Top 5 List: State’s Worldwide Icons

The coronavirus pandemic might have thrown an almighty spanner in the works of sporting events but rather than speculate over what might be, here’s a change of pace and look at some of the biggest names to have emerged from California high schools. These are five men who’ve led the world — and one who changed baseball forever.

Two consecutive California Mr Basketball awards while with St Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda set up Kidd for a three-year stint with the University of California Golden Bears in college and then came a round one draft pick from the Dallas Mavericks – for whom he played for over two spells. All in all, Kidd spent 19 years as a player in the NBA pulling on four different jerseys and winning the championship in 2011 as well as playing in the All-Star game 10 times. Kidd was also part of the US squad that won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2008 and he now passes his experience on as assistant coach for the LA Lakers. Before that, Jason was head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks where he’s credited with helping develop the superstar skills of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Jackie Robinson is shown at Muir High School (Pasadena). Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.

Legend is a word that’s thrown around too freely these days but what actually makes someone worthy of the title? Reaching six World Series and winning one? Being named MVP and playing in six back to back All-Star games? Having your number retired? Being the first African-American to play and star in MLB? Being inducted into the Hall of Fame? Or perhaps it’s having an entire day named in your honor? Well, Robinson, who went to Pasadena’s John Muir high school, achieved it all during a 10-year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

DiMaggio has something unique compared to the others on this list – he decided against finishing high school at Galileo High (San Francisco) and opted for menial work instead, but he soon turned his hand to professional baseball.
His stint with the New York Yankees was interrupted by war but in a 13-year spell he proved an All-Star ever present, won nine World Series and was named the MLB betting MVP on three occasions. He also owns the proud record of a 56-game hitting streak.

The Granada Hills High School grad prior to heading to Stanford finished as runner up to Georgia running back Herschel Walker for the Heisman Trophy. It was Elway and not Walker, however, who was selected as the number one draft pick in 1983. The quarterback spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos winning back to back Super Bowls – in 1998 and 1999 – and was named the game’s MVP in the 1999 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Elway was a picture of consistency throughout his career and featured in the Pro Bowl on nine occasions and scooped up the MVP award in 1987.

Do sports stars come bigger than Tiger? We’re not convinced they do and he certainly can make an argument for the top spot on this list. Woods spent his formative years in Orange County and went to Western High School in Anaheim; although, to be fair, he was heading to the top long before then. After showing a lot of promise as a youngster, his first strides onto the pro scene were made back in 1996 where he was named Rookie of the PGA tour and by 2006, he had been named worldwide Athlete of the Year four times. Across his career he’s racked up an almighty list of titles including 41 European tours and a record equalling 82 PGA tour titles – not half bad for a man who has missed a lot of golf through injury.

There you have it, five names that came through California high schools before going on to become household names across the globe.

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