International sports provide the perfect medium for bridging countries, cultures and peoples. Athletes become tributes to their nation’s’ unity and strength on the global stage. Latinx athletes in particular have a significant role in this relationship as they represent their homes and contribute to international sports.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable Latino players in the NBA, Manu Ginobili has solidified his legacy as one of the most impactful foreign players the league has seen. Practically picked last in the 1999 draft class, Ginobili has earned notable career accomplishments that include 4 NBA Championships, 2 All-Star Team Selections, 2 All-NBA Third Team selections and NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, just to name a few. Ginobili’s accolades go beyond the NBA as he also represented Argentina in the 2004 Olympic Games, where he earned a gold medal, and in 2008 where he earned bronze. Ginobili takes pride in representing Argentina as he will continue to do so once he is selected into the Basketball Hall of Fame when he decides to retire.
In 18 seasons in the Major League Baseball, Roberto Clemente became the first Latino to accumulate 3000 career hits while also being the first Latino to lead his team to a World Championship in 1960. Born in Puerto Rico in 1934, Clemente worked hard his entire life to help his family and, by 1955, he made his major league debut as a Pittsburg Pirate. Clemente had a respectable career as he earned some prestigious accomplishments: 2 World Series championships, 1971 World Series MVP, 15 All-Star selections, 1966 NL MVP and 12 Golden Glove Awards. Though he tragically lost his life at the age of 38, Clemente’s legacy remains vivid as he has helped pave the way for countless Latino players decades later.
Standing at just 5 feet, 17-year-old Laurie Hernandez has already been awarded as one of the world’s top artistic gymnasts. Although she was born and raised in New Jersey, Hernandez is of Puerto Rican descent. In the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Hernandez contributed her talents to the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team as they earned gold medals in the Team All-Around category. As far as for her individual achievement, Hernandez earned a silver medal on the Balance Beam, proudly representing the United States in the process.
Ranking in as ESPN’s Most Famous Athlete of 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo has cemented a worldwide-recognized legacy as one of the greatest soccer players. The Portuguese soccer player has earned sufficient personal honors: 2016 FIFA Ballon d’Or, UEFA Best Player, Best FIFA Men’s Player 2016, UEFA Champions League Top Scorer and Best International Athlete ESPY. His team awards include — UEFA Euro 2016, UEFA, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, and UEFA Super Cup. Ronaldo proudly represents his home country as he is a member of the Portugal National team and Real Madrid club de fútbol.