The Smartest Athletes To Ever Make It To The Big Leagues

One stereotype a lot of athletes suffer is that they are not considered book smart. Most people feel the only thing they have to offer is their talent, which is not true. One image that comes to people’s mind when thinking about college athletes is them missing class to work out in the gym.


In truth, there are some scandals like what happened in the NCAA that validates this stereotype, but it’s not true in most cases. In general, most athletes have paid their dues when it comes to their education. It would even surprise you that some athletes are even geniuses.

We’ve compiled a list of some of these athletes, take a look…  Click ‘Next’

Ross Ohlendorf

Born and bred in Texas, Ross Ohlendorf never believed he would reach the heights he did in Major League Basketball. Some of the clubs he played for are the Washington Nationals, the New York Yankees, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 Before he played in MLB, Ross went to Princeton and he was recognized for his talent and subsequently awarded the Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Ross was not just good in sports alone, he also received the George Mueller award for excelling in his academics.

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Craig Breslow

While others dreaded the SAT’s, Craig Breslow was very cool about it without having to worry about anything. The Oakland A’s pitcher scored an amazing 1420 when he wrote his SAT’s and he went on to score 34 when he wrote MCAT. With such a high score in his SAT’s, Yale didn’t think twice before he was given admission while NYU’s School of Medicine did same too with his MCAT score.

For you to have a certificate in the course he studied (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry) you need to be above average, for Craig, it was as easy as drinking a glass of water.

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Ryan Fitzpatrick

Everyone knows you need to have a certain level of smartness to be a good quarterback. When talking about Ryan Fitzpatrick, he towers above his peers when you compare them all with intelligence. When the top score in SAT was 1600, Ryan scored a mouth dropping 1580. He further went on to study Economics at the prestigious Harvard University.

For now, he’s enjoying his game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after spending 13 glorious seasons in NFL.

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Shane Battier

Everyone in NBA love’s Shane Battier. The reason is that he always has a smile on his face and is considered to be a good guy generally. One thing people do not know about the 2001 overall pick is that he graduated with a surprising 3.5 GPA from Duke.

After the draft pick, he became the Naismith College Player of the Year. After a successful and award laden career with the Miami Heats, he announced his retirement in March 2014 and went on to become the Director of Basketball Development and Analytics.

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Chris Nowinski

Nowinksi is a graduate of sociology from Harvard University. One thing Nowinski did that surprised a lot of people was his work on brain injuries and concussions suffered in sports like wrestling and football. Nowinski was once a professional wrestling star in WWE, so he’s witnessed first hand the impact of damage caused by brain injuries and concussions.

A major win for Chris was being able to let NFL’s insurance cover the Lou Gehrig’s disease which was previously not covered.

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Grant Hill

Grant Hill has won the NBA All Stars 7 astounding times. Hill was one of the honor students at Duke, where he got a degree in history. Blue Devil fans will never forget the feat he achieved between 1991 – 1992 season where he helped them to consecutive titles. In some quarters, some believe Grant’s name should be mentioned with the legends of NBA.

An unfortunate knee injury never allowed his career to take off the way he wanted. Now, he spends a lot of time doing charitable deeds and he is also an art collector.

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George Parros

Parros was a student of Princeton where he studied Economics before he hit the ice. Reputed for his signature mustache, Goerge was an outstanding student in school as his grades were among the best in his class.

Thanks to this fact, while George was still in school, he was part of the Chicago Board of Trade, a feat that was unheard of during his time.

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Heath Shuler

Most people remember Heath Schuler as a congressman of North Carolina, only some NFL fans will remember he was once a quarter back who played for the Washington Redskins in 1994. After enjoying a successful career in the NFL, he retired and returned to the classroom to get a degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee.

As if that was not enough, he still had a successful career in real estate before his foray into politics.

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Jamal Mashburn

Although Mashburn’s SAT scores were not part of the highest like his peers on this list, Jamal still did the extraordinary by leveraging on the massive income he earned while playing basketball to create a successful business empire.

