We're used to watching them slam dunk and score three-pointers. But when they're not busy dominating the courts, how do our favorite athletes really measure up? From NBA stars to Olympic medalists, here are some of the tallest athletes to date.
Shaquille O’Neal: 7'1" (2.16m)
He might be the man of many nicknames, but he's also the man of many inches. The Big Shaqtus has been towering over - and dominating, of course - the courts ever since making his NBA debut back in 1992. But how tall is he really?
Clocking in at 7'1", Shaq is one of the most memorable ball players to ever go-pro. From his all-star title to his infamous slam dunks, the 49-year-old basketball star has left some pretty big shoes to fill. And we're not just talking about his size 22 feet... But there's more where that came from. Keep scrolling.
Shawn Bradley: 7'6" (2.29m)
Sure, Shawn Bradley was once impossible to miss on the courts. But the truth is that the former NBA star was never one to fit in. "When I was 9 months old, people thought I was 3 years old," he joked of his striking height. "I've always been different, but I would not change [it for] the world."
How "different" are we talking? Standing at about 7'6", the pro-athlete was once one of the tallest basketball players in NBA history. And while his massive build places him in the 99.99999% for height, according to The College of Life Sciences, he's 100% one of the most memorable ballers to date.
Hong-Man Choi: 7'2" (2.18m)
With a nickname like "Korean Colossus," Hong-Man Choi is not one to mess with. The South Korean MMA fighter has been a force to be reckoned with ever since joining the rings back in 2005. "He is dangerous, his knees are already almost at the level of my head - he's not human," former kickboxing rival, Jérôme Le Banner, joked.
But don't let his intimidating 7'2" build fool ya: "He's a good guy, and I like him," Le Banner assured. "He's very tough, maybe the strongest guy in K-1." When he's not busy dominating the rings, though, Choi can be found singing as part of the music duo, Beauty & The Beast, alongside supermodel Kang Soo Hee. (Punny, huh?)
Yao Ming: 7'6" (2.29m)
He might hail all the way from China, but he's been dominating the States for quite some time. The former NBA star landed a spot in the history books after signing with the Houston Rockets back in '02. Not only was Ming the first international player to be selected first overall, but he did so at a whopping 7'6".
Sure enough, his time on the courts was nothing short of legendary. From his induction into the NBA's Hall of Fame to his ESPN autobiography, he might have retired in 2011, but Ming's time on American soil is bound to live on forever. Just like our next athlete...
Maria Sharapova: 6'2" (1.88m)
Maria Sharapova was always destined to be at the top - and we're not just talking about her impressive height. Back in the day, when the young girl picked up a tennis racket out of sheer boredom, it only took a few minutes to wow spectators - including former mentor Yuri Yutki.
Fast forward to today, and the 6'2" Russian athlete's time in Wimbledon has been one for the books - including her win against Serena Williams at just 17-year-old. "One of the keys to my success was that I never looked, back and I never looked forward," Sharapova reflected.
Morteza Mehrzad: 8'1" (2.46m)
Sure, there's Naomi Osaka; Kevin Durant; Simone Biles. But we're actually here to talk about another star who dominated this year's Tokyo Olympics: Meet Morteza Mehrzad, otherwise known as the world's tallest athlete. The Iranian Paralympian was the star to watch out for at this year's Paralympics - literally.
Standing at 8'1", even when the volleyball player is seated, he's equally as intimidating. With his right arm able to reach heights of 6'3", Morteza Mehrzad helped lead his country to victory in prior Games. And with his height allegedly still growing? We'd keep an eye out for this superstar.
Ivo Karlovic: 6'11" (2.11m)
Granted, his height might not measure up to Shaq's or Shawn Bradley's. But how many tennis stars do we know clocking in right under 7 feet? Perhaps that's why it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Ivo Karlovic currently ranks as one of the world's tallest players to ever take on Wimbledon.
The Croatian pro-athlete stands at about 6'11". But if by some chance his height doesn't precede him? Don't worry, he'll be happy to remind you. "6'11" Tennis player!" his Twitter bio proudly reads. And given his title as one of the fastest tennis servers? We'd say he's certainly put his stature to good use.
