The 30 Biggest Badasses in Sports Right Now
Have you taken a bullet to the leg and gone to work the next day?
If you answered "yes," congratulations: you, my friend, are a badass. (But you're still not as metal as one of the Billy B.A.'s you'll find in this slideshow.)
The following are the biggest badasses in sports right now. I repeat, these are athletes and sports figures laughing at death and stomping mud holes in the competition as of this very moment.
They are the undaunted men and women of the now, and if you see them coming your way, bow your head and protect your neck.
DeLino DeShields Jr.
In the face? In the face.
Double-A ballplayer DeLino Shields Jr. took a 90 mph fastball to the cheek during a recent at-bat for the Corpus Christi Hooks.
The ball fractured DeShields' cheek and caused his face to swell up like sweet papaya. However, he left the field under his own power and was at the ballpark for his team's next game.
Level of Badassity: Velociraptor shin-kicking competition.
Have you ever been swarmed by hornets? You know, those giant, bee-like mutants you pray never attack you en masse?
Pablo Larrazabal lived this nightmare, and he still made the cut at a recent golf tournament.
The Spanish golfer was bum-rushed by a stream of the transient insects at the Malaysia Open. The hornets stung him so many times that Larrazabal was forced to jump in a water hazard to escape. The Spaniard eventually climbed out of the water and went on to birdie his next hole. He shot a 68 on the round and managed to stay alive for moving day.
Level of Badassity: Elk-meat pizza delivered by Rodan.
The only thing more badass than battling cancer is battling cancer with a flaming double ax named "Oath Sunder."
Seeing as the universe is low on burning, mythical weapons, it can be said that Chuck Pagano did the next most gnarly thing he could do: kick cancer in the bean trundle and and lead an NFL franchise.
Keep doing you, Chuck. We're all pulling for you.
Level of Badassity: Best friend who's good at math and also a dragon.
Jamaal Charles will run past you, around you and, oh yeah, he'll knock you the hell out.
Level of Badassity: Honey-badger headbutt.
GIF courtesy of Sam Monson of Pro Football Talk.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair ligmanents in her right elbow, All-State softball pitcher Sierra Amundson decided to make a change.
Unable to bear the prospect of sitting out all season for rehab, the Central Cass High School student started throwing with her left hand.
"It is hard for me to sit and watch when I want to play so bad," Amundson told The Forum of Fargo-Morehead (h/t Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports). "So I told myself, 'I'll just switch hands. It can't be that hard.'"
The best part? She's getting good enough to start.
Level of Badassery: Trained attack poodle.
He's not winning tournaments, but John Daly continues to be golf's crazy, scheme-hatching uncle.
Earlier this month, he renewed his badass license by smoking a tee shot off a woman's mouth. He simply placed his ball, gave his club a waggle and BOOM.
Zero hesitation. Grip it and rip it. Flawless victory.
Level of Badassity: Playing the Old Course with John Daly, Michael Jordan and a bottle of Fireball.
"As soon as the puck hit me, my teeth instantly flew out."
These are the words of Mitch Callahan, via Peter J. Wallner of MLive.com. Callahan is a forward for the Grand Rapids Griffins, and he'll be needing a new mouth after taking a hard slap shot to the jaw early this April.
The puck broke Callahan's jaw and knocked out around 10 or so of his teeth. He doesn't really know how many he lost yet, but judging by the NSFW picture he tweeted to his followers, he's missing around the amount of teeth you lose in a bad dream.
The badass part of this situation was the forward's attitude throughout the process. His foremost concern was getting back in the game, which he would have done had the team doctor not told him he needed immediate surgery.
Level of Badassity: Slide-tackling a lawnmower.
Lets make one thing clear: Michael Sam was a badass before outing himself.
Anyone who wins SEC Defensive Player of the Year is one tough cut of hardtack. However, the Missouri defensive end cemented himself as a dyed-in-the-wool badass by having the courage to tell the world he plans to be the first openly gay man in the NFL.
He could've kept quiet, but he instead chose to open himself up to a world of criticism and a potential drop in his draft stock so that others could see it's OK to be themselves.
Level of Badassity: Driving range overlooking an active volcano.
No one would've blamed Jack Jablonski had he called it quits after a high-school hockey hit left him paralyzed in 2011.
