Top 15 Athletes You Wouldn't Expect to Be Geniuses

Genius comes in many forms, and the intelligence of athletes is particularly unique. Athletes have a special knowledge of what their bodies are capable of and are accustomed to performing complex physical tasks under the most intense circumstances imaginable. While all athletes share this knowledge to varying degrees, their experiences give them a perspective of the media and public that few members of society get to see. Many athletes throughout history have used their knowledge to further their ambitions beyond athletics once their physical peaks have been passed.

In North America, it is common for athletes to attend colleges and universities in pursuit of a higher education and an opportunity to play their sport at a higher level of competition. Athletes typically have extraordinary academic resources at their disposal and many have taken advantage of them to graduate early and pursue multiple degrees. Many of the members of this list have excelled both in the classroom and on the field, which has helped many of them succeed following graduation.

Whether athletes use their minds to succeed in business, entertainment, or other sectors, these athletes have the tools to be successful in several different avenues. They have demonstrated that they are more than a laser-rocket arm and the ability to transform into Beast Mode. They are successful businessmen and entrepreneurs that have used their fame to launch brands and build pizza empires. While the public may not realize it, these individuals are among the most brilliant athletes in sport.

15 Pau Gasol

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Pau Gasol may come across as somewhat aloof, but the Spanish basketball star is one of the more intelligent players in the sport. Gasol currently speaks five languages after teaching himself to speak Italian and French. Prior to being selected in the NBA Draft, Gasol was enrolled as a pre-med student at the University of Barcelona. During a 2010 appearance at a children’s hospital, Gasol quizzed doctors about the treatment of scoliosis and shocked doctors with his knowledge of the subject. He has also celebrated his life as a Renaissance man with a book Pau Gasol Life Vida.

14 Craig Breslow

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

13 Marshawn Lynch

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While Marshawn Lynch’s vocabulary during Super Bowl media appearances may be misleading, the man is actually an intelligent and savvy individual. Lynch used his widely publicized interviews to help launch his BeastMode clothing line, which was in full view while he doled out his canned responses. Demand for these items was so extraordinary that all of his men’s apparel is currently on back order, proving the stunt was an overwhelming success. In a recent interview, Marshawn discussed his intention to return to the University of California: Berkeley to complete his degree in social welfare. Lynch said that he plans to use this knowledge to further his Fam First Foundation to assist youth in the Bay Area.

12 Dikembe Mutombo

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

11 Ryan Newman

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

10 George Parros

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

9 Chris Borland

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

8 Simon Mignolet

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

7 Matt Birk

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

6 Alex Smith

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

5 Steve Nash

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

4 Marion Bartoli

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

3 Richard Sherman

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2 Frank Lampard

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images for Sony

1 Wladimir Klitschko

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The World Heavyweight Champion is not usually a title of academic distinction, but then again Wladimir Klitschko is not your typical boxer. Klitschko, in addition to being undefeated since 2004 and married to Hayden Panettierre, speaks four languages and advocates for democracy in his free time. When not training for title defenses, Klitschko earned his Ph.D. in sports science from Kyiv University after presenting his dissertation. He also found the time along with his brother, Vitali, to help lead the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine. The Doctor lives up to his nickname both inside and outside of the ring.

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Top 15 Athletes You Wouldn't Expect to Be Geniuses