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Who are the Smartest Athletes in Professional Sports?

Let's look at a few professional athletes and find the most intelligent in each sport. In this article, I am not looking at the player's intelligence of their sport. I am looking at the player's overall intelligence.

Judging intelligence is often a difficult and challenging process. However, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look into the top minds of some of the major professional athletes. ​ This article is totally debatable and I would like to hear your opinion in the Facebook comments.



Chris Carter, Most recently an outfielder in Nippon Professional Baseball
What qualifies Carter as being on the list of the most intelligent professional baseball players (in my opinion)? How about graduating from Stanford in just three years where he was a pre-med student. While attending Stanford, he majored in Human Biology.

Miguel Batista, Retired Pitcher
Batista is a retired pitcher from the baseball capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. Drafted at age 17 by the Montreal Expos, Batista never had a chance to attend college. However, as an author, he has published two books. His love of poetry and philosophy is evident in his first book, written in Spanish, "Sentimientos en Blanco y Negro" ("Feelings in Black and White"). His second book is a thriller about a serial killer. "The Avenger of Blood."

Ross Ohlendorf, Free Agent Pitchder

Ohlendorf majored in Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton. While in the Arizona Diamondback's farm system, he wrote his senior thesis using statistical analysis which looked at the Return on Investment of each player that was drafted during the MLB draft.


Honorable mention goes to Craig Breslow, Boston Red Sox Reliever

Breslow graduated from Yale with a 3.5 GPA in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. He scored in the 99th percentile on the MCAT. After graduation, he turned down an acceptance letter from NYU Medical School so he could play baseball


American Football


Note: The NFL uses the Wonderlic test scores during their drafting process. Wonderlic is a cognitive ability test devised to help gauge the test taker’s cognitive abilities. A perfect score of 50 has been achieved only once. That was scored by Cincinnati Bengal's punter John Patrick McInally -- who could have landed on this list.


Myron Rolle, Free Agent Safety

Rolle graduated from Florida State in two and a half years with a GPA of 3.75. A recipient of a Rhodes Scholar (regarded the most prestigious academic award in the world), he received a full scholarship to Oxford where he received his degree in Medical Anthropology.


Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

This may ruffle a few feathers  but Compton graduate Sherman, left High School with a 4.1 degree and went on to attend Stanford University where he received an  undergraduate degree in communications. He has recently returned to school to work on his Master's degree.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

A Harvard graduate that studied mathematics, this man scored a near perfect 49 (out of 50) on the Wonderlic Test. There is some controversy about his score. Some people claimed he scored a perfect 50 but he has admitted he left one answer unanswered. Still, it's the highest score of any NFL quarterback of all time.




Pau Gasol, Spanish NBA Basketball Player

His mother was a doctor and his father was a nursing administrator. Playing Basketball  was not a top priority for Pau. His goal was to work in the medical industry fighting AIDS. Upon graduation from High School, he attended Barcelona Medical School but his basketball skills started getting the attention of NBA team so he left early to enter the NBA draft. Gasol speaks several languages; Italian, French, Catalan, Spanish and English. 


Emeka Okafor, Free Agent Basketball Player

Okafor ws named 2008 All-American Athlete of the Year.  He graduated in three years with a degree in Finance from UConn and a GPA of 3.8. Both parents are native of Nigeria and they insisted on education before sports. During his senior hear in High School, he received scholarship offers from Arkansas, Vanderbilt and UConn.  


Shane Battier, Retired NBA player

Battier is considered one of the smartest NBA players of all time. While at Duke, he was scouted by several NBA teams but he was not going to leave school early. He stayed all four years and graduated with a 3.5 GPA with a degree in Religion.  Battier was a two-time Academic All-American and Academic All-American of the year in 2001 After retiring from basketball. He was contacted by politicians to judge his interest in running for the Senate.  He has no interest in a career in politics.




Alex Killhorn, NHL Centreman for the Tampa Bay Lightning

At the young age of 15, he was drafted 42nd overall in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft. But the choice was an easy one for Killhorn – continue his education.  That was a choice that thrilled his mom, Cindy, a former teacher and holder of a master's degree in education. In 2007, Killhorn was drafted again. This time it was the Tampa Bay Lightning that drafted him. Having just started his studies at Harvard, Tampa Bay’s general manager Steve Yzerman knew Killhorn was serious about his education and never put pressure on him to turn pro. In 2012, Killhorn graduated from Harvard University with a degree in political science and a 3.5 grade-point average


Douglas Murray, Retired Hockey Defenseman and Swedish Hockey Olympian

Murry speaks three languages: Swedish, German and English and is a 2012 graduate from Cornell University. He graduated with a degree in Cornell’s prestigious Hotel Administration program.  After he retires from hockey, he plans to get into the world of Finance.




Yes, I know gymnastics is not a professional sport but it deserves being listed here nonetheless.


Nastia Liukin, American Gymnast

Nastia was born in the Soviet Union but immigrated to the United States shortly after the breakup of the union.  In 2008, she enrolled at Southern Methodist University but her gymnastics travel commitments forced her to take a leave from school. She later enrolled at New York University and graduated in May of 2016 with a degree in Sports Management and Psychology.


Shannon Miller, Most Decorated American Gymnast

Shannon is a well educated athlete. In 2003, she graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Then in 2007, Shannon  Graduated from Boston College Law School.


Football (Soccer in America)


Shaka Hislop, Retired Goalkeeper

Hislop earned a scholarship to Howard University and graduated with honors with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at Howard, Hislop interned at NASA.  He went on to play in the Premiere League.


Clarke Carlisle, Retired Defender

Carlisle studied high-level mathematics and politics at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College. He earned a degree in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting from Staffordshire University. Now retired, he is looking forward to getting into teaching.


Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira, Deceased Midfielder

When one thinks of Socrates, one often thinks of the Greek Philosopher, not the Brazilian footballer. However, this footballer, given the name at birth, is worthy of the name. He has a doctorate in medicine from Faculdade de Medicina de Ribeirão Preto. After retiring from Football, he practiced medicine at Ribeirao Preto. Politically, Socrates was a co-founder of the Corinthians Democracy movement. The movement was founded in opposition to the then-ruling military government.

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