Sun MingMing: 7'9" (2.36m)
It's not easy making "The Rock" look, well, like a pebble. But leave it to Sun MingMing to do exactly that. The Chinese athlete not only holds a spot in the Guinness World Records for the tallest pro-basketball player, but even left Dwayne Johnson doing a double-take.
Not that we blame him. After all, with a height of 7'9", the former basketball star is truly a sight to be seen. During his time on the courts, the retired athlete was, no doubt, an unmatched competitor. With his large build and even larger spirit, the retired legend will forever hold a spot among sports' greats.
Manute Bol: 7'7" (2.31m)
Manute Bol might have morphed into one of the most respected NBA players to date, but he never forgot where he came from. Despite his thriving career as a basketball star, the Sudanese athlete spent his highly decorated career giving back to his home country.
Unfortunately, his charitable endeavors came to a sudden halt in 2010 after his tragic passing. Nonetheless, from his reign as one of the best shot-blockers to his philanthropic Ring True Foundation, Manute Bol's name will forever be synonymous with NBA legends.
Margo Dydek: 7'2" (2.18m)
She may not have ever wanted a career in basketball, but that path was practically planned out for her. Standing at a whopping 7'2", the late Polish athlete was as impressive on the courts as she was off of them. "I can't live without basketball," she confessed before her untimely passing.
After joining the WNBA family in 1998 as a first overall pick, Margo Dydek never ceased to amaze spectators and competitors alike. To put it simply: She was unstoppable. "Everyone that knew her knows how special she truly was," fellow WNBA star Candace Parker reflected.
Lisa Leslie: 6'5" (1.96m)
Let's start with the obvious: Lisa Leslie is tall. Very tall. But perhaps more undeniable than her impressive stature? "Basketball chose me," the former WNBA star confessed. From her towering build to her dunking skills, it's no surprise the athlete went on to become the face of the WNBA.
Growing up, Leslie reached the 6-foot mark by middle school. By high-school? The 6'5" athlete went on to score a massive 101 points in a local game - and that was just in the first half. Today, the skilled star has expanded her reign to other audiences - including podcasting and coaching.
Tacko Fall: 7'5" (2.26m)
Tacko Fall might have secured an army of fans upon making his NBA debut, but he's just as admirable outside the arena. Not only did the Senegal star pick up English in just 8 months after moving to the States, but he did so with a 4.0 GPA at Liberty Christian Prep.
And while the baller's time in the NBA is still relatively new, it's only up from here - and we're not just talking about his 7'5" stature. "Honestly, I'm already living my dream," Fall shared. "I've made it so far from where I started. All the opportunities that have come my way, I'm just thankful for them."
Sim Bhullar: 7'5" (2.26m)
Forget Drake: our next star also hails from the 6 and is even harder to miss than our certified lover boy - literally. Standing at about 7'5" the Canadian athlete caught the attention of coaches when he was just 8-years-old. Since then? His time on the courts has been one for the books.
After coming to the States at just 16-years-old, the Indian-Canadian basketball star went on to make history years later: in 2016, Bhullar became the first Indian player in the history of the NBA to be drafted. Safe to say, the Sacramento Kings baller certainly made his home country proud.
Loek van Mil: 7'1" (2.16m)
7'1" is tall by all standards. But when it comes to baseball? It's practically unheard of. Sure enough, Loek van Mil's towering build was exactly what made him the recognizable legend that he was. Before his tragic passing in 2019, the late Dutch pitcher made the Netherlands proud with his thriving career.
From signing with Japan to his brief time with the Minnesota Twins, the decorated athlete's time on the field brought him all around the globe. "The KNBSB is very grateful to Mil for what he has done in his career for Dutch baseball," the organization reflected.
Brittney Griner: 6'9" (2.06m)
For Brittney Griner, the world has always looked different. And with good reason. At just 15, she was able to palm a basketball. At 18, she was already clocking in at 6'7". Today? "It's kind of like being on display at a museum, like being on display 24/7."
Standing at about 6'9", the basketball star might have the makings of an athlete, but her journey to the WNBA was anything but easy. "When I first started playing basketball, my coordination was horrible," Griner confessed. Since then, the skilled baller has turned her height - once a brutal setback - into an advantage.
