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Black History Month 2024: The Most Impactful Black Athletes

Black History Month is the perfect time to celebrate the impact black athletes have had on sports and culture. For Shoe Palace, we are indebted to the greatness of black athletes and the contributions they make to the footwear and sportswear markets.

Learn about some of the most important and influential black athletes in the sport’s world today by reading on below.

Baseball Star, Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts is one of the best and most popular players currently in the game of baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star has excelled in the field and at bat in his relatively short career. Markus Lynn Betts was born on October 7, 1992. He is from Nashville, Tennessee. Both of his parents encouraged him to take part in athletics, but his mother was especially influential. Betts played a lot of different sports in high school. He was a talented all-around athlete. He excelled in basketball and bowling. But baseball was where his passion and elite talent were. He would be selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

Betts made his MLB debut in 2014 for the Boston Red Sox. He was only 21 years old. Betts would play center fielder for the Red Sox, and he was an impact player practically from the start of his career. By 2016, Betts was considered a star. In 2018, Mookie Betts would help the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.

In 2020, Mookie Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would join an incredibly talented roster. He would shine statistically for the Southern California team right away and helped to lead them to a World Series win in 2020. This was the Dodgers first World Series win since 1988.

mookie betts

Baseball Star, Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge was adopted the day after his birth by teachers Patty and Wayne Judge. He would grow up in California. By the time Judge was around 10 years old, he realized he did not look like his parents. Aaron Judge is a tall and muscular person, and his physique did not match up to his parents. Judge is also biracial. His adoptive parents were incredibly caring, and Judge has expressed that he always felt extremely loved.

In High School Judge played football, basketball, and baseball. He was recruited by top Universities for football and baseball. Judge made the choice that he wanted to play baseball exclusively. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s when he was only 18 in 2010. His parents encouraged him to pursue an education and Judge agreed with them. He would play for Fresno State before being drafted by the Yankees in 2013.

Judge played in the minors for various Yankees affiliates from 2014 to 2016. He would make his major league debut on August 13, 2016. He would start for the Yankees in right field and in his very first at bat, Judge would hit a home run. His season started off hot, but his first season was not spectacular. But Aaron Judge would improve each year in the MLB. In 2017, Judge lead the American League with 52 Home Runs. In 2022, he hit an American League Record, 62 Home Runs. In 2022, Judge signed a $350 Million Dollar contract with the Yankees.

Aaron Judge

Basketball Star, Stephen Curry

Dell Curry was one of the top shooters in the NBA during his 16 years in the league. His son, Stephen Wardell Curry, was born on March 14, 1988. Stephen would often attend his father’s games when he was a young boy. He was surrounded by NBA culture incredibly early in his life. The long range shooting prowess of his father obviously rubbed off on Steph. Ultimately, the son would surpass the substantial shooting ability of his father.

Stephen would play college basketball for Davidson College. He would stay there for three seasons before entering the NBA Draft in 2009. Curry would be drafted in the first round by the Golden State Warriors. The guard was selected with the seventh overall pick. In retrospect, the Warriors were incredibly lucky that Curry was still available that late in the draft. To get the greatest shooter that ever lived, with the seventh pick, is one of the greatest steals of all time in the NBA Draft. Especially when you consider other great players of Curry’s generation, like LeBron James & Kevin Durant, were top three picks.

Before the 2014-2015 season, Stephen Curry was considered one of the top guards in the league. He was a great shooter and scorer, and fans loved to watch him play. But Curry had not earned any substantial success in the playoffs, which is the thing that earns you respect in the NBA. Playoff success would come in a major way in 2015. Curry would lead the Golden State Warriors to the NBA Championship. The Warriors would defeat who many believe to be the best player of his generation, LeBron James, and his Cleveland Cavaliers. Curry also earned league MVP honors during the 2014-2015 season. He would win the MVP Award again in the 2015-2016 season. Becoming one of the rare players to win the MVP Award in back to back seasons. As of 2022, Chef Curry is a four time NBA Champion (2015, 2017, 2018, 2022).

steph curry

NFL Star, Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes is unstoppable on the football field. At an early age, he took the sport of football by storm. Patrick Lavon Mahomes II was born on September 17, 1995. The star is from Texas. Mahomes father was a professional pitcher in the MLB. The younger Mahomes would accompany his father to games often. He would pick up tips and tricks from the other professional baseball players. Mahomes would pick up the game of baseball easily. He had a strong throwing arm and it looked like baseball might be the sport he would excel in long term.

Mahomes would take part in football, baseball, and basketball while in high school. He was a star in all three sports and showed enormous potential in each one. Mahomes would be picked in the 2014 MLB Draft. But Texas Tech University offered Mahomes a scholarship for football. Wisely, Mahomes would pursue a career in football and accept the Texas Tach University offer.

He would play three years at Texas Tech, and he put up enormous numbers for the University. Mahomes would enter the 2017 NFL Draft and the Kansas City Chiefs would select him in the first round with the 10 overall pick. He would be a backup for his first season in the league and did not get much playing time. In 2018, he was given the chance to start and did not disappoint. Mahomes would have one of the best seasons of all time as a starter for the first time for the Chiefs. In 2020, he would lead the Chiefs to Super Bowl victory. He would also bring home the MVP trophy for Super Bowl LIV. He would lead the Chiefs to another victory at Super Bowl LVII and again would bring home the MVP Trophy.

Patrick Mahomes

Basketball Star, LeBron James

LeBron James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 straight out of high school. His impact as a teenager was instant – both on the court and off. King James delivered from the very start in the NBA and earned Rookie of the Year honors. The King entered the league when he was just 18 years old. The expectations put on him were huge, and more than any teenager should have to face. King has not only lived up to all the hype, he has exceeded it. The King never slowed down after his first season in the league, and he has achieved some of the most iconic moments in basketball history. “The Decision,” overcoming a 3-1 game deficit in the 2016 NBA Finals, and bringing a championship to his hometown team, the list goes on and on.

6 feet and 9 inches tall, fast, strong, and skilled. King James deserves the name, King. His god given ability is unmatched. What is overlooked is the work he has obviously put in. LeBron James is one of the smartest players to ever play the game, his basketball IQ is off the charts. James knows what is going to happen on the court before it happens. It is why he is such a brilliant passer and defender.

LeBron has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Los Angeles Lakers in his long career. The King has four championship rings, played in 10 NBA Finals, and won two Olympic gold medals. The career of LeBron James is unparalleled.

Patrick Mahomes