That's not how Jablonski plays ball, though. Where others would've walked away from sports, Jablonski pulled a hot route and became the voice of a weekly hockey talk show. This March he invited Michelle Beadle to prom. Naturally, she said yes.
Why? Because spines are flimsy and trivial when you're a guy with cast-iron fruit like Jablonski.
Level of Badassity: William Taft truffle shuffle.
Cancer? Craig Sager can tangle with that. What he won't settle for are sappy handouts.
The NBA sideline reporter/sartorial master will miss the 2014 NBA playoffs in order to undergo treatment for leukemia, but he asked that his comedic foil Gregg Popovich not take it lightly on him once he's back on his feet.
In an interview with Sager's son on Sunday, the Spurs head coach broke from his usual gruffness to speak his support for Sager. Pop wished the reporter well and claimed he'd be nicer from now on.
It was a kind gesture, Pop—but Sager ain't having none of it.
"If I come back and Pop starts being nice to me, it just wouldn't be right," Sager said, via Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. "I want him to go Serbian [Popovich's father was Serbian] on me."
Level of Badassity: Flamethrower laser tag.
You can't spell Beast Mode without "B.A."
Level of Badassity: Beef jerky Fruit by the Foot.
He collapsed on the field, had aortic heart valve surgery and returned to coach his team to a Super Bowl all in the same season.
Factor in the part where John Fox recovered at a hospital under the false name "Johnny Drama," and you know the Denver Broncos head coach is one awesomely tough S.O.B.
Level of Badassity: Bunker-busting taco bomb; it penetrates concrete and delivers a tasty payload of fresh Mexican food.
Being one of the first to do something never done before requires bravery—something Derrick Gordon didn't know he had until recently.
After years of keeping to himself in the hopes of maintaining his secret, the UMass point guard came out to the media in April and thus became the first openly gay Division I men's college basketball player in history.
We all look forward to the day when admitting your sexual preference is no longer newsworthy or courageous. Until then, the first through the door deserve respect for having the guts to lead the charge.
Level of Badassity: Nicolas Cage fight.
Despite being summarily crushed by the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning has had one hell of a ride over the last year.
Few men possess the brains and the biscuits to come back from a crippling neck injury and lead their team to an NFL championship game. The man had his vertebrae soldered together like a broken rain gutter and still threw 55 touchdowns last year.
High school kids can keep the Cam Newtons and Johnny Manziels of the game as their Facebook cover photo, but college quarterbacks looking for a spot in the league wear Peyton Manning pajamas to bed.
Level of Badassity: There's a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence Peyton Manning's forehead.
Serge swats. Serge blocks.
Of all the big men feeling themselves in the NBA right now, none exhibit the flair Serge Ibaka shows for the big block. He's out there giving the Mutombo finger wag, and for that he deserves credit.
Level of Badassity: Pad Thai flavored Jolly Ranchers.
It's easy to be a badass when you're almost a foot taller than everyone else.
Nonetheless, Zdeno Chara continues to show just how little he fears physical reprisal from his opponents. The Bostons Bruins captain literally laughed in Brendan Smith's face when the Red Wings defenseman came at him throwing fists during Game 2 of their playoffs series on Sunday.
It was like watching a ogre play with a hobbit—a 6'1" hobbit.
Level of Badassity: Bratwurst nunchuks.
People in Hell will take ice water, but they'd prefer the fluid running through T.J. Oshie's veins.
The St. Louis Blues right winger came up huge in the clutch at the Sochi Olympics, scoring four goals on six shootout attempts against Russia and helping solidify the U.S. men's hockey team's place at the top of their group.
Level of Badassity: Peter Dinklage.
The flat nosed veteran is back on track.
After three consecutive losses, Dan Henderson came back and stunned Mauricio Rua at UFC Fight Night 38 with a flurry of dynamite punches to the head. He's like the opposite of Walker and Texas Ranger.
He might be old, but he'll beat your lumpy butt.
Level of Badassity: Hang-gliding with Clyde Drexler.
After two years of sitting on the sideline and furiously rehabbing an exploded knee, 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore is ready to step back into the spotlight.
