15 Apr Famous Sports Sculptures | Top Sports Athlete Memorials
7 Famous Sports Legends Memorialized in Statues
Many of the most famous statues in America are of legendary sports giants. Many are of players who did more than just leave a statistical mark on their sport. These are great players whose lives they led made them great people as well. While there are famous American statues erected all across our great nation, these seven figures represent legends of our beloved sports.
Our list includes a heroic football player and great baseball players. We also note a statue erected in honor of an endearing basketball star, a tremendous golfer and one of the greatest hockey players of all-time. We’ll finish our list of seven famous sports legend statues with a world-famous race car driver, memorialized outside the very track where he lost his life.
Pat Tillman Statue
The first in our list of famous legends memorialized in statues is of a tremendous football player and national hero. Of all the well-known great gridiron heroes who have been honored with football statues figures, Pat Tillman was more than just an athlete.
His story of dedication to his country is well-documented. After the 9/11 attacks on American soil, Tillman joined the Army Rangers and was killed in Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded both a Silver Star and Purple Heart.
The Pat Tillman statue is erected outside Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University. He played four years for the Sun Devils before being drafted by the Cardinals. Tillman spent both his collegiate and four year pro careers in Arizona.
Helmet in hand, locks of hair waving in the wind, the statue of Tillman is a monument to service and sacrifice. The statue is a joint effort by Omri Amrany and Gary Tillery, dedicated on a Wednesday afternoon in August 2017.
Magic Johnson Statue
A second on our list of famous American statues depicting beloved sports stars, was also crafted by Tillery and Amrany. Outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California is a 17-foot tall bronze of the man who led the Laker team known as Showtime.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson orchestrated one of the most successful championship runs in NBA history. He led Los Angeles to nine NBA Finals appearances during his career, winning five titles during the 1980s. Johnson is one professional athlete who can claim to have the most statues of a person in the world of sports.
There is also an iconic sculpted image of Magic outside the arena at his Alma Mater, Michigan State University. Including its massive concrete base, the Michigan State statue of Johnson weighs nearly 93 tons. Both statues display Johnson in full sprint, engaged in his infamous no-look pass.
Wayne Gretzky Statue
Our next statue is one of the most famous hockey statues erected. Appropriately it is a statue of “The Great One”. Wayne Gretzky is rarely debated as being the greatest professional hockey player to lace up a pair of ice skates.
He obliterated innumerous NHL records, many of which he still holds today. Every team in the National Hockey League has retired his famous jersey number 99. He is one of very few famous people, sports heroes included, to have a statue erected why they are still actively playing.
Sculptor John Weaver crafted the statue the first Gretzky statue that was dedicated in 1989. The massive nine-foot depiction of Gretzky hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head, weighs nearly a thousand pounds. The statue was given a facelift in 2016 by Don Begg, who helped Weaver with the original crafting in the 1980s.
As noteworthy as the statue itself is, the move was equally impressive. Begg had to cut into the statue’s granite base to get at the bolts holding it securely in place. After standing for 27 seasons outside the Edmonton Oilers old arena, it now welcomes hockey fans to the new home inside Rogers Place.
The Arnold Palmer Statue
There are only a few legends with golf statues reflecting their impact on the game. One of those is the late Arnold Palmer. Across time there have been men who earned the nickname “The King”, and Palmer is one of those.
His legendary status in the golfing world was cemented by taking honors in more than 60 PGA events, including four green jackets at Augusta. His larger-than-life likeness is erected as the Arnold Palmer statue stands outside one of the golf courses he helped make famous.
Outside Palmer’s signature Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Florida is a massive, 13-foot tall, 1,400-pound bronze sports statues; a replica of Palmer finishing one of his mammoth tee-shots. Sculptor Bruce Wolfe spent nearly eight months at his northern California home, blending more than 100 photographs of Palmer to craft this masterpiece.
Since then there have been many more variations made on the statue, including a version by Big Statues
Fenway Park Statues
Two of the most famous statues are a pair of statues at Fenway Park. Baseball enthusiasts will especially appreciate two of these monuments, a pair of Fenway Park statues dedicated to legendary Boston Red Sox hitters.
In 2013, the Red Sox unveiled a picturesque statue of “The Yaz” right beside the Splendid Splinter. Also known as “Teddy Ballgame” the Ted Williams statue is both a tribute to Ted Williams as well as his benevolence towards humanity.
Williams’s statue stands a robust 8 feet six inches tall. The larger-than-life, 1,200-pound masterpiece sculpted by Franc Talarico depicts the six-time batting champion putting his ball cap on the head of a young boy stricken with cancer. Boston put their second greatest hitter beside Williams.
Carl Yastrzemski’s likeness shows the famous Red Sox tipping his cap to the fans, something he did thousands of times during his storied 23-year career. This pair of famous statues at Fenway Park is two of a trio that welcome baseball fans outside the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball.
The Jeff Bagwell Statue
There are a number of marvelous statues erected to honor great baseball players. Another sits in the Lone Star State outside the home of the Houston Astros. While many players are noted for their hitting prowess, as Jeff Bagwell was as well, he was also known for his extraordinary stretch off first base.
Biggio’s companion statue was dedicated at the same time and collectively they display two players who spent their entire major league careers in Houston. The combining of two players performing a single play presents a unique opportunity for fans enamored with famous sports statues.
The Dale Earnhardt Statue
Our search for famous sports statues now shifts gears, finishing with auto racing. Anyone who has even sparingly followed the world of professional stock car racing will have heard of Dale Earnhardt. The famed number three car in NASCAR captured seven Winston Cup championships.
Earnhardt was known for his hard, unforgiving style of stock car racing. Fans and fellow racers knew him as “The Intimidator”. A nine-foot tall bronze statue sits outside the Daytona Speedway in Daytona, Florida.
It shows the legendary race car driver standing on a bronze number three, holding the trophy awarded to the winner of the Daytona 500. This 1,200-pound bronze monument to racing greatness was sculpted by John Lajbaand unveiled in 2002, one year after Earnhardt’s untimely death at the very same racetrack.
These are seven sports statues that represent legends of our country’s sports. Each one is an exquisitely sculpted work of art that should pique the interest of any sports or connoisseur of fine art. We honor our sports heroes by carrying on their legends, and these massive tributes to greatness help us do just that.