Sports speakers are a game changer for event organizers looking to inspire their audiences and take their events up to the next level. Sports motivational speakers draw upon their athletic experiences to deliver dazzling talks on topics like perseverance, overcoming obstacles, and team work to audiences like yours.
When it comes to sports speakers, AAE is proud to work with the best of the best. Here, we’re bringing you to the top 20 sports speakers for corporate events. Whatever your industry or event format, this list of thought leaders is a great place to start.
What better way to get off to a great start than with one of the fastest women in history? Allyson Felix reigns as the most decorated American Track & Field Olympian of all time. She officially retired from her competitive running career in the summer of 2022, with a mind-blowing, thirty-one global medals at the Olympics and World Championships, and titles as both a World Record Holder and a Master’s World Record Holder.
From the track, we head out into the waves. Bethany Hamilton is one of the best surfers in the world and a source of inspiration for millions, including through the 2011 film, Soul Surfer. Hamilton lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark, which seemed to end her career as a rising surf star. One month after the attack, Hamilton returned to the water and within two years had won her first national title, before going pro in 2007.
Looking to bring some “magic” to your next event? Look no further than this NBA legend. His on-court accolades place him among the best ever: five NBA championships as a player, three NBA MVPs, 12 NBA All-Star Game selections, to name a few. Johnson’s off the court pursuits have been equally as successful, owning stakes in sports teams, founding companies, and building a successful career as a sports motivational speaker.
When we think of the best sports stories, they almost always involve perseverance. Inky Johnson was the start quarterback for the University of Tennessee before a life-threatening injury ended his NFL dreams. Now, he’s using his story as a way to uplift and inspire audiences around the country. For over a decade, executives, sports teams, and business owners have beneﬁted from the raw energy of Johnson’s thought provoking and inspirational presentations.
We could mention that Jackie Joyner-Kersee was named “The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century” by Sports Illustrated and leave it at that, but we’ll go on. Throughout Joyner-Kersee’s career in the heptathlon and long jump events, she earned six Olympic medals (3 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze) and four World Champion titles. She’s since made the jump to professional speaking and is considered one of the top motivational sports speakers in the world.
If there ever was a personification of the word “inspirational,” Jessica Long may be it. Born to a teenage mother in the Siberia cold, burdened by congenital defects in her legs, and placed for adoption at 13 months old, Long was able to persevere to become one of the most decorated female athletes in US history. She is a twenty-nine-time Paralympic medalist, with sixteen gold medals, eight silver medals, and five bronze medals.
The greatest moment in sports history of the 20th century was when the US 1980 Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Team pulled off perhaps the greatest upset of all time against the USSR. Goaltender Jim Craig is best known as the backbone of that remarkable team, which later inspired the 2004 Disney movie, Miracle. Following Craig’s professional hockey career, he transitioned his success into the corporate world as a sports motivational speaker, businessman, and corporate consultant.
They say it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Jim Morris is a walking example of this truth. Morris was a high school science teacher and coach in west Texas who miraculously made it to the Major Leagues at 35. His story made cinematic history with the Disney movie, The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid. Since retiring, Morris has been a highly sought-after sports motivational speaker traveling the world inspiring audiences to follow their dreams and never give up.
Lisa Leslie is undoubtedly the most-recognized player of both the WNBA and Team USA and considered the most dominant player in the women’s game. Leslie carried the gold-winning Team USA in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008, the first team sport athlete to win four consecutive Olympic Gold Medals. She was also the first woman to slam-dunk in a professional game. As an author, sports commentator, and sports motivational speaker, she’s still just as dominant off the court.
You’ve seen his story told in the Hollywood hit, The Blind Side, but did you know that Michael Oher has dedicated his post NFL career to making a difference in the lives of kids who need it most? On top of being a first round draft pick and NFL Super Bowl Champion, Oher created his own foundation and has become a talented and heartfelt storyteller. His incredible story of escaping the cycle of poverty and homelessness to find success through football continues to inspire.
A lot of times, sports fans refer to star athletes as heroes. Melissa Stockwell is not only a hero in an athletic sense; she’s also an American war hero. She is the first female soldier to ever lose a limb in active combat and has been awarded both The Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Stockwell turned to the sport of Paratriathlon and is now a three-time World Champion, currently training for the Paris Games in 2024.
Nancy Kerrigan has been one of America’s most recognizable sports icons for over 25 years. Kerrigan’s rise to competing at a national level began when she placed 3rd at the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, allowing her to qualify for the 1991 World Championships where she won the bronze medal as part of an American sweep. In her post-Olympics career, Kerrigan has created a foundation to raise funds for the vision impaired, appeared on various TV shows, and established herself as a sought after sports motivational speaker.
You’ve probably chanted the name of this legendary underdog before. Against all odds on a gridiron in South Bend, Indiana, Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger carved his name into history books. In the last 27 seconds of the only play in the only game of his college football career, he sacked the quarterback and was carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. As a motivational sports speaker and author, he continues to spread his message of “dream big.”
Scott Hamilton is perhaps the most recognized male figure skating star in the world He has won 70 titles, awards and honors including an Emmy Award nomination, induction into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame and a privileged member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Hamilton further inspires others as a sports motivational speaker, humanitarian, and as three-time cancer and pituitary brain tumor survivor.
Laurie Hernandez is a winner. Since bringing home the gold and silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in gymnastics, Hernandez has gone on to win the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy on “Dancing with the Stars” Season 23. She is also a bestselling author, gymnastics analyst, and popular sports speaker, traveling the country speaking to the next generation about following your dreams and embracing who you are.
Tim Tebow is a two-time national champion, Heisman Trophy winner, first-round NFL draft pick, and a former professional baseball player. The five-time New York Times best-selling author, speaker, and football analyst is most passionate about his work with the Tim Tebow Foundation (TTF), whose mission is to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. Transitioning from the field to the stage, Tebow continues to inspire and uplift.
After turning pro at the age of 16, tennis prodigy Andre Agassi rose to international fame, earning 60 men’s singles titles, including eight Grand Slam singles championships, over a 20-year career. Agassi was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame for the Class of 2011. For over 25 years, his foundation has been promoting education reform and nurturing the next generation of tennis players. Agassi serves up unforgettable talks to audiences of all kinds.
Brandi Chastain is best known for a single iconic moment, when she scored a goal on a penalty kick for the U.S. in the 1999 Women’s World Cup finals against China to secure a victory. But her iconic moments go far beyond that. In 2018 she was elected into the US Soccer Hall of Fame. Chastain now devotes her time to a non-profit she started called BAWSI which helps underserved girls learn leadership and motivational skills through the power of sports.
Straw’s Sweet Swing. Strawberry’s Field Forever. The Legendary Straw Man. Darryl Strawberry has earned many nicknames throughout his time as a Major League Baseball great. As a colon cancer survivor, his story of perseverance and faith in the midst of adversity hits just as hard as his at-bats. As one of the top sports speakers, the story of redemption he shares continues to bring hope to so many lives.
More people will walk on the moon than will do what Alex Honnold has done. He is The only human to free solo Yosemite’s 3,000 foot rock monolith, El Capitan — no rope, climbing alone. Honnold’s extremely rare skill and unmatched mental focus have helped make him climbing’s transcendent breakout star, inspiring millions around the world. When he’s not hanging off the side of a rock face, he works to further solar energy access across the globe through his foundation.
As you look to take your events to the next level and bring a little extra inspiration to your events, these top sports speakers may have that X factor you’ve been looking for. When you’re ready to get started planning your next event, AAE Speakers is here to help.