The former Gamecocks power back showed he had talent to spare while playing at the University of South Carolina, but he hasn't taken a snap in a game since suffering a horrific injury against Tennessee in October 2012. It was his second major leg injury of his college career, and it was seemingly the death blow to his hopes of playing in the NFL.
The 49ers took a chance on the South Carolina prospect in the 2013 draft, however, and if they manage to trade scat back LaMichael James in the offseason, Lattimore could slide into the third spot in the team's backfield depth chart in 2014.
Bernard Hopkins is not a human; he's a cyborg of some kind with a convincing skin substitute stretching over a titanium exoskeleton.
How else can you explain a 49-year-old man destroying a fighter nearly 20 years his junior? Hopkins can sum his decision defeat over Beibut Shumenov quite easily, as it happens.
"I am special," Hopkins said after defeating the 30-year-old Kazakh in April and unifying light heavyweight world titles, per ESPN.com's Dan Rafael. "I don't have to explain special...special speaks for itself. I had a great night. I am a great champion."
Level of Badassity: Omar Little.
What Calvin's Grant VanPutten did this April is a miracle.
Sure, stealing home for a walk-off victory is Robert De Niro cool, but the unbelievable part was VanPutten's slide. How he managed to dive headfirst into home plate without his heavy, pendulous guava digging dual trenches in the base path has to be against the laws of physics.
Level of Badassity: Master Splinter saving you from muggers with ninja stars made out of pizza.
Billy Hamilton is the baseball equivalent of a Dodge Tomahawk—incredibly fast, extremely badass and not built for leisurely commutes.
Level of Badassity: Ragnar Lothbrook.
Not the former Wildcat. I'm talking about Troy's Terrence Jones, a hulking man-mountain who can squat the weight of an adolescent kodiak bear.
The Troy offensive lineman put up 810 pounds during a recent weight-lifting session. The scary part is he looks like he could do more.
Level of Badassity: Power Rangers Megazord formed by Inside the NBA anchors.
This Little Girl
Mutton bustin' is a contact sport for children. A few toddlers are going to get dinged up when you place them on a wild, bucking animal.
While all of the children at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show are USDA-certified B.A.s, this particularly youngster is the John Wayne of mutton taming. She fell under her charging lamb, which subsequently tripped and plowed her into the red earth.
Naturally, when adults pulled her out of the ground, she had a big smile plastered on her face.
Level of Badassity: Mutton bustin' is its own level of badass.
Still destroying faces. Still undefeated.
Ronda Rousey continues to handle every poor soul that ends up in the cage with her. We can only hope her recent inflammatory remarks to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole (h/t MMA Junkie's Steven Marrocco and Dann Stupp) earn her the match the world wants to see: a knockdown drag-out with with Cris "Cyborg" Justino.
Level of Badassity: The Brady Bunch recast with the Wu-Tang Clan.
We'll see how well Albert Pujols holds up over the course of the season, but right now he's sparking heat at the plate.
The Los Angeles Angels first baseman is off to a fantastic start in 2014, knocking out eight homers and 19 RBI in the early going. Pujols also became the newest member of the 500 home run club after, cranking out his 499th and 500th career homers against the Nationals on Tuesday night.
Level of Badassity: Duke Nukem pajamas.
Through the two playoff games, LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 44.5 points per contest.
Sure, it's only two games, but those are Michael Jordan numbers, and it's not like the Portland Trail Blazers big man hasn't played at a high level throughout most of this 2013-14 season.
Level of Badassity: Gus Johnson on the call for your best parallel-park job.
Like a giant, honking evergreen of badassity, Phil Jackson continues his streak of giving zero damns and doing whatever it is Phil wants.
Naturally, his acceptance of a carte blanche front-office position with the New York Knicks is just the latest and greatest example of Jackson making the NBA his personal sandbox.
All hail President Jackson.
Level of Badassity: Bacon-flavored mouthwash.
Nine days after taking a bullet to the leg, Chicago high schooler Tyquone Greer nailed a three-point game winner to vault his team into state championship contention.
Let me reiterate: he was shot and he managed to hobble out and drop a dagger less than a week-and-a-half after the incident. Someone get this guy a juice box and a bigger set of trousers.
Level of Badassity: Dance-off against the Pope.
On Twitter, where everyone wants to be a badass.
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