10 Catholic Athletes You Should Know

Simone Biles performs a gymnastic routine at the 2016 Olympics

As we head into the fall, we are also heading into an important time for sports: the beginning of the football, basketball, and hockey seasons, and the end of the baseball season. This is a favorite time of year for sports fans and athletes alike.

Athletes and the people who support them have a unique role within the Church. They represent discipline, hard work, and endurance through their sports—and these are all traits that are treasured in the spiritual life. Professional athletes in particular have the privilege and responsibility of being role models. When they take this job seriously, they can have a major impact on the lives of their fans and on the attitude with which we approach sports in general. They hold the power to shift the sports world—and with it, culture—toward a higher moral standard.

Here are 10 Catholic athletes whose faith has shaped what they do both on the field and off it.

1. Simone Biles

Biles, a gymnast who won four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics, has spoken widely about her Catholic faith. She chose St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, as her patron saint for confirmation.

2. Tom Brady

This Super Bowl Champion and MVP was raised Catholic, had a Catholic wedding, and baptized his son in the Catholic Church.

3. Babe Ruth

Though his behavior was often wild, slugger Babe Ruth was a Catholic who constantly sought forgiveness and died with a statue of St. Martin de Porres at his side.

4. Brett Favre

Favre is known as one of football’s greatest players, and he is also known for a strong Catholic faith that he shares with his wife, Deanna.

5. Tommy Lasorda

Legendary baseball manager Tommy Lasorda is a lifelong Catholic. When he managed the Dodgers, he would have a priest say Mass for the Catholics every Sunday.

6. Kobe Bryant

Bryant has had his share of struggles, just like all sinners. But a crucial part of his life is his Catholic faith, which he credits with saving his marriage.

7. Kimmie Meissner

World Champion figure skater Kimmie Meissner has a strong Catholic faith that has influenced both her athletics and family life.

8. Bonnie Blair

In addition to being an Olympic gold medalist in speed skating, Blair is a well-known Catholic humanitarian and spokeswoman for Catholic Relief Services.

9. Pelé

Pelé is considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time. He is also a devoted lifelong Catholic, and he has met several popes.

10. Katie Ledecky

At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Katie Ledecky collected four gold medals in swimming and smashed world records. Since then, she has spoken publicly about her Catholic faith, including her practice of saying the Hail Mary before races.


10 Catholic Athletes You Should Know