Sunday, July 19, 2015

The top 15 professional athletes born in Sacramento.

When people think of Sacramento, the birthplace of pro athletes usually doesn't come to mind, but in fact, there's a distinguished list of professionals in the sporting ranks that came from Sacramento, Placer, or Yolo Counties. Here is our list of the top 15, arranged alphabetically by last name. Are we missing anyone who should be in the top 15? Who is your favorite Sacramento athlete? Let us know, and play ball! 

1. Ryan Anderson
Sport: NBA basketball
El Dorado Hill’s Anderson has enjoyed a surprisingly productive early NBA career after being drafted in 2008 by the New Jersey Nets. He was quickly traded to the Orlando Magic where he earned a spot in the starting rotation and caught the league’s attention as a power forward who could stretch defense out to the three-point line with his accurate stroke. He won the NBA’s 2012 Most Improved Player Award and was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he’s enjoyed scoring and rebounding success despite some injury frustrations.

2. Dusty Baker
Sport: MLB baseball
Johnnie B. "Dusty" Baker, Jr. lived in Elk Grove before his standout 19-year career as a major league baseball player with the Dodgers and Braves. But his most notable sports accomplishment was as a manager of the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, and Cincinnati Reds for 20 years.

3. Lance Briggs
Sport: Chicago Bears, NFL football
Briggs, a 6-1, 242-pound linebacker who was drafted by the Bears in 2003, was born in Sacramento on November 12, 1980 and attended Elk Grove High School, where he was named Sacramento Bee Player of the Year as a senior.

4. Teddy Bruschi
Sport: NFL football
The heart and soul of the Patriots championship defense, Bruschi went to high school in Roseville before attending Arizona University and being drafted to the NFL in 1996. Along with Tom Brady, Brushci and the Pats found unparalleled success that led to three Super Bowl trophies.

5. Bill Cartwright
Sport: NBA Basketball
Fans of the early Michael Jordan Bulls teams may remember their gangly and spirited center, Bill Cartwright. Standing 7’1”, Cartwright started his hoops career at Elk Grove High before going on to the University of San Francisco and 16 seasons for the Knicks, Bulls, and SuperSonics in the pro ranks.

6. John Daly
Sport: Golf
Most people don’t realize that Daly, one of the best golfers in the world in his day, was born in Carmichael, California, although his family moved to Arkansas when he was still young. Daly went on to a storied career as a pro golfer and plenty of championship hardware, best known for his 300-yard plus drives (earning him the moniker, Long John), and sometimes boisterous personality.

7. Uriah Faber
Sport: UFC/mixed martial arts
The California Kid is the pride and joy of Davis, California, where he went to school and wrestled. He’s gone on to great things in the pro ranks of the WEC and UFC, including holding several championship belts and becoming one of the most recognizable names – and smiling faces – in the sport. His contribution extends beyond his own career, as he’s the founder of the Alpha Male team that grooms many other successful fighters.

8. Kevin Johnson
Sport: NBA basketball
Kevin Johnson was born in Sacramento and attended Sacramento High, where he was a standout in both baseball and basketball. He had a stellar career in the NBA, almost all as the face of the Phoenix Suns organizations, earning three nods to the All Star team. After his basketball career, Johnson earned a degree in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley and founded two education initiatives in his home city. Oh, and Johnson also is the current mayor of Sacramento – not a bad post-NBA career!

9. Kyle Larson
We all know they drive fast on the streets of Elk Grove, but resident Kyle Larson, born in 1992, used his lead foot to an advantage on the raceway track. Larson drove his way to fame as the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Rookie of the Year and champion, the 2013 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, winner of the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year.

10. Derrek Lee
Sport: MLB baseball
“The Pride of Carmichael,” Derrek Leon Lee was born in 1975 and started playing major league baseball with the Padres in 1997. He went on to play for the Marlins, Cubs, Braves, Orioles, and Pirates, winning the World Series in 2003 with the Marlins. He’s also earned individual accolades: the 2005 NL batting title, two All-Star selections, and three Gold Glove awards.

11. Manny Parra
Sport: MLB baseball
Manuel Alex "Manny" Parra graduated from Casa Roble High School in 2000 and American River College in 2002, where he earned the National Junior College of the Year Award. He pitched a perfect game in AAA before getting called up to the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers, and now as a standout relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.

12. Dustin Pedroia
Sport: MLB baseball
Born and raised in Woodland, California only a few miles from Sacramento, Dustin Pedroia is burst into the major league scene in 2006 as a diminutive spark plug second baseman for the Boston Red Sox. He won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2007 and went on to four All Star appearances and an AL Most Valuable Player Award, leading the Red Sox to two World Series titles.

13. Summer Sanders
Sport: Swimming
Summer Elisabeth Sanders grew up in Roseville before going on to swim competitively at Stanford University and than participating in the 1992 Olympics, where she won gold, silver, and bronze medals. She’s now a commentator and media personality that represents her sport and her country with aplomb.

14. Dante Stallworth
Sport: NFL football
Everyone in Sacramento knows that Grant Union High School produces plenty of notable athletes, but none were better than the young Stallworth, who excelled in track and football. He went on to a notable career as a sure-handed wide receiver with the Saints, Eagles, Patriots, Redskins, Ravens, and Browns. But perhaps the best team he ever played on was back at Grant as a high schooler along with teammates Seneca Wallace (NFL quarterback), Onterio Smith (NFL running back), C.J. Wallace (NFL Safety), and Paris Warren (NFL receiver.)

15. Tony “The Tiger” Lopez
Sport: Boxing
Long before Uriah Faber or TJ Dillishaw made a name in the pro fighting ranks, Lopez was a scrappy middleweight boxer representing Sacramento. Born in the Californian capitol city in 1966, Lopez went on to distinguish himself as a skilled brawler with a 50-8-1 record, including 34 knockouts and Fight of the Year honors in 1988.

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