Despite his notable vices, which he has never attempted to hide, Daly has won five PGA Tour events, including two majors. With his grip-it-and-rip-it game, Daly broke through with a victory in the 1991 PGA Championship despite being the last alternate in the field. He won Tour Rookie of the Year that season. Daly claimed his second major in 1995, winning the British Open at St. Andrews. His last PGA Tour win came in the Buick Invitational in 2004.
2 of 20Hulton Archive/Getty Images
#19: John L. Sullivan
Sullivan was the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing before losing the title to James Corbett in September 1892, his first and only career loss. The Boston Strong Boy won the belt as heavyweight champion in August 1887, defeating Dominick McCaffrey by knockout in the sixth round. Sullivan was also the last heavyweight champion of bare-knuckle boxing and the first American athlete to earn $1 million in career prize money.
3 of 20Joseph Costa/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
#18: Billy Conn
The Pittsburgh Kid held the title of light heavyweight champion for nearly a year between July 1939 and June 1940 and was named Ring Magazine's Fighter of the Year in 1940. Conn gave up his light heavyweight title to challenge Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship, attempting to become the first light heavyweight champion to jump to heavyweight champion. Conn didn't even go up in weight for the fight but was leading the fight after 12 rounds when he tried for a knockout in round 13 and got knocked out himself. He won 64 of his 77 career fights.
4 of 20Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images; John Super/AP
#17: Roy Keane
The Irish midfielder captained Manchester United in the English Premier League from 1997 until he left the club in 2005. Keane guided the team to an incredible treble, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League in 1998-99. No team had ever won all three in the same season before. In his 12 full seasons with Manchester United, the club won seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the one Champions League. In international play, Keane was the top player for the Irish squad that reached the Round of 16 at the 1994 World Cup.
5 of 20John Biever and Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated
#16: McKayla Maroney
Maroney may be more famous for her displeasure with her silver medal, but the gymnast is still a gold medalist, helping the Fierce Five win the team competition at the 2012 London Games with a vault score of 16.233, the highest score in the competition. She took the silver in the individual vault final when she fell on her second vault.
6 of 20AP
#15: James Braddock
A streak of 20 losses in 33 fights in the midst of the Great Depression forced Braddock onto welfare and into a job as a longshoreman. Braddock's boxing fortunes turned around in 1934 as he embarked on a remarkable comeback, stunning Max Baer in June 1935 to win the world heavyweight title in a unanimous decision. His incredible turnaround was captured in the 2005 film "Cinderella Man."
7 of 20Manny Millan for Sports Illustrated
#14: Jason Kidd
With 12,091 assists in his NBA career, Kidd sits second on that list behind John Stockton. He led the league in assists five times, including a career-best 10.8 per game in the lockout shortened 1998-99 season. Capable of far more than passing, Kidd has also averaged 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his career and made five All-Defensive first teams. The 10-time All-Star spent his prime with the Phoenix Suns and the New Jersey Nets, and became head coach of the Brooklyn Nets after his final season as a player.
8 of 20Walter Iooss Jr. for Sports Illustrated; Sean Rowland/ASP via Getty Images
#13: Kelly Slater
The greatest surfer of all time has been crowned the ASP World Champion a record 11 times, winning five straight titles from 1994 to 1998. Slater has won 68 events in his career, including 54 on the World Championship Tour. He holds the record as both the youngest and the oldest world champion, earning his first title at age 20 and his most recent at 39.
9 of 20Sean Sexton/Getty Images
#12: Pat O'Callaghan
After he and his two brothers paid their own way to go to the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, O'Callaghan won the first gold medal for the independent Ireland in the hammer throw. Using the hammer of the then-leader Oissian Skoeld, O'Callaghan recorded a throw of 168 feet and seven inches to raise the Irish flag for the first time at an Olympic medal ceremony. O'Callaghan defended his title four years later, winning the gold medal in Los Angeles.
10 of 20Paul Kennedy and John Iacono for Sports Illustrated
#11: Kevin McHale
The No. 3 overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft lived up to his billing, making seven All-Star games in his 13-year Hall of Fame career. McHale averaged 17.9 points per game in his career and paired with Larry Bird to lead the Boston Celtics to three NBA titles. His standout defense, which Charles Barkley said gave him nightmares, earned McHale three first-team All-Defensive selections. The Celtics retired his No. 32 jersey.
11 of 20Richard Meek for Sports Illustrated
#10: Ron Delany
The first Irish-born athlete on this list, Delany became an Olympic hero for his nation in 1956. After struggling to make the national team for the Melbourne Summer Olympics, Delany won the country's first gold medal since 1932, winning the 1500 meters. Delany upset the heavily favored Australian John Landy, keeping with Landy before pulling ahead on the final lap to set an Olympic record. Delaney's gold was Ireland's last until Michael Carruth topped the podium in boxing in 1992.
12 of 20AP
#9: Jack Dempsey
Dempsey won the world heavyweight title in 1919 and didn't let it go until 1926. A powerful puncher, Dempsey won 51 of his 65 professional victories by knockout and lost just six times in his career. He was a star of the 1920s, drawing such a following that the gate from his bout with Georges Carpentier in July 1921 topped $1 million. Dempsey won the fight by knockout in the fourth round in front of a crowd of 91,000.
13 of 20Gregory Heisler for Sports Illustrated
#8: Derek Jeter
When Jeter hung up his spikes last season, he went down in Yankee lore as one of the greatest to ever wear the pinstripes. A Yankee throughout his career, Jeter retired with 3,465 hits, 1,923 runs and 358 stolen bases. The shortstop made 14 All-Star Games and led the Yankees to five World Series.
14 of 20Walter Iooss Jr.(3), Steve Powell(2) and Manny Millan for Sports Illustrated
#7: John McEnroe
The notoriously indignant McEnroe won 77 singles titles in his career, including seven Grand Slams. Counting doubles and mixed doubles titles, McEnroe won 17 Grand Slam tournaments. He recorded arguably the greatest season in tennis history in 1984, when he won 96.47% of his matches, including Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles. The excellent volleyer had fantastic rivalries with Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl in his career.
15 of 20John G. Zimmerman for Sports Illustrated
#6: Ben Hogan
A nine-time major champion, Hogan honed his game on the course so much he was said to have invented golf practice. He recorded 68 professional wins, including 64 on the PGA Tour, fourth most all time. Hogan became the first golfer to win three majors in a year and could have won four had the PGA Championship not overlapped with the British Open in 1953. That year Hogan won five of the six tournaments he entered.
16 of 20Hy Peskin for Sports Illustrated
#5: Whitey Ford
The Hall of Fame pitcher led the American League in wins three times in his 16-year Major League career. Ford made eight All-Star Games and won the 1961 Cy Young Award when he won 25 games and pitched 283 innings. He helped the Yankees win six World Series.
17 of 20Peter Read Miller for Sports Illustrated; Marc Serota/Reuters
#4: John Elway
It took Elway until the penultimate year of his career to win a Super Bowl, but his prowess as a quarterback began far earlier. Fourth all time in passing yards and seventh in touchdown passes, Elway quickly established himself as an elite quarterback in his 16-year career.
18 of 20Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated
#3: Michael Phelps
The most decorated Olympian of all time also has more gold medals than anyone, with 18 coming from three Olympic appearances. Phelps delighted a nation in 2008 by winning a gold medal in each of his eight events at the Beijing Summer Olympics, setting a world-record time in seven of them.
19 of 20Simon Bruty for Sports Illustrated
#2: Tom Brady
He's not retired yet, but Brady has already ignited discussions of where he ranks among the all-time greatest quarterbacks. The former sixth-round draft pick has led the New England Patriots to four Super Bowl titles, while winning two MVP awards, three Super Bowl MVP awards, and making 11 Pro Bowls. His 58,028 career passing yards rank fifth all-time and his 50 touchdown passes in 2007 ranks second to Peyton Manning's 55 in 2013.
20 of 20Neil Leifer for Sports Illustrated
#1: Muhammad Ali
Although of predominantly African-American descent, Ali had a great-grandfather who emigrated from Ireland in the 1860s. The great boxer won 56 of his 61 career fights and was the heavyweight champion of the world three times. A charismatic showman as well, Ali won nearly all of the most hyped bouts of his career, including the Thrilla in Manila and the Rumble in the Jungle.
You May Like
More Sports Illustrated
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!