A Peek at What These Famous Athletes Are up to Since Their Glory Days
| LAST UPDATE 08/09/2022
Some athletes only compete in the limelight for a short time, and some do for decades. But what have your favorite athletes gotten up to since? Keep reading to find out.
Michael Jordan- Basketball
Michael Jordan is arguably one of the most legendary basketball players in the history of the sport. His career records prove it, as he has played in six NBA championships, won 14 MVP awards, 10 scoring titles, and was selected to play in 14 All-Star games.
Jordan has retired three times over in his career, although the third, in 2003, was the final one. He now owns The Hornets and spends time promoting his Air Jordan’s brand. He seems to have switched sports, with his son, Marcus Jordan, saying that his father now plays “36 holes of golf pretty much every day.”
Jackie Joyner-Kersee- Track & Field
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a record-breaking Olympic track and field runner, having won three gold medals over the course of her career, as well as, one silver and two bronze. She was the first American woman to win a gold medal for the long jump, in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
Since retiring in 1998, Jackie has devoted her spare time to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation which she started to provide athletic and academic help to underprivileged youths. In 2007 she helped to form Athletes For Hope, another charitable organization with other famous athletes. What an amazing woman!
Wayne Gretzky- Hockey
Wayne Gretzky is such a legendary figure in ice hockey that there are statues built for him in his home country of Canada. He’s known as “The Great One” in the world of ice hockey, and his talent has been called "otherworldly." He is the only NHL player to ever score 200 points in one season, and he did it four times.
Wayne Gretzky has made tv appearances, including Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. He has partnerships in both hockey and football teams and even opened a wine distillery and restaurant chain in Canada. He has published three books, with the latest, 99: Stories of the Game, being the Canadian bestseller of 2016.
Bo Jackson- Baseball & Football
The only professional sportsman to be named an All-Star athlete in both basketball and baseball, Bo Jackson is certainly a unique and outstanding name in professional sports. ESPN has even named him "the greatest athlete ever." And he’s had a very active professional career since his retirement from sports.
He is a team ambassador for the Chicago White Sox and oversees Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports, a chain of indoor training complexes. He once talked about the importance of a career after professional sports, saying - “after sports the only thing you know is sports, and you can't do anything else with that.”
Carl Lewis- Track & Field
Back in 1990, Carl Lewis was easily the most famous track-and-field athlete in the world. Dubbed “King Carl” by the press and paparazzo, Carl Lewis was vocal and self-confident, and for good reason. He won a staggering nine gold medals during his Olympic career.
Since his retirement, Carl has taken up the mantle of campaigning against doping (aka steroid use) in professional sports. In 2011, he tried to run as a Democrat in the New Jersey senate. He has also dabbled in acting for TV and movies and even released an album under his name.
Magic Johnson- Basketball
Magic Johnson is another record-breaking basketball hero and has a stunning career to back it up. He has played 13 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, leading them to five championships. He is the only player in the history of the NBA to average at least 20 PPG & 12 APG in two seasons.
He retired in 1991, upon discovering he was HIV positive. Since then he has coached the Lakers, hosted his own talk show, started a company worth $700 million, and much much more. Magic has said about the end of his career, “I'm at peace with myself. The main thing is not letting people dictate what I do or what I am.”
Andre Agassi- Tennis
Known by his nickname ‘The Punisher’, it’s no wonder Andre Agassi has had such a formidable career, dominating on the international tennis circuit. He is the only male player to win the ‘Career Super Slam’, i.e. winning four Majors, the Olympic gold, and one title in the ATP Tour World Championships.
Andre Agassi has spent much of his post-retirement career competing at charity events and running his own charity. He also spent a year coaching World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Frequent rival Michael Sampras once said of him, “when Andre’s on, forget it. He does practically everything better than anybody else.”
Scottie Pippen- Basketball
Scottie Pippen holds an inspiring 'rags-to-riches' story in American basketball, coming from poor beginnings to become one of the most celebrated players in the NBA. He played for 17 seasons and won six championships with the Chicago Bulls. He is the only player to win both an NBA title and an Olympic gold medal twice.
Scottie became an ambassador for the Chicago Bulls in 2010. He has also made several films and television cameos. Though he still loves basketball, he stated at the time of his retirement in 2005, "After 17 years, I got all the basketball out of me I possibly could […] There won't be any return for me."
Laila Ali- Boxing
Even though she’s the daughter of Muhammud Ali, one of the greatest athletes in history, Laila Ali has still made a name for herself on her own terms. She is a boxing champion with an impressive record, holding titles as a Super Middleweight champion in the WBC, WIBA, IWBF, and IBA.
She had her final match in 2007, before retiring from the sport. She has kept busy, appearing on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars in 2007 and co-hosting American Gladiators with Hulk Hogan. She produced workout videos with Sugar Ray Leonard, and published her memoir, Reach!: Finding Strength, Spirit, and Personal Power in 2007.
This Brazilian football player has a story now woven into legend. Known by many as the greatest player of all time, Pele was named the joint winner of the FIFA Player Of The Century award, along with Diego Maradona, and named the World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics.
Pele retired officially in 1977. He was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1993, and took the position of Extraordinary Minister for Sport in Brazil, in 1995. In recent times he has made appearances at public events, such as the 2012 Olympic hunger summit and the closing ceremony of the same year.
Mia Hamm- Soccer
Mia Hamm was one of the most phenomenal female soccer players in the world during her sporting career. She won two FIFA Women’s World Cup Championships, two Olympic golds, and was long considered an American icon of the sport. Until 2013 she even held the score for most goals ever scored internationally by a man or woman.
Mia announced her retirement straight after competing in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She is currently a global ambassador for FC Barcelona and became a co-owner of Los Angeles FC in 2014. One of her keys to career success was to “Celebrate what you've accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.”
Usain Bolt- Sprinter
Usain Bolt is one of the most celebrated Olympic athletes of the 21st century, for good reason. He is considered one of the greatest sprint runners of all time and holds world records in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meter relays. He was given the nickname “the Lightning Bolt” during the heights of his success.
He retired in 2017, and now devotes his time to his wife and newborn daughter, Olympia. He no longer sprints, but has taken up cycling, saying “I recently picked up cycling, which is really rough. I have a newfound respect for cyclers.” He has said that he wants to be considered “among greats, like Muhammad Ali and Pelé.”
Charles Barkley- Basketball
Another larger-than-life basketball player, Charles Barkley was known for dominating on the court at only 6’4, which was rather short for his position as a power forward. He won two Olympic gold medals in the US ‘Dream Team’ and was named an NBA All-Star 11 times in his career.
Since retirement, Charles has made a new name for himself as a sports analyst with TNT, as well as guest commentator for CBS and NBC. He has even considered retiring from sports analysis, saying “Seventeen years is a long time. It's a lifetime in broadcasting. I personally have to figure out the next challenge for me."
Greg Louganis- Diver
Greg Louganis is known by some as "The greatest diver in history," an amazing accolade for an impressive career. He has won seventeen gold medals competing in major championships, including the Olympics, World Championships, and Pan American Games, and was endorsed by multiple sports companies.
Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for gay and LGBTQ rights, as well as, being a spokesman for HIV, due to his positive diagnosis, and has done a lot of work with the Human Rights Campaign. He has written an autobiography, Breaking The Surface, which reached number one on the New York Times Bestseller’s List.
George Foreman- Boxing
George Foreman might have one of the most interesting careers on this list. He started as a professional boxer, competing in fights against legendary fellow fighters like Muhammud Ali and Joe Frazier. He was named the heavyweight champion of the world twice and even won an Olympic gold medal.
After his retirement he devoted himself to religion, becoming an ordained minister and reverend. After 10 years he returned to the ring. His second retirement came in 1998. Since then he has had a successful entrepreneurial career from endorsing the George Foreman Grill and has worked as a boxing analyst for HBO.
Marlene Ottey- Track & Field
Over her career Jamaican-Slovenian sprinter Merlene Ottey won a stunning nine Olympic medals, coming to a tie with American runner Allyson Felix for most medals won by a woman in the history of track-and-field. She has also competed in seven Olympic championships, the highest appearances of any track-and-field athlete.
Even today Merlene is still known as the “Queen of the Track”, after competing as a professional athlete for 33 years. Her last Olympic appearance was in 2004. Since 2014 she has emigrated from Slovenia, where she holds citizenship and is now living in Switzerland.
Haile Gebrselassie- Long- Distance Track
Another Olympic stunner, Haile Gebrselassie grew up on a farm in Ethiopia before becoming a celebrated athlete. He still runs with a crooked arm, from years of running ten kilometers between his school and home every day, carrying books. He has two Olympic gold medals and has won prestigious marathons around the world.
He retired from competitive running in 2015, but told the BBC, “I'm retiring from competitive running, not from running. You cannot stop running, this is my life." Since then he has become the president of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, as well as, a spokesperson for Hyundai, and owns a coffee bean farm in Ethiopia.
Caitlyn Jenner (Bruce Jenner)- Track & Field
Bruce Jenner was a darling of the American public through the 70s and 80s, for his success as a decathlete. He was the American decathlon champion of 1974 and won the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. He was called an ‘American Hero’ later saying, "I happened to be the right guy, at that right place, at that right time."
Since retirement Jenner gained newfound fame as the patriarch of the reality tv family the Kardashians. In 2015 Jenner came out as a transgender woman, officially changing her name from Bruce, to Caitlyn. She has acted as a spokeswoman for LGBTQ rights and is considered the most famous transgender person in the world.
Mike Tyson- Boxing
One of the most famous athletes of any sport, and in any century, Mike Tyson is one of the most famous men in the world. Known as “Iron Mike” Tyson, he was the undisputed heavyweight world champion from 1987 to 1990 and was the youngest boxer to ever win a heavyweight title, at just 20 years old.
Though he has had a colorful and controversial career both as a boxer and after his retirement, Mike Tyson has always remained in the spotlight. He has taken various cameo roles in films and television over the years, and even had his own long-running show The Mike Tyson Mysteries, with Adult Swim.
Dennis Rodman- Basketball
This eccentric all-star celebrity athlete has been in the public eye for decades, and in fact, might be one of the few athletes on this list better known for his personal life than his sporting career. He won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award twice and played for five different teams while he was in the NBA.
After leaving the NBA, Dennis Rodman took up professional wrestling with the WCW. Outside of sports, he has appeared in many tv shows, films, and music videos. He appeared as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice twice and has launched his own line of vodka with Premier Brands.
Lebron James- Basketball
A darling of the LA Lakers, Lebron James is one of the few NBA stars who has been compared to all-time great Michael Jordan and is rated as one of the best basketball players of all time. He has played in ten NBA finals, won four championships, four MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals.
Lebron is still thriving in his sporting career, having won the 2020 NBA championships with the Lakers, along with his fourth MVP award. Outside of basketball he has also hosted the ESPY Awards, Saturday Night Live, and runs a charity organization called the LeBron James Family Foundation.
Shaquille O'Neal- Basketball
Shaquille O’Neal, a.k.a. Shaq, is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, as well as one of the tallest, standing at a giant 7ft 1inches. He is one of the few NBA players to ever win the NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP, and Finals MVP awards all within the same year. That’s pretty impressive!
Shaq officially retired in 2011. Since then, he has had a stunningly broad post-sports career, starring in commercials, investing in tech start-ups, hosting TruTv show Upload With Shaquille O’Neal, invested in major companies across the States, and even owns his own Krispy Kreme store. He is also a sports analyst for TNT.
Venus Williams- Tennis
Along with her sister Serena, Venus Williams is one of the most famous female tennis players in the world. She has been ranked as the world No. 1 in both singles and doubles tennis for 19 weeks all up, and has won four Olympic gold medals.
Venus is currently still competing professionally around the world. As of 2018 she has competed in the finals at Wimbledon and entered the US Open that same year. In 2020 she also played the 2020 French Open. She once said, “My ambition is to enjoy life and to do exactly what I want. And I'll do that. I will be free.”
Ian Thorpe- Swimmer
Ian Thorpe is Australia’s beloved professional swimmer, having won five Olympic gold medals and eleven World Championship golds, the third-highest on record. He even competed from a young age, winning the 400-meter freestyle at the 1998 World Aquatic Championships at 14, the youngest Australian swimmer to do so.
Ian Thorpe announced his retirement in 2007, after a bout of bronchitis and glandular fever. He has publicly admitted that leaving professional sports had been difficult, saying that "For some, it's life and death." He has since started his own business, Beon, promoting, and teaching career excellence.
Brett Favre- Football
One of the most famous NFL players in America, former quarterback Brett Favre played for four teams during his time in the NFL and led his teams to five NFL Championship games and two SuperBowl tournaments. He is the only player to win three consecutive NFL MVP awards in his career.
He announced his retirement in 2008, although he returned to the sport for a short burst before again retiring in 2011. He has since coached many young athletes, worked for his charity The Brett Favre Fourward Foundation, and has been a spokesman for a lot of companies including Nike, Sears, Mastercard, and Hyundai.
Monica Seles- Tennis
Monica Seles has one of the most impressive early track records in tennis history. She ranked as the world No 1 at only 17 years old, after winning the French Open at age 16. She would go on to win eight Grand Slams by the age of 20. However, her stunning success would be cut short, after she was attacked on-court in 1993.
Her performance was never the same, and she retired unofficially in 2003. Despite this, she is still regularly ranked as one of the greatest players of all time. Since then she has written an autobiography about her career, titled Getting A Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self, and is a spokesperson for Shire Pharmaceuticals.
Christian Laettner- Basketball
Christian Laettner is best known for his astounding career as a basketball player for the NCAA, playing for the Duke Blue Devils. He competed in the Olympics and also went on to play thirteen seasons in the NBA. He is still known as one of the best college basketball players of all time.
Since his retirement, Christian has been involved with real estate development, worked as a coach for the NBA development league, and has worked for many youth basketball camps. In 2015, an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary called I Hate Christian Laettner was released, detailing the controversies of his early basketball career.
Sergey Bubka- Pole Vaulter
Sergey Bubka is considered the greatest professional pole-vaulter ever recorded, winning numerous world titles and six pole vault World Championships. He broke the men’s world record for pole vault 35 times and held the indoor world record for 21 years and the outdoor world record for 26.
After his retirement in 2001, Sergey has worked with many athletic committees. He has acted as the Senior Vice-President of the IAAF since 2007, and the President of the NOC for Ukraine since 2005. He later said, “I knew that I wanted to be involved in running sport and, in particular, to be involved in the Olympic Movement.”
Nancy Kerrigan- Figure Skating
Nancy Kerrigan has been in the headlines because of renewed interest in her controversial rivalry with figure-skater Tonya Harding. However, Nancy’s career more than speaks for itself, competing successfully in multiple world championships and Winter Olympics, and becoming the US National Figure Skating Champion in 1993.
Nancy retired from competitive skating in 1993, but continued to skate professionally in many different variety shows such as Ice Wars and Broadway On Ice. In recent years she has appeared on the 24th season of Dancing With The Stars and does charity work with The Nancy Kerrigan Foundation.
Simone Biles- Gymnast
In 2019, young American gymnast Simone Biles broke world records as the most decorated gymnast, male or female, in history. This is even more impressive when you realize she is only in her early-20s. It seems Simone’s career is only going to build as she gets older.
She holds 25 gold medals from numerous championships, including four gold medals in the 2016 Olympics. She has been sponsored by Nike, United Airlines, Kellogs, Beats By Dre, and more. In an interview with PopSugar, she said “I would hope I would inspire kids everywhere to know that you can do anything you put your mind to.”