Staff Writer: Justin Whitner
An athlete can have an effect on the character, development or behavior of someone
else or something. In the 2010s, there were hundreds of events, statements and moments that
impacted people all over the world. In football, basketball, track and gymnastics, black athletes
have inspired people worldwide. Let’s take a look at 10 athletes and what they did this decade
to influence many generations moving forward.
Russell Wilson: In the Super Bowl era, there have only been two black quarterbacks to win a
Super Bowl. Doug Williams won in the 1987 season, and Russell Wilson won in 2013. A family
man who is one of the most positive players in the sport, Wilson is living nearly a perfect
Cam Newton: The NFL MVP of the 2015 season who won the national championship for the
Auburn Tigers, Newton hosted his 8th Annual Cam’s Thanksgiving Jam in 2019, where he
treated more than 1,300 underprivileged children and their families to an all-out feast.
Odell Beckham Jr: OBJ is one of the NFL’s most popular players. It began with “the catch”
against the Dallas Cowboys on “Sunday Night Football,” and continued to the dance moves in
online videos and in the end zone.
Russell Westbrook: To accomplish something that hasn’t been done since 1962 is remarkable,
but to do it more than once is something special. Furthermore, he honored Nipsey Hussle in a
game where he accumulated a 20/20/20 game that hadn’t been done since Wilt Chamberlain.
“Twenty plus 20 plus 20,” Westbrook told TNT’s Jason Terry during an on-court postgame
interview. “They know what that means, man, and that’s for my bro,” he said, according to The
Tiger Woods: Tiger Woods is this generation’s icon in golfing, and his comeback story in the
2019 Masters was the tip of the iceberg.
Usain Bolt: “The Fastest Man Alive” is said to have saved athletics. He brought the love back to
track for many people, but his legacy lived on further in Jamaica. Don Quarrie was one of
Jamaica's best-known track and field athletes after he won gold in the 200 meters at the 1976
Olympics, and he knew about the impact of Bolt. "Everybody from every part of the world knows
where Jamaica is right now, and everyone knows who Usain Bolt is, and it's not just because of
his speed but because they're captivated by whom he is," Quarrie told CBC.
Simone Biles: The most decorated Olympic gymnast ever, Biles can be in the discussion for
the greatest athletes ever. At 22 years of age, Biles surpassed Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo's
record for the 23 world medals he won in the 1990s.
Serena Williams: Pure dominance in the sport of tennis, Williams has won an Open Era-record
23 Grand Slam singles titles. One of her biggest stories is her 14-month maternity leave
comeback, where she returned just as dominant.
Colin Kaepernick: Kneeling during the national anthem led to many things that were not
always pretty for Kaepernick. His impact did not stop when he was no longer in the NFL. What
Kaepernick did began a whole revolution, and he will forever be a legend for the way he spoke
about how he felt.
LeBron James: From his I Promise School to the “I Am More than an Athlete,” there isn’t
another athlete who is as impactful off the court in his community as he is on it. “I will not shut
up and dribble,” James told ESPN’s Undefeated. “I mean too much to my family and all these
other kids that look up to me for inspiration and try to find a way out.”