Top 7 Smartest Athletes in Professional Sports You Won’t Believe

While almost all professional sports activities involve some level of physical fitness, we cannot say that all those who participate in sports are very smart. Again, most of them may be sports smart, but the type of smartness we are talking about involves the ability to flex muscles in verse or multiple areas while flexing physical muscles in professional sports.

Some sportsmen have distinguished themselves in other areas, especially in the academic field, due to their knack for educational development. These are the people we are talking about here, the top smartest athletes in professional sports. That is why we have made a list of the top 7 smartest athletes in professional sports.

cyclist on a tour

Smartest Athletes in Basketball

Bill Bradley

Bill is one enigmatic human being that needs to be studied. This is the man that had up to 75 scholarship offers to study at Princeton University. When he eventually went to Princeton, he was picked as a member of the 1964 Olympic basketball team, and the team won the gold medal in the tournament.

In 1965, he became the NCAA Player of the Year even though his team ended up at the third position in the NCAA tournament. He earned his degree in 1965, graduating with Magna Cum Laude, after which he got a Rhodes scholarship that took him to Oxford University. He was in Oxford for two years and later joined the Air Force Reserves six months before joining the New York Knicks, where he was drafted as the territorial pick. He was with the Knicks for 10 years, during which they won the NBA twice.

After his playing career, he went into politics and served as the senator representing New Jersey for three terms. After his stint as a senator, he contested for the United States presidency under the Democratic Party in 2000 and was defeated by Al Gore in the primary elections. This marked the end of his career as an active politician. After that attempt, he veered into other areas of life and served on the board of Starbucks. Bill is no doubt one of the smartest athletes to have played basketball.

Dikembe Mutombo

One outstanding thing about Mutombo is that he loves doing humanitarian works, but that does not take away the fact that he is extremely smart. Born in Congo in Africa, Mutombo came to the United States on a basketball scholarship.

He went ahead to become a defensive player of the year on four occasions and to feature in the NBA all-star eight times. When Dikembe arrived in the United States, he didn’t speak English because Congo is a French-speaking country. However, as a very quick learner, he was able to learn and become very proficient in many languages, including:

  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • French
  • English 
  • Many Central African languages 

He grew into one of the most influential leaders in Georgetown and earned a degree in linguistics and diplomacy in 1991 – a course that gave him the chance to intern at the World Bank and the United States Congress. He was inducted into the basketball hall of fame in 2015.

Smartest Tennis Professional

Marion Bartoli

Many people want to believe that almost everybody who plays tennis is smart, but it does not work that way. There are only a few people that fit the bill, and the Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli is one of them. She was born to a medical doctor, which indicates how naturally intelligent her family is.

She was a former Wimbledon champion who spends her free time painting because of how sharp her brain is. At some point, it became imperative to measure her IQ, and the result was 175. This is higher than the confirmed IQ of intellectual greats like Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. She is very smart.

Smartest Professional Baseball Player

Craig Breslow

Breslow played in the MLB from 2005 to 2017 and had a very illustrious career. This MLB reliever is seen by many as the smartest player that played on a major sports franchise. This is even more evident in the fact that Craig read molecular biophysics and biochemistry at the prestigious Yale University and came out with a GPA of 3.5. In preparation for medical school, he took the MCAT and scored 34.

This is very remarkable because the average score in the exam was 27. Of course, his result got him a place in NYU medical school, but he chose to play baseball instead. He joined the Oakland Athletics and did wonders with them. He was named the smartest athlete in professional sports by Sporting News, and that shows that his gamble paid off.

The Smartest Athletes in American Football (NFL)

Myron Rolle

Of course, this NFL safety can comfortably tell us how football is different from brain surgery because he can. It was in 2019 that Myron became a Rhodes Scholar after doing wonders in football at Florida State University. At Oxford University, he earned a master’s degree in medical anthropology before joining the NFL for two seasons. After this, he went to medical school in Florida and graduated in 2017. He later went into a neurosurgery residency at Harvard. He is a hot brain and one of the smartest to be seen in professional sports.

Alan Page

Page is the next sharp brain from the NFL on our list. Many people see him as the most rounded individual in the league. He got a degree in political science from Notre Dame in 1967. He was made the 15th pick by Minnesota when he graduated in their draft of 1967, and he went ahead to do wonders throughout his career, winning the pro bowler 9 times. He became the first-ever defensive player to win the MVP award in its entire history. This speaks of smartness. 

Signed to the Vikings, he succeeded in earning his JD from the University of Minnesota law school in 1978. He also set the record as the first-ever active NFL player to run a marathon. He was inducted into the college football hall of fame in 1993. The same year, he started working as an associate justice in the supreme court of Minnesota. He was with the Supreme Court till he retired in 2015 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump.

The Smartest Professional Boxing

Vitali Klitschko

There are no links between boxing and high intelligence, and the fact that boxers take punches in their heads makes it even more difficult to think that boxers can be very smart. However, one man proved to be very intelligent among boxers. His name is Vitali Klitschko, and those who know do not take him as a common fighter.

For up to 10 years combined, he was the holder of the WBC and WBO world championships. While he garnered these medals, he was a member of the Ukrainian Parliament and also pursued and earned a doctorate in sports science. No other world champion has this, and he combined it with an amazing fighting career record that ended with a record of 41-2. Vitali has been the Mayor of Kyiv since his retirement, and he thinks being a mayor is tougher than being a fighter.


With the exploits of the men mentioned above in other sectors of life, especially in academics, no one will doubt their smartness. It is naturally difficult to achieve these feats. Yet, most of them combined them with their professional sports career and came out successful. So, we are right when we say they are the smartest out there. If you are in doubt, try what they did.

Last Updated on October 16, 2023

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