When you begin counting the number of franchises Mashburn owns, you won’t help but be surprised. The last time we checked, he had about thirty seven Papa John’s and thirty four Outback Steakhouses to mention a few of his businesses.

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Matt Birk

Talking about people with high ACT scores, Mark is one of them scoring a surprising 34 when you consider the average score for ACT to be 20.8. With brains like this, it was no surprise when Harvard accepted him to study Economics.

According to Sporting News in 2006, he was ranked the sixth smartest athlete in the game. Some of the clubs he played for are the Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings until he called it quits with the sport in 2002.

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Chris Young

A graduate of Economics from Princeton University, Chris was considered an all round athlete. So it did not come as a surprise to anyone when he came out tops in the sports he played, both baseball and basketball.

When he joined Major League Basketball, he started as a pitcher with Kansas City Royals and he went on to win the World Series Championship with them in 2015. After what we term to be a successful career, he retired in 2017.

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Brad Ausmus

When Brad was younger, he dreamt of going to Law school to achieve his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. As fate would have it, he ended up attending Dartmouth where he studied history. He also enjoyed a successful baseball career which spanned a surprising 20 years.

When he retired, he didn’t just sit at home to enjoy his retirement; instead, he joined MLB where he held several positions one of which he still holds to date.

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Alex Smith

Some may question Alex Smith’s skills as a quarterback, one thing that cannot question is his intelligence. A graduate from the University of Utah, Alex did the unthinkable when he graduated in 2 years with a GPA of 3.74.

At a time in his life, Smith wanted to study law, but as fate would have it, he ended up playing in the NFL when he started his master’s degree program.

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Steve Nash

The name Steve Nash does not need introduction in the NBA. After spending a glorious 18 season in the league, Nash amassed a surprising number of titles and awards to cap a glorious career. While he was studying at Santa Clara University, Steve single handedly carried his entire team to the NCAA Tournament.

His interests were not limited to basketball alone as he had interests in the film industry. Steve directed Training day, a Nike commercial and a documentary titled Into the Wind.

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Pau Gasol

While studying in the School of Medicine at the University of Barcelona, Pau Gasol still felt unfulfilled until he left for the NBA. This was a decision he would come to enjoy as he succeeded beyond his imaginations in the NBA. He was selected as a six time NBA all star to mention some of the awards he amassed during his sojourn in the NBA.

The Dean of his school was so impressed that he told Paul that he could come back to school when he hangs his boot.

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Michael Doleac

Just like most of his colleagues on this list, Michael Doleac had dreams of becoming a doctor but later realized he was destined to join the NBA. After spending about 10 glorious seasons in the NBA, Doleac knew it was time to move on.

He didn’t hesitate to go back to school after retiring as he knew he could still be of help to the society with his skills. He went back to the University of Utah, but this time he switched to physics instead of Medicine.

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Douglas Murray

Murray attended Cornel where he studied Hotel administration and graduated with honours. One thing that surprises people is the number of languages Douglas Murray speaks fluently. Apart from his native English, Murray speaks both Swedish and German with ease.

Murray also has a flair for entrepreneurship as he owns several successful businesses. One of the companies he owns makes keg taps that are spout free.

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Dhani Jones

The name Dhani Jones needs no introduction in the NFL, why because, for eleven incredible seasons, Dhani dazzled everyone in the NFL with his brilliance before he called it quits with the sport. After retiring, he went on to create several start ups and business ventures, one of which is a TV show aired by The Travel Channel.

The show was called Dhani Tackles the Globe, and it has been successful so far. Another business Dhani owns sells exquisite bow ties for men.

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Robert Smith

You might think that after leaving medical school for the NFL, Robert Smith would never return. But that was not the case as he returned to his first passion upon retiring from the NFL. After spending about 8 successful years at the NFL, Robert knew his time was up in the game, and he needed to do something else.

His sojourn in the NFL was also filled with several awards, both individually as a player and collectively as a team.

