the slightest bit of traffic, it’s no less than a 90-minute commute—and that on a good day. Nonetheless, geographically they’re close enough to combine.

    Athletes from Baltimore & Washington

New Orleans, Louisiana

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    Who knows how they breed them down in the Bayou, but New Orleans has definitely produced some very impressive sports talent to date. Although most aren’t in their respective Hall of Fames yet, many will be first ballot options when the time comes.

    Athletes from New Orleans:

Mobile, Alabama

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    With a population today easily under 200,000, Mobile has produced a very impressive handful of superstar athletes over the years. And just 60 miles away is Pensacola, Florida, which calls greats like Emmitt Smith and Derrick Brooks its own. That being said, when it comes to this tiny city in Southwest Alabama, it’s more about quality than quantity.

    Athletes from Mobile:

Dallas & Ft. Worth, Texas

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    The Cowboys might be the biggest show in town down in Dallas, but the city itself isn’t necessarily known for producing exclusively top-notch football talent. They seem to spread the wealth in Big D, with superstars from a number of sports calling the city home.

    Athletes from Dallas:

Houston, Texas

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    You never know what you’re going to get in Houston, in terms of high profile athletes now and then. Although there are more NFL players who hail from Houston than Dallas, there are people from all over the sports world reppin’ Texas’ biggest city.

    Athletes from Houston:

Akron & Cleveland, Ohio

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    Hopefully this doesn’t ruffle any feathers, because Akron and Cleveland obviously aren’t the same place, but they’re less than 40 miles away. But a half hour drive, speeding with no traffic, down I-77 and you’re there. So for the purposes of this list, they’re close enough to be considered the same metro area in Northeast Ohio.

    And with a combined population of approximately 600,000, Clevekron (Akland?) has produced a very impressive number of sports stars over the years.

Stephen Curry & LeBron James, NBA Players

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    It’s hard to believe, but the MVP superstars of both of the 2015 NBA Finals teams are both from Akron, Ohio—LeBron James of the Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. No matter who wins this series, they’ll have a combined three championships between them and, with no doubt, more to come. These two future Hall-of-Famers are the pride of the Buckeye State—even if they didn’t go to Ohio State.

    Additional athletes from Akron/Cleveland :

San Diego, California

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    The first of three California metro areas on this list, well over a dozen sports greats have hailed from San Diego, both past and present. Considering that laid back SoCal vibe the city is known for, some of the list will come as no surprise whatsoever.

Phil Mickelson, PGA

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    He may have been, at times, overshadowed by Tiger Woods, but American golf great Phil Mickelson has done pretty well for himself over his illustrious career. With 42 PGA wins, which includes five majors, not only is Mick one of the most accomplished golfers in the sport’s history, he’s also right along Woods among the world’s highest paid athletes most years.

    Additional athletes from San Diego: 

Chicago, Illinois

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    Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and growing, which means that basic odds indicate a fair number of sports stars, past and present, call the Windy City home. Maybe it’s all that sausage or deep-dish pizza, but Chicago definitely has produced an awful lot of big names in the sports world—particularly football and basketball stars.

Dwyane Wade, NBA Player

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    Although his career is clearly on the decline, with the aging Dwyane Wade demanding just a smidgen more than he’s worth from the Heat this summer, the three-time NBA champion is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of the last decade. Having been named an All-Star every season since 2005, Wade is still as popular among fans as ever and is a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.

    Additional athletes from Chicago:

Chris Chelios, NHL Hall of Fame

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    JERRY S. MENDOZA/Associated Press

    Having retired following the 2009-10 season, Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios is tied with the legendary Gordie Howe for the most seasons ever played at 26. He played the second half of his career predominantly with the Detroit Red Wings, where he currently serves as an executive advisor to the team’s general manager.

    Additional athletes from Chicago:

San Francisco & Oakland, California

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    Hopefully this one isn’t too controversial, since San Francisco and Oakland are often lumped into a geographical area known as the Bay Area. Although San Francisco boasts approximately double the population of its across the Bay Bridge neighbors, combined with Oakland, over 1.2 million people call the immediate metro area home—that’s in addition to the surrounding suburbs.

    Considering the immense population advantage the Los Angeles metro area has over the Bay Area, San Francisco and Oakland aren’t lagging far behind in the overall sports talent.

