Flint’s 10 Best Athletes
I feel like it's important to recognize Flint's top 10 athletes because Flint always gets a bad rap. Let's face it, people portray our city as violent, poor and generally not a nice place to visit. This negative perception of Flint causes people to miss out on our best export; the people of Flint. Over the next couple of weeks I'll highlight some groups of people who represent Flint well. I'll start with Flint's top 10 athletes for one reason, its easy! We have a lot of athletic stars. Everything from Collegiate champions, and Olympic medalists to Pro all-stars and Hall of Famers.
Chris Byrd starts off the list of Flint's top 10 athletes. Chris was born to box, and started honing his craft at the age of 5 at his dads boxing academy. After graduating from Northwestern High School he went on to win three U.S. Amateur Championships and a Silver Medal at the 1992 Summer Olympic games in Barcelona. Chris Byrd held both the IBO and IBF Heavyweight Championship belts before retiring in 2008.
Andre Rison has definitely had his share of ups and downs throughout his career and personal life. 'Bad Moon Rison' is also a product of Northwester High School where he currently coaches. During his NFL career Andre Rison was selected to the Pro-bowl five times. He also is one of the only players who has won an NFL Championship as well as the CFL's Grey Cup. Despite some of his off the field problems, Andre Rison is a lock as one of Flint's 10 best athletes.
Mateen Cleaves is probably the least decorated person on the Flint's 10 best athletes list, but he is probably the most loved. Don't get me wrong Mateen deserves his spot on the list. The 2000 National Champion, and Most Oustanding Player of the Final Four has more than earned his spot. Mateen is also the only three-time All American from MSU (that includes Magic Johnson). He is also one of eight players to ever have their number retired at MSU. While Mateen did not enjoy the same success in the NBA, he has stayed in the game as an analyst for Fox Sports Detroit. Cleaves is also venturing into the music business as the owner of All Varsity Entertainment featuring Jon Connor.
Deanna Nolan is the only woman on the list of Flint's 10 best athletes, but don't worry, she can handle her own. The Flint Northern alumni is the only person on the list who can claim two Michigan High School State Championships, along with being crowned Miss Basketball. She is alone in saying that she has three WNBA Championships, and a Finals MVP trophy. 'Tweety' was the face, heart and soul of the Detroit Shock during its stay in Michigan. Deanna is also the only person on the list who sports a Club 93.7 End Of Summer Car Show Trophy for Best In Show (Female).
Mark Ingram Jr. is sixth on Flint's 10 best athletes, but is first on the LV look-alike contest (there probably won't be a list for that one). Mark picked up all-state honors in track and football while at Southwestern Academy. In college he only won a national championship and picked up the Heisman Trophy in 2009. Mark was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and on August 12, scored his first NFL touchdown on a 14-yard run in a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Tim Thomas aka 'The Tank' has probably had the longest road to stardom on the list of Flint's 10 best athletes. The Davison graduate bounced from league to league, including two stints in Finland. He finally found a home between the posts in Boston, and has shined ever since. Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy for Most Valuable Player in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. He is only the second American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in NHL history. Thomas recently returned to Davison this summer with the Stanly Cup in tow.
Could Morris Peterson be a little to high on the list of Flint's 10 best athletes? Maybe. After all, he only has one NCAA basketball championship, and a lengthy NBA career under his belt. Like Cleaves, Mo Pete's number is hanging in the rafters of the Breslin Center. What Mo Pete is lacking in awards, he has made up for in consistency and community. He has spearheaded the 'MoPete Basketball Camp' and turkey giveaway over the last few years in Flint. Now that Peterson is near the end of his career his focus has shifted toward his home and how he can improve it. This is more important, in my opinion than any trophy that is named on this list.
Jim Abbott is probably the most inspirational story on the list of Flint's 10 best athletes. Born without a right hand Abbott learned to switch his glove to his pitching hand in mid-pitch. He fielded his position as well as anyone, and was an excellent Quarter Back at the University of Michigan. His career highlights include Olympic Medals, and a no-hitter in 1993 as a member of the Yankees. It is no surprise that Abbott is now a motivational speaker, helping people to overcome adversity in their own lives.
Paul Krause is the one man on the list