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Tim Green

On the surface, Tim Green would not strike you as someone who writes books. He has authored quite a number of books to the surprise of his teeming fans. On record, he has 16 books to his name and a work of his is titled “Football Genius” which became a bestseller in New York Times.

Before he started writing, Tim Green played as a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons.

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Jerry Kramer

Kramer is another famous author on this list who was formerly a big league athlete. One of his works is a book titled Instant Replay which he co authored. The book is considered by fans and critics alike as an all round book that talks about all things football.

The contents of the book include stories and details of Green Bay Packer. It was a life Jerry Kramer go to experience first hand when he was a right guard.

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Jim Bouton

Writing about their experience during their sporting career is something some athletes look forward to after retiring. Jim Bouton did not hesitate to talk about the time he spent with the Houston Astros and the Seattle Pilots.

The book didn’t do too well commercially due to several reasons, but it got rave reviews for being realistic and for showing people how professional athletes live.

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Byron White

The Whizzr as he’s popularly known by most of his fans was a very popular figure in the NFL. As talented as he was on the field, Byron was equally gifted in school also. At no point in time did he neglect his studies for football, yet he was still able to excel in both without problems. To show how good Byron White was, he earned the title Rhodes Scholar.

After his studies, Byron joined the Navy and served in the capacity of an intelligence officer. For 31 years, Byron reigned as a Justice of the US Supreme court.

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Alan Page

As early as 1988, Page was inducted into NFL’s Hall of Fame. Seeing he had conquered the NFL, Alan knew it was time to move on, so he went back to the University of Minnesota to study law.

After getting his degree, Alan decided to put his certificate to good use and he became the assistant attorney general of Minnesota until he had to retire when he got to the age of 70.

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Ken Dryden

At first, Ken Dryden had aspirations to go to law school from the onset, but that was not to be when he got admission to Cornell University. Ken earned a degree in History while he was there but realized his true passion was law. Not wanting to be deterred, Dryden decided to study law at McGill University. Presently, he’s serving in the parliament in Canada.

On the other hand, his sports career was also a success as he’s known for his prolific skills in the NHL.

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Sid Luckman

Luckman was a graduate of Columbia University. Lukman was bred on the streets of New York where he learned how to play both football and baseball. He was also part of his high school’s football and baseball teams.

At no point in time did Sid have the intention of playing either football of baseball professionally, but he was convinced by a coach and the rest as they say is history.

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Gary Fencik

Fencik was a Yale graduate, and he was part of the football team there. They helped him launch his career as an amateur quarterback, and he was able to join the NFL from there. For 12 years, Gary Fencik played for the Chicago Bears, and he currently holds the record for most interceptions and tackles.

His education did not go to waste as he studied further, and he got a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.

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Joe Nieuwendyk

The Canadian former NHL player was a graduate of Cornell University where he started his hockey career. Surprisingly, Joe played in the NHL for 20 seasons for various teams like Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Flames, and the New Jersey Devils. Joe was so good that he represented his country in the Olympics and he won them a gold medal in 2002.

Due to his heroics on ice, Joe was inducted into the hall of fame of Ontario sports. Now, he’s a General Manager at Dallas Stars.

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Pat Haden

Born in Westbury, in the state of New York, Pat Haden was also a Rhodes Scholar like Byron White. Hayden’s school career took off on a high note and he left as one of the best to join USC Trojan, there he became one their Most Valuable Players.

His career in the World Football League was fruitful and diverse, and he retired to become a presenter at CBS for some years. After practicing as an attorney for some time, he was made the Trojan’s Athletic Director.

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Jim O’Rourke

James O’Rourke is considered one of the baseball greats as he was inducted into baseball’s hall of fame. Due to the intelligence he displays while playing on the field, he was nicknamed Orator Jim. Jim’s career was very successful as he played in both the minor leagues and the major leagues.

He was also known for his activism which led him to achieve great things for the African American community. When Jim played his final game, he made history as the fifty fourth oldest baseball player to grace the minor leagues.

 That Was The Last One! Check These Cool Stories Below!


The Smartest Athletes To Ever Make It To The Big Leagues

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