When talking about the greatest athletes, fans usually bring up impressive victories, record-breaking feats, and a shelf full of cups and medals. But, you see, there’s a different kind of “big” in the world of sports – the kind that doesn’t always fit in the trophy case.
These athletes will forever be etched in history for the sheer gigantic size of their bodies as well their achievements. Yeah, we’re talking about the biggest league imaginable, where athletes literally stand head and shoulders above the rest. So, get ready to meet some real-life colossi.
1. Andre the Giant (6′11″)
The French wrestler Andre Rene Roussimoff got his legendary moniker, Andre the Giant, due to his condition, acromegaly, sometimes called “giantism.” But that wasn’t his first wrestling alias. He went by Jean Ferre in Montreal and Monster Roussimoff in Japan before he stepped into the ring as Andre the Giant at Madison Square Garden in 1973. To give you an idea of his colossal stature, when he was just 12, his height reached a towering 6 feet, 3 inches. At his absolute peak, he stretched to a staggering 6 feet, 11 inches, and carried almost 500 pounds of pure muscle and might. Incredible!
2. Yao Ming (7′ 6″)
Playing ball runs in Yao Ming’s family, so it’s not exactly shocking that he also caught the basketball bug. Standing at a whopping 7 feet 6 inches, Yao makes his 6 feet 7 inches tall dad and 6 feet 3 inches tall mom look like regular-sized folks. Like many super tall hoopsters, this ex-Houston Rockets star had to hang up his sneakers in 2011 because gravity destroyed his ankles and feet. But during his last few games, he held the title of the tallest guy in the NBA, and that’s pretty darn cool.
3. Laura Dijkema (6′1″)
Meet the tallest female volleyball player from Denmark, Laura Dijkema! This 6-foot-tall Amazon has been spiking and serving since she was just a kid, and most of her pro career went down playing in the German team Dresdner SC. But she didn’t stop there; Dijkema also joined the Dutch National team, bagging three medals in just two years!
4. Mamadou N’Diaye (7′6″)
Mamadou N’Diaye is a Senegali giant towering 7 feet 6 inches! Back in his college days at the University of California, he earned the title of the tallest baller in NCAA Division 1. Then, he took his talents to the NBA, where he rolled with the Detroit Pistons and even did a stint with the Grand Rapids Drive. Oh, and by the way, he’s not just tall; he’s a pro at swatting shots, which earned him a special award in 2013-2014. The guy’s got some serious skills!
5. Brittney Griner (7′2″)
Brittney Griner, the basketball sensation from the USA, was the big shot center for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA and has earned some jaw-dropping feats. Not only is she the only NCAA player to slam-dunk 2,000 points and block over 500 shots, but she’s also the proud owner of the Best Female Athlete Espy award from 2012. So, of course, Griner would be an easy pick for the USA Olympic Women’s team. She was a superstar in the prime of her career, and she even teamed up with Nike for an endorsement deal in 2013. Way to go, Brittney!
6. Hafthor Julius Bjornsson (6′9″)
You might’ve seen Hafthor Julius Bjornsson around the Internet after becoming a Game of Thrones star. He’s the colossal 6 feet 9 inches tall mountain, packing over 400 pounds of muscles. Before Hafthor took on acting, he was a beast in the World’s Strongest Man competition, scoring top spots for six straight years! This guy’s a real-life superhero, isn’t he?
7. Blanka Vlasic (6′3″)
It’s time to meet Blanka Vlasic, the high-jumping superstar from Croatia. Even with a hyperthyroid condition, she’s snagged 16 international medals of all sorts: a dozen gold, three silver, and one bronze! Being 6 feet 3 inches tall gives her a leg up in the high jump game, especially against the shorter competitors. She was named World Athlete of the Year in 2010 and European Athlete of the Year in 2007 and 2010. Blanka is not just good, she’s a real superstar!
8. Manute Bol (7′7″)
Manute Bol, the Sudanese-born athlete and political activist, was a literal giant at 7 feet 7 inches. He’s still one of the NBA’s tallest-ever players! This ace center first hit the NBA scene with the Washington Bullets in 1985, and throughout his career, he easily swatted over 2,000 shots! Unfortunately, Bol passed away in 2010 due to kidney trouble. But during his time, he used every opportunity to speak out for human rights in Sudan and help Sudanese refugees. Manute was more than just a basketball legend, he was a true hero.