Sports

7 Pro Athlete Friends Who Inspire Us on National Friendship Day

LeBron James and Dwayne Wade displayed their friendship by exchanging jerseys after a game

The world of sports is surprisingly full of friendships that show fans the value of having a great friend. The first Sunday of August is National Friendship Day and what better way to celebrate than taking a look at some of the best friendships in sports history. Here are seven pro athlete friends who inspire us on National Friendship Day.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James won two NBA Finals together and played in two more from 2010-2014, but their friendship runs much deeper than that. This partnership began when the two were just entering the league and continued when they played together for the gold medal in the 2008 Olympics.

Rumor has it they made a pact at the Olympics, along with Chris Bosh, to join forces at some point in their careers. They did just that to great effect. Even after James left the Heat, the two have stayed close. Now their sons will team up on the same high school basketball team ushering in the next era of athlete friends.

Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus

Third baseman Adrian Beltre retired last year after a long run for the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers. Beltre had many memorable moments over the course of his career, but one of the defining hallmarks of it was his playful and sometimes adversarial friendship with Rangers’ shortstop Elvis Andrus. Beltre has an aversion to having his head touched which Andrus took advantage of numerous times for comic effect.

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield

Of all the friendships on this list, none began with more acrimony than that of Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. Tyson was one of the best boxers in the late ’80s and after a prison sentence, had stormed back onto the heavyweight title scene in the mid-’90s. In Tyson’s absence, Holyfield had emerged alongside other top contenders like Riddick Bowe and Lennox Lewis.

The boxers took part in two epic confrontations for the heavyweight championship, the second bout ending when a frustrated Tyson bit a chunk of Holyfield’s ear off. Tyson would be disqualified and disgraced. Holyfield would be hailed as a hero who stood up to a bully.

More than twenty years later, the two have buried the hatchet and are now on great terms. They even filmed a funny commercial together lampooning the incident.

Peyton Manning and Eli Manning

There’s been no sibling rivalry between the Manning brothers. Both Peyton and Eli Manning have expressed support for each other’s careers through the years. One particularly touching moment from the duo’s friendship was when Peyton congratulated Eli at his locker after the New York Giants beat the previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl 42.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

These two represent not just two of the greatest men’s tennis players of all time, but also one of the great rivalries. It’s as good, if not better than Agassi-Sampras or McEnroe-Connors. They’ve had multiple showdowns throughout the years and having such a highly contested rivalry could lead to bitter feelings in some men.

But not these two. By all accounts, they hold each other in high regard and have spoken glowingly about each other during interviews. The mutual respect they have is clear.

Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada

During their playing days, these two New York Yankee legends were part of the team’s “Core Four” along with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Off the field, they’ve remained the best of friends. Derek Jeter is now part owner of the Miami Marlins, and in that role, he hired Jorge Posada earlier this year as a special advisor for baseball operations. 

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird

This epic rivalry began when these two NBA legends played for the NCAA men’s basketball championship for Indiana State and Michigan State. It culminated in five NBA Finals’ matchups and an enduring bond that lasts to this day.