Lindsay Taylor: 6'8" (2.03m)
She may have the height, but Lindsay Taylor never planned on playing ball. In fact, back in the day, the California native had her sights set completely elsewhere: Her school's marching band. Sure enough, after a push in the right (?) direction from her friends, she eventually found her way onto the courts.
And it's been smooth sailing ever since. "It must have been in my blood. I picked it up naturally," Taylor recalled. Ever since making her WNBA debut back in 2004, the star's undeniable stats - including her impressive 6'8" height - have earned her admirers around the globe. And we can see why.
Gheorghe Mureșan: 7'7" (2.31m)
One quick glance at that photo, and we'd never know Gheorghe Mureșan's mom and dad stand at just 5'7" and 5'9", respectively. But that's exactly what makes the NBA star so remarkable. After a rare medical condition saw him grow at alarming rates, the Romanian athlete learned to use his height to his advantage.
After wowing audiences overseas, the basketball star began a thriving career in the NBA. And he was exactly as unstoppable as one would expect a 7'7" athlete to be. Unfortunately, all of that changed in 2000, after an injury forced him to say bye to the courts. Nonetheless, his mark in the NBA will never be forgotten.
Liz Cambage: 6'8" (2.03m)
6 foot-tall 10-year-olds aren't something we see every day. But when it comes to Elizabeth "Liz" Cambage? That's exactly what her childhood looked like, and it wasn't long before the teasing and name-calling followed. In fact, that's exactly what led her to entertain a hobby playing basketball.
But that's not where her story ends. After Liz's mother suggested she play ball as a way to make friends, her newfound hobby soon morphed into an impressive career. By 2018, the WNBA star broke records with her 53-Point Performance against New York Liberty. And from the looks of it? She's not slowing down anytime soon.
Mamadou N’Diaye: 7'6" (2.29m)
From the moment he stepped foot inside a Dakar gymnasium for a quick pick-up game back in 2010, Mamadou N'Diaye was destined to make a name for himself. Sure enough, after catching the eyes of the then-assistant coach for the UC Irvine Anteaters men's basketball, that's exactly what happened.
After agreeing to travel to the States to embark on a basketball career, the Senegalese athlete eventually found his way into the NBA. By 2016, N'Diaye joined the Golden State Warriors for the Summer League. Since then, he's bounced around from local teams like the Detroit Pistons to Mexicos' Correcaminos.
Randy Johnson: 6'10" (2.08m)
He may have struggled during his early career, but make no mistake about it: Randy Johnson's time in the MLB had him striking out in more ways than one. After joining the Major League back in 1988, it wasn't long before the world knew his name. And with good reason.
From his intimidating 6'10" height to his incredible fastball, "the Big Unit" still holds the title as one of the greatest pitchers to this very day. In fact, he was only one of a handful of pitchers to be inducted into the Hall of Fame - not to mention the tallest one at the time, of course.
Nelly Alisheva: 6'10" (2.08m)
Hailing all the way from Russia, Nelly Alisheva has left some pretty big shoes to fill. But forget her size 17 feet (EU 50) for a second. The former pro-athlete was once the star of Russia's volleyball team. But that's not the only place she's since made her mark.
Standing at about 6'10", the retired volleyball player was labeled the Guinness Book of Records' Tallest Woman in Russia back in 2013. And while her impressive stature almost always has her standing out in a crowd, she wouldn't want it any other way. "I enjoy being tall," Alisheva assured.
Maria Stepanova: 6'7" (2.03m)
Not to be confused with Maria Sharapova, Maria Stepanova was once a legend on the basketball courts. Not only was the Russian athlete one of the tallest players in the league, but the WNBA star was as intimidating as they came - and it earned her the nickname, "The Russian Rejector."
From her time in the 2004 Summer Olympics - which saw her walk home with bronze - to her FIBA Player of the Year awards, the basketball wiz certainly lived up to her name. And while she's since said goodbye to the hardwood to raise a family, the 6'7" star certainly made her mark.
Andre the Giant: 7'4" (2.24m)
We've seen lots of memorable faces enter the ring over the years. But if there's one wrestler who stands out from the rest (literally)? It's none other than André René Roussimoff, otherwise known as "Andre the Giant." After all, there truly was no one like him.
