NEXT Athlete

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The NEXT Athlete award is given out every year by ESPN the Magazine to one or more athletes chosen as a future leader or trailblazer in their sport.[1] The winning athlete(s) is featured on the cover of the late January issue of ESPN the Magazine.

Historically, the winners of this award have gone on to exceptional careers, or at the very least early success in their careers, with the exception of a few.

Past Winners/Nominees[edit]

Year Athlete Follow-Up/Career Highlights
1998 Kobe Bryant, G, Los Angeles Lakers Along with Shaquille O'Neal, led the Lakers to three NBA Championships from 2000-2002. Set second highest single game scoring mark with 81 pts scored against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006. 07-08 NBA MVP
Alex Rodriguez, SS, Seattle Mariners Three-time AL MVP, Signed the largest contract in MLB history.
Kordell Stewart, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers Never achieved QB rating higher than 82.8 as a starter. Played as a quarterback, running back, receiver, and returner during his career.
Eric Lindros, C, Philadelphia Flyers Six-time all-star, Hart Memorial Trophy recipient for MVP
1999 Keith Van Horn, F, Philadelphia 76ers 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting behind Tim Duncan. Had moderately successful career with five different teams
Randy Moss, WR, Minnesota Vikings Five-time Pro Bowler; Set records for touchdowns and receiving yards for a rookie and broke record for most receiving touchdowns in a season.
2000 Vince Carter, G/F, Toronto Raptors 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year. 2000 Slam Dunk Contest Champion. Seven-time All-Star
2001 Yao Ming, C, Houston Rockets #1 NBA Draft Pick, Four-time All-Star
2002 Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago Bears 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
2003 LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers #1 Overall NBA Draft Pick. Rookie of the Year. 2006 All Star Game MVP (youngest ever). Lead his team to first NBA Finals in 2007.
2004 Kazuo Matsui, SS, New York Mets Batted .255 for the Mets before being cut.
2005 Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma Sooners Heisman candidate as a freshman while setting NCAA freshman rushing record. Broke NFL record for rushing yards in a game as a rookie with Minnesota.
2006 Reggie Bush, RB, USC Trojans Heisman Winner, #2 NFL Draft Pick, rushed for 1,146 yards and 10 touchdowns and totaled 1,159 receiving yards in first two seasons in the NFL. Won Super Bowl XLIV with the New Orleans Saints.
Vince Young, QB, Texas Longhorns Led Texas to NCAA Championship in 2006 Rose Bowl; NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
Michelle Wie, Professional Golfer Youngest person to qualify for PGA or LPGA event, although went through early struggles as a professional. Reestablished herself with a strong individual performance at the 2009 Solheim Cup and her first LPGA tour win later that season.
U.S. Men's Soccer Team Failed to advance to the round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup after losing to Ghana.
2007 Dwight Howard[2] Nominees: José Reyes (SS, New York Mets), Juan Pablo Montoya (NASCAR driver), Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions)
2008 Joba Chamberlain[3] Nominees: Noel Devine (RB, West Virginia Mountaineers), Brandon Roy (SG, Portland Trail Blazers), Patrick Willis (LB, San Francisco 49ers), Tyson Gay
2009 Matt Ryan[4] Nominees: David Price (LHP, Tampa Bay Rays), Ricky Rubio (PG, DKV Joventut (Spain)), Joey Logano (Driver, NASCAR)

Winners After 2009

2010 Kevin Durant[5]

2011 Buster Posey[6]

2012 Cam Newton[7]

2013 Kyrie Irving[8]