Joe DiMaggio, MLB Hall of Fame

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    Associated Press

    One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Joe DiMaggio played his entire prolific Hall of Fame career in pinstripes. Known as “The Yankee Clipper,” DiMaggio’s name may be synonymous with the New York Yankees, but he was born, raised, and spent most of his offseasons across the country in California.According to Don Russo, an old friend, DiMaggio “never thought of himself as anything but pure San Francisco.”

    Additional athletes from the Bay Area:

Tom Brady, NFL Player

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    Despite being drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady is anything but the underdog his draft status coming out of Michigan may lead you to believe. Brady is right there with Joe Montana, and may have even surpassed him, in terms of the greatest NFL QBs of all time.

    Additional athletes from the Bay Area:

New York City, New York

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    Image Source/ALAN SCHEIN/Associated Press

    New York City is easily the most heavily populated city in the country, and it’s not even close—it bests Los Angeles by four million easy. It should come as no surprise that the Big Apple is a goldmine of sports talent. Although this list only takes into account those who were born in NYC, just imagine how much longer it would be if it included all the Hall of Fame superstars who played there over the last century or so.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA Hall of Fame

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    Associated Press

    NBA Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played the bulk of his career in Los Angeles, where he won five of the six championships of his career with the Lakers. And although he played college basketball at UCLA, Kareem was actually born and raised across the country in New York City.

    Additional athletes from New York City:

Coach Vince Lombardi, NFL Hall of Fame

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    Associated Press

    The legendary Vince Lombardi became the legend we know him as today while coaching the Packers in the 60s. He won five of his six championships in Green Bay; Lombardi’s decade was so dominant that the NFL’s Super Bowl trophy bears his name, and has since his sudden death from cancer in 1970.

    Additional athletes from New York City:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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    Considering the 2012 U.S. Census revealed Pittsburgh to be No. 61 nationally in terms of population, with cities like Omaha, Milwaukee, and Wichita all ranked above the Steel City, the number of sports superstars the Southwestern Pennsylvania region has produced is proportionally staggering to that of the other cities topping this list.

Joe Namath, NFL Hall of Fame

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    NFL Hall of Fame quarterback "Broadway Joe" Namath played his college ball at Alabama and today remains the only QB to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl. But before he was the coolest guy in any room, Namath was just "Joe Willie" of Beaver Falls, an area just 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. 

    Additional athletes from Pittsburgh:

Joe Montana & Dan Marino, NFL Hall of Fame

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    Doug Jennings/Associated Press

    Dan Marino and Joe Montana are two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time—although Montana accounts for all four Super Bowls the two combined for over the course of their respective careers—both of whom were churned out of the longtime QB factory known as Southwestern Pennsylvania.

    Marino is from Pittsburgh proper and played college ball locally at Pitt, while Montana hails from a town about 30 miles south of the Steel City and went to Notre Dame. Obviously both are enshrined at the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

    Additional athletes from Pittsburgh:

Los Angeles, California

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    Keep in mind that Los Angeles isn’t the condensed and easily defined urban area as, for instance, New York is. California is massive, and the SoCal is sprawling and expansive. While in other states places like Santa Monica, Long Beach, Anaheim and Newport Beach may be considered cities in and among themselves, for the purpose of this list, they are considered part of L.A.

    Breaking them down into their own cities wouldn’t properly represent the sports talent coming out of the area, but failing to explain that wouldn’t convey the fact that we understand these are, in fact, not a part of Los Angeles proper.

Tony Gwynn, MLB Hall of Fame

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    Tony Gwynn/Associated Press

    Tony Gwynn was just 54 when he passed away in 2014 after a four-year battle with cancer and just seven years after his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. When “Mr. Padre” retired in 2001, the right-fielder left the game as one of the game’s greatest hitters and quintessential ball-players. Gwynn was a 15-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner; posting a batting average of .300 or better for 19 consecutive seasons.

    Additional athletes from Los Angeles:

Reggie Miller, NBA Hall of Fame

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    Any basketball fan with a pulse knows why Reggie Miller’s induction into the NBA Hall of Fame was the source of handwringing among some in the media and among many on message boards. The former UCLA Bruin and Indiana Pacer was simply one of the most hated shooting guards (if not the most hated) during the 90s—the trash-talking Miller relished his role as the annual foil for the New York Knicks and their tortured fans.

    Additional athletes from Los Angeles: