Bigger is better, and the athletes on this list are not only some of the best in their respective sports, but they're also among the biggest, tallest, largest people ever to take to their fields, courts, pitches, and pools. Here are some of the biggest and best athletes in sporting history.
Shaquille O’Neal, 7’1”
Where better to start this list than with Shaq? Standing at an impressive 7'1" tall, and listed as weighing 325lb in his prime, Shaq is a formiddable sight both on and off the basketball court. He is by no means the tallest ever NBA player, but he is certainly one of the most recognizable.
Yao Ming, 7’6”
The tallest player to ever be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Chinese-born Yao Ming is a staggering 7'6" tall. He weighs in at 310lb, 15lb less than Shaq in spite of his greater height (which just goes to show how large Shaq is!).
Maria Sharapova, 6’1”
Former World Number One women's tennis player Maria Sharapova is one of the tallest women ever to play tennis at a professioan level. The Russian-born Olympic gold medalist is 6'1" tall.
Jon Rauch, 6’11”
Baseball players are often built like superheroes, and Jon Rauch is certainly no exception. At 6'11" tall he is tied with newcomer Sean Hjelle as the tallest player ever to play Major League Baseball.
Margo Dydek, 7’2”
Polish-born Margo Dydek was at one point the tallest professional female basketball player in the world. At 7'2" tall, she was an impressive sight, but she sadly passed away in 2011 while working as a coach.
Kerri Walsh Jennings, 6’3”
Kerri Walsh Jennings rightly earned her nickname "Six Feet of Sunshine" by being a professional beach volleyball player who stands at 6'3" tall. She won gold at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics.
Nikolai Valuev, 7’0”
Seen here taking a punch to the face like a literal champ, Nikolai Valuev is both the tallest and the heaviest champion in boxing history. He is 7'0" tall and had a peak weight of 328lb, with a reach of 85 inches.
George Archer, 6’5”
At 6'5" tall and 200lb, George Archer was one of the largest men ever to play professional golf. While he dreamed of a career in basketball as a teenager, he was kicked off his high school basketball team because he missed too many practices due to his golfing commitments.
Jennie Finch, 6’0”
Former professional softball player Jennie Finch is an impressive 6'0" tall. She won gold for team USA in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, and silver at the 2009 Beijing Olympics.
Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, 6’9”
The 6'9" tall Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (also known as Thor) is the only man to have won the Arnold Strongman Classic, the title of Europe's Strongest Man and World's Strongest Man all in the same year. He's most famous, though, for playing The Mountain in "Game of Thrones."
Peter Crouch, 6’7”
A delightful case of nomitive determinism, Peter Crouch certainly does need to crouch to fit in among other professional soccer players. At 6'7" tall, he is among the tallest players ever to play in the English Premiere League. He put his height to good use, and has set the record for the most headers in the history of the league.
Blanka Vlašić, 6’4”
Croatian track and field star Blanka Vlašić is an impressive 6'4" tall. With a height like this, she is a natural at the high jump, and has won multiple Olympic silver and bronze medals, as well as winning several world championships.
Venus Williams, 6'1"
While not quite as successful as her sister Serena, Venus Williams is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. In one aspect, she literally towers over her sister; while Serena is a "mere" 5'9" tall, Venus is an impressive 6'1", making her one of the tallest ever professional female tennis players.
André the Giant, 7'4"
Better known as his stage name André the Giant, André René Roussimoff was a professional wrestler and actor, best known for playing Fezzik in "The Princess Bride." At 7'4" tall and 510lb, he certainly lived up to his nickname.
Kim Glass, 6'3"
Professional volleyball player and model Kim Glass won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. She stands just shy of a mighty 6'3" tall, making her a formidable force on the volleyball court.
Loek van Mil, 7'1"
At 7'1" tall, Loek van Mil was one of the tallest men ever to play professional baseball. Born in the Netherlands, he played professionally around the world including in Japan and the USA. He passed away in 2019.
Ivo Karlović, 6'11"
At 6'11" tall, Croatia-born Ivo Karlović is the joint tallest ranked professional tennis player of all time, an honor he shares with Reilly Opelka. At one time he held the record for the fastest ever tennis serve recorded in professional tennis.
Reilly Opelka, 6'11"
At 6'11" tall, Reilly Opelka is the joint tallest ever ranked professional tennis player, alongside Ivo Karlović. American-born Opelka was once ranked 17th in the world in professional tennis.
Gabrielle Reece, 6'3"
Former professional volleyball player, model, sports commentator and actress Gabrielle Reece has an impressive list of achievements, which pair well with her impressive height of 6'3" tall.
Andy Fordham, 6'2"
Commonly known by his nickname The Viking, English-born professional darts player Andy Fordham was a big man, standing at 6'2" tall and at one point weighing 445lb. He worked hard to lose a lot of this weight in his later life, but died in 2021 after living for a while with multiple health conditions.
Nicole Forrester, 6'4"
High jump star Nicole Forrester has a personal best jump of 1.97 meters (6'4"). She is 6'3" tall, which means she could jump over her own head when at her peak.
Sharran Alexander, 6'0"
In 2013, the Guinness Book of World Records named British-born sumo wrestler Sharran Alexander as the heaviest sportswoman in the world. At 6'0" tall and weighing 448lb, she is an impressive wrestler who took up the sport late in life when her children signed her up for a reality television show, "Strictly Lady Sumo."
Stefan Struve, 7'0"
Former UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve stands at 7'0" tall, making him the tallest fighter in the history of the UFC. The dutch mixed martial artist is now retired, but at his peak weighed in at 265lb.
John Daly, 5'11"
John Daly is a successful professional golfer who has earned the nickname Long John for his particularly long driving distance off the tee. While he is not massively tall (5'11"), he is somewhat heavier than most golfers, weighing in at 250lb. This size doesn't negatively affect his performance (nor does his smoking habit), a rarity in professional sport.
Eric Esch, 5'11"
Known affectionally by the nickname Butterbean, Eric Esch is a retired mixed martial artist who is known for his large size. Weighing 378lb and standing at 5'11" tall with a 78" reach, he has competed as a professional boxer, kickboxer, MMA fighter, and professional wrestler.
Candace Parker, 6'4"
WNBA player Candace Parker currently plays for the Chicago Sky. She is 6'4" tall and her registered weight is 184lb.
Konishiki Yasokichi, 6'0"
Konishiki Yasokichi, born Saleva'a Fuauli Atisano'e but better known as the Dump Truck or the Meat Bomb, stands at 6'1/2" tall and in his prime weighed 633lb. Yasokichi was born in Hawaii, and was the first foreigner to reach the coveted level of ōzeki within the Japanese sport of sumo.
Randy Johnson, 6'10"
When Randy Johnson, aka The Big Unit, first began his career in Major League Baseball, he was the tallest player in the history of the league. In 2004 at age 40, this 6'10" tall man became the oldest player in the history of the league to ever pitch a perfect game.
Usain Bolt, 6'5"
Eight-time Olympic gold medallist Ussain Bolt is the only sprinter to ever win 100m and 200m gold medals in three consecutive Olympic games. His speed is no doubt aided by the fact that he is incredibly tall, standing at 6'5".
Lisa Leslie, 6'5"
Lisa Leslie was the very first woman to dunk in a WNBA game. This was achieved in part due to her impressive height of 6'5". She has regularly been voted one of the most influential women in the history of basketball.
Aaron Sandilands, 6'11"
Former Australian rules football player Aaron Sandilands is an impressive 6'11" tall, and with a peak weight during his career of 265lb, he is the second heaviest player in the history of the Australian Football League.
Mohammad Irfan, 7'1"
At 7'1", Pakistani-born Mohammad Irfan is the tallest ever player of cricket on the international circuit. Before going pro, he worked in a pipe factory, earning 300 rupees (around $3) a week.
Brittney Griner, 6'9"
Currently playing for the Phoenix Mercury, Brittney Griner is one of the tallest players in the WNBA at the moment. She stands at an impressive 6'9" tall and weighs in at 205lb.
Lacina Traore, 6'8"
Lacina Traore is an Ivorian soccer player who currently plays for the Portuguese team Varzim S.C. and is known by the nickname Big Tree. He stands at 6'8" tall.
Yvette Tulip Hlaváčová, 6'4"
Yvette Tulip Hlaváčová is a former Olympic swimmer who has successfully swum the English channel three times. She is 6'4" tall and during her professional career weighed 174lb.
Zdeno Chára, 6'9"
Slovakian hockey player Zdeno Chára, nicknamed Big Z, is the tallest player in the history of the NHL, standing at 6'9" tall, and weighing 150lb. At 45 years of age, he's also the oldest player currently active in the NHL.
Choi Hong-man, 7'2"
Korean mixed martial artist Choi Hong-man stands at an impressive 7'2" tall, with a 93" reach, and weighs 375lb. His skills at kickboxing and mixed martial arts have earned him the nicknames Techno Goliath and Korean Colossus.
Rik Smits, 7'4"
Standing at 7'4" tall and weighing in at 250lb during his career, Dutch basketball player Rik Smits played for the Indiana Pacers from 1988 to 2000.
Jan Koller, 6'8"
Born in Prague in 1973, the 6'8" Jan Koller set a record as the top goal scorer of all time for the Czech national soccer team, with 55 goals over the course of 91 matches.
Michael Phelps, 6'4"
The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps set an all time record of twenty three gold medals over the course of his career as a swimmer. At 6'4" tall and 194lb, he's far from the largest athlete on this list, but he still towers over most of the population.
Eddy Curry, 7'0"
With an NBA career that saw him playing for the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat, the New York Giants, and the Dallas Mavericks before heading to the Chinese basketball leage, Eddy Curry travelled around a lot. He stands at 7'0" tall and during his career had a peak weight of 295lb.
Logan Ondrusek, 6'6"
Logan Ondrusek has played in Major League Baseball for the Cincinatti Reds and the Baltimore Orioles, and has also played in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan and, most recently, the Chinese Professional Baseball League. He stands at 6'6" tall.
Ed Jones, 6'9"
Ed "Too Tall" Jones lives up to his nickname, standing at 6'9" in height with a peak weight during his NFL career of 271lb. He played fifteen seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, and also had a brief stint as a boxer.
Kevin Garnett, 6'11"
Kevin Garnett, aka Big Ticket, played twenty one seasons in the NBA, starting in 1995 and ending in 2016. He is an impressive 6'11" tall and during his career weighed 240lb.
Pau Gasol, 7'1"
Spanish-born basketball player Pau Gasol was the first foreign player to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2002 with the Memphis Grizzles. He stands at 7'1" tall, making him slightly taller than his brother, Marc Gasol, who is also a professional basketball player.
Marc Gasol, 6'11"
Pau Gasol's little brother (both in terms of age and height) Marc has also enjoyed an illustrious NBA career. In 2013 he was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year with the Mephis Grizzles. He stands at 6'11" tall.
Paul Soliai, 6'4"
At 6'4" in height, Paul Soliai is not the tallest athlete on this list. He is, however, one of the heaviest, weighing in at 345lb during his NFL career.
Dwight Howard, 6'10"
Eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard won his first NBA championship in 2020 with the LA Lakers. He stands at 6'10" tall and weighs 265lb.
Andrew Bynum, 7'0"
Former NBA player Andrew Bynum played for the LA Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Indiana Pacers before his retirement. He is 7'0" tall and during his career weighed 285lb.
Roy Hibbert, 7'2"
Former NBA player Roy Hibbert played for the LA Lakers for most of his career. Despite being born in the USA, he also represented the Jamaican national team due to his dual citizenship. He is 7'2" tall and during his career weighed 270lb.