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The Golden Athletes of California
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The Golden Athletes of California

As for the golden athletes of California today, they’re still here in the game making history and ensuring their names are engraved in gold.

Roubina Al Abashian

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4 min read

November 29, 2021

Nothing beats the feeling of watching your country's representatives win medal after medal on the world stage. From dominating world championships to earning Olympic medals, Californian athletes have always made the U.S. proud. Athletes like Lisa Leslie, Megan Rapinoe, and the late Kobe Bryant have always served as great examples for younger generations. As for the golden athletes of California today, they’re still here in the game making history and ensuring their names are engraved in gold.

Golden Athletes From California

From representing the SDSU Aztecs to becoming a two-time NBA champion, Leonard's is a story to be told. SD Dirk, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kawhi Leonard 

Two-time NBA champion, five-time All-Star, two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the year—you know who we’re talking about. California’s favorite golden athlete Kawhi Leonard was born and raised in Los Angeles, and he rose to stardom when he represented the San Diego State University Aztecs. From there, Leonard became the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and the rest is history. 

Nicknamed ‘The Claw’ thanks to ball-hawking skills, Leonard is known for his unrelenting effort on the defensive end. After representing the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors during his career, the famous Californian is now back home, playing for one of the best basketball team, the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Tom Brady 

Famous for spending 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady is actually a proud California native. The legendary quarterback has one of the most unbelievable stories in the entire NFL history. Brady was an above-average college quarterback at the University of Michigan, but wasn’t considered exactly “great.” But everything changed in 2000 when the New England Patriots drafted him in the sixth round as a backup. One year later, Brady finally got his break. 

For 20 seasons with the Patriots, the quarterback became a major contributor to the franchise’s dynasty, winning six Super Bowl titles. He was then drafted to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Brady won yet another Super Bowl title—his seventh. Add to that his five Super Bowl MVPs, and three NFL MVPs, and you’ll know why he’s one of our favorite golden athletes—Brady is still breaking records in his mid-forties. 

Along with her 22 WTA doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles, Venus' combined total of 73 WTA titles is second among players behind Serena.

Venus Williams 

One of the greatest athletes of all time in tennis, Venus Williams became a game-changer ever since she stepped into the spotlight. Along with her younger sister Serena, Williams is credited with introducing a new era to women’s professional tennis, promoting power and athleticism. The California-native has a very, very long list of accomplishments. To sum it up, Williams has 49 career titles, including seven Grand Slam Singles, 14 Grand Slam Doubles with sister Serena, two Grand Slam Mixed, and four Olympic gold medals. 

Venus has been ranked number one by the Women’s Tennis Association for 19 weeks (11 in singles, and 8 in doubles). When this gold medalist first reached number one at the age of 21, she became the first African American woman to do so in the Open Era. In short, this athlete is the definition of women crushing the game

Sabrina Ionescu 

Sabrina Ionescu is a California-born athlete, who has already made a huge impact on aspiring school and college female athletes at a very young age. After excelling in school basketball—where she played for Miramonte High School—Ionescu moved to represent the University of Oregon Ducks. According to Ducks coach Kelly Graves, Ionescu’s influence was so great that attendance at the college’s games had dramatically increased—it rose from an average of 1,500 attendees to more than 10,000 in her senior season. 

The point guard left her college years behind with a few remarkable titles, including NCAA All-Time Leader in Career Triple Doubles, and first NCAA player with 2,000 career points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds. In 2020, Ionescu joined the New York Liberty, where she became the youngest player in WNBA history to record a triple-double. Ionescu’s career highlights include winning the FIBA Americas U16 Championship and FIBA U17 World Cup with the national team. 

California’s Olympic Gold Medalists

Felix is the most decorated American Track and Field athlete, both men and women. Need we say more?

Allyson Felix 

The title of most decorated American Track and Field athlete of all time—men and women—goes to the incredible Allyson Felix. Arguably the most famous Black athlete from California, Felix has a career filled with one victory after the other. 

Her most notable achievements include winning 11 Olympic medals; seven gold, three silver, and one bronze—she won her first at the age of 17, making her one of the youngest Olympic gold medalists. Felix sprinted a historic split time of 47.72 seconds at the 2015 Beijing World Championships; the fastest split recorded by any American woman. This powerful woman is also a long-time advocate for salary protection for pregnant athletes; her list of accomplishments continues to grow even after giving birth!

Shaun White 

Shaun White is a three-time Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe snowboarding, but besides his Olympic medals, he has an unprecedented record at the X Games, both as a snowboarder and skateboarder. White is the first athlete ever to win four gold medals back-to-back at the Winter X-Games SuperPipe

It all started when he and his family used to ride one of the most notorious and scenic mountain ranges in California, the San Bernardino Mountains. Naturally, he fell in love with extreme sports. Fans love calling White “The Flying Tomato” due to his red hair and flying skills.

Does being born in SoCal qualify you to make it big in sports? With April Ross it did. She now has three Olympic medals, and one of them is gold.

April Ross

Being born in Southern California almost always qualifies you to make it in sports—just ask April Ross and she’ll tell you. Born in Costa Mesa, Ross was always surrounded by the best volleyball beaches in SoCal to perfect her innate talents. Starting her career as an indoor volleyball player at school level, she represented the U.S. Junior National Team. 

Later, at the University of Southern California, Ross helped her team win two NCAA titles back-to-back and eventually win the Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top female collegiate volleyball player. Later in her career, Ross shifted to beach volleyball, winning three Olympic gold medals with three different partners; silver in 2012, bronze in 2016, and gold in 2020. 

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