Standing at 7'4" and weighing over 500 pounds, the athlete was truly a force to be reckoned with. In fact, anyone brave enough to get inside the ring with him quickly learned the hard way why he was dubbed "The 8th Wonder of the World." But as big as he was, the late wrestler's height was still no match to his larger-than-life persona.
Suleiman Ali Nashnush: 8'0" (2.45m)
Of course, 7'0" is impressive. 7'0"+ is even more striking. But 8'0"? That's a feat only a handful of people in the world have managed to accomplish. Look no further than Suleiman Ali Nashnush, a late Libyan basketball player who was as remarkable as he sounds.
Born in 1943, the former athlete was the star of his country's national basketball team in the 1960s. Unfortunately, his fascinating life reached an untimely end in 1991, after Ali Nashnush passed away from an apparent heart attack. Safe to say, the star's legacy is bound to live on forever.
Erika Ervin: 6'8" (2.03m)
Look familiar? We've kept up with Erika Ervin ever since she made her way onto our TV screens back in 2014. But she wasn't slamming dunks on ESPN or playing tennis in Wimbledon. Instead, the strikingly tall star - nicknamed "Amazon Eve" - was busy starring on American Horror Story: Freakshow.
After making a name for herself over in Hollywood, the 6'8" actress decided to embark on a new endeavor. Today, the star tours the country as a thriving fitness trainer. But above all else? She hopes to use her voice for the greater good. "It's beautiful that we get to share these differences on screen," Ervin explained.
Aleksey Kazakov: 7'2" (2.18m)
At this point, we've already seen our fair share of tall ballers. But how about outside of the hardwood? Standing at 7'2", Aleksey Kazakov just about measures up to basketball greats such as Shaq and Shawn Bradley - but his time as an athlete went down very differently.
Unlike the NBA stars, this Russian athlete was actually a pro-volleyball player. And given his massive stature, you can bet he made for one intimidating competitor. Not only did Kazakov walk home with bronze at the 2004 Olympic Games, but he was also one of the tallest athletes to ever do so.
Nikolai Valuev: 7'0" (2.13m)
With his great-grandfather said to have been "of mountainous proportions," perhaps it's no surprise Nikolai Valuev went on to earn the nickname "The Russian Giant." Clocking in at about 7'0", the former pro-boxing champion was truly a sight to behold.
Not only did he manage to hold the WBA heavyweight title twice, but Valuev made his boxing opponents look like Flyweight. And while his infamous loss to David Haye in '09 eventually led to his decision to retire, the Russian warrior is certainly not one to overlook.
Ekaterina Lisina: 6'9" (2.06m)
Given her then-Guinness World Record for the Woman With the Longest Legs, perhaps it's no surprise Ekaterina Lisina decided to try her luck on the courts. Sure enough, after making her professional basketball debut back in 2006, the Russian athlete was unstoppable.
From bringing home bronze for her country during the 2008 Summer Olympics to securing an almost 10-year pro-basketball career, Lisina has done it all. In fact, since retiring in 2014, the athlete has embraced an equally thriving modeling career. Is there anything she can't do?
Usain Bolt: 6'5" (1.95m)
If there's perhaps one thing faster than Usain Bolt? It's the speed at which rumors once spread about his striking height. The Olympic sprinter stands at a whopping 6'5" - something that was once believed to be a disadvantage to runners such as himself. Safe to say, Bolt instantly shut that myth down.
From his seemingly endless Olympic wins to breaking world records in the process, the Jamaican track-star has cemented his reign as "the fastest man alive." Despite his large stature, he's managed to stay 10 steps ahead of the game. And we don't know how he does it...
Kareem Abdul Jabbar: 7'2" (2.18m)
When Sports Illustrated described him as "The New Superstar" back in 1966, well, they weren't wrong. Clocking in at about 7'2", the NBA legend was practically destined to dominate the courts. By age 9, he was already 5'8". By age 13? The 6'8" teen could already slam dunk a ball.
Fast forward to today, and the NBA All-Star is no doubt one of the greatest players to have ever joined the league. And while his time on the hardwood has since to an end, Abdul Jabbar's 20-seasons as a basketball MVP will certainly never be forgotten.