It's been a banner year for athletes who hail from Dallas. Given their contributions, it seems like a good time for an updated list of the greatest Dallas athletes of all time.
A note about how this list was compiled: While athletes from Dallas' immediate suburbs were fair game for the list, Fort Worth is a bit to far afield for its athletes to make a Dallas-focused list. That means no Ben Hogan and no Rogers Hornsby.
10. Matthew Stafford
While Matthew Stafford lacks the accomplishments of the other athletes on this list, the former Highland Park High School quarterback deserves his spot based on his huge talent. Especially impressive is what he's done with a series of weak supporting casts in Detroit. Stafford, winner of the 2005 UIL 4A Division I State Championship with the Scots, has one of the strongest throwing arms in football history.
The season before the Lions took Stafford as the first overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, they went 0-16. In 2011, Stafford dragged the Lions to their first playoff spot since 1999. During the next five seasons, the Lions made the playoffs two more times, and Stafford has them at 5-4 after nine games this season. While he may not win a championship with the Lions, Stafford has built a cult following with his frequent comebacks, gambling style and toughness.
9. Chris Bosh
In 13 NBA seasons, Lincoln High School graduate Chris Bosh put together a hall-of-fame resume although he frequently was overshadowed by his more famous teammates, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. After leading Lincoln to a 40-0 record and an unofficial national championship in 2002 and a one-year stopover at Georgia Tech, Bosh made 11 NBA All-Star teams with the Raptors and the Heat and two championships in Miami.
8. Bobby Layne
Like Stafford, Bobby Layne starred at quarterback for Highland Park before eventually starring for the Lions in the NFL. Unlike Stafford, Layne won two championships in Detroit, in 1952 and 1953, leading the Lions to their longest era of sustained success. Layne is rumored to have placed a 50-year curse on the Lions when the team traded him to the Steelers in 1958. When the Lions drafted Stafford in 2009, many took it as a sign that the curse was lifted. While the Lions have perked up in subsequent seasons, they've gone 64 years since their last championship.
7. Tim Brown
Despite playing for a trio of abysmal Woodrow Wilson High School teams, Tim Brown was one of the most recruited Dallas prep players in history when he graduated in 1984. Brown went to Notre Dame, winning the Heisman Trophy thanks to an incredible all-purpose season in 1987. While his college career alone would be enough to get him in contention for this list, Brown went on to have an NFL Hall of Fame career as a wide receiver and kick returner for the Raiders. When he retired in 2005, his 100 receiving touchdowns were the third most in NFL history.
6. Jordan Spieth
When he finally retires 20 or 30 years from now, Jordan Spieth will be higher on this list. For now, though, the 24-year-old Dallas Jesuit graduate's three major championships and 14 professional victories are enough to ensure his place among Dallas' greats. Spieth is going to be around a long time, and Dallas is better off for it.
5. Lee Trevino
Lee Trevino earned his spot on the list with his six major championships but gets his spot in the top five thanks to his incredible longevity. After winning 29 events on the PGA Tour, Trevino moved to the PGA Senior Tour and won another 29 times.
The Merry Mex, as he was nicknamed, has a great backstory, too. After dropping out of school at 14, Trevino honed his game while caddying at the Dallas Athletic Club. After returning from serving in the Marines in 1960, Trevino became a club pro in El Paso, plying his trade and building his game for almost a decade before breaking out with a fifth-place finish at the 1967 U.S. Open. Trevino won the U.S. Open the next year and never looked back, serving as Jack Nicklaus' chief competition in the '70s.
4. Ernie Banks
Ernie Banks' resume speaks for itself. Nineteen seasons with the Cubs, 11 All-Star appearances, two MVP awards, 512 home runs and 2,583 hits. In his prime, Banks, who graduated from Dallas Booker T. Washington in 1950, was one of the five best hitting shortstops of all time, and he deserved better than playing for some truly awful teams in Chicago.
3. Michael Johnson
In 1996, Dallas' Michael Johnson was the greatest athlete in the world. In June at the U.S. Olympic trials, Johnson ran the 200 meters in 19.66 seconds, breaking Pietro Mennea's 17-year-old world record. At the Olympics later that summer, Johnson smashed his world record, running a 19.32 that is still, 21 years later, the third-fastest time ever. At both events, Johnson also won the 400 meters, becoming the first sprinter in modern history to complete the 200-400 double.
2. Doak Walker
A teammate of Layne's at Highland Park High School, Doak Walker won the Heisman Trophy at SMU in 1948, inspiring a following so fervent that the Cotton Bowl had to be expanded, becoming the House That Doak Built. After joining up with Layne in Detroit in 1950, Walker led the Lions to two championships as the team's halfback and kicker, was a five-time first team All-Pro and had his number, 37, retired. Walker retired at the height of his powers in 1955, just 28 years old.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
1. Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw, Stafford's battery-mate on Highland Park's baseball teams of the mid-'00s, is already one of the three greatest left-handed starting pitchers in the history of baseball. As daunting a proclamation as that is, the numbers back it up. Since his rookie season in 2008, Kershaw has turned in an ERA under 3 in each of the nine years he's pitched. Three times, he's finished seasons with an ERA under 2, something that's unheard of in the expansion era. His strikeout rates are incredible, and his walk rates are low. He's racked up three Cy Young Awards and an MVP, and he's just 29 years old.
While Kershaw has yet to win a World Series, his gritty performance in the 2017 postseason checked off the final box on his Hall of Fame resume. Kershaw is a once-in-a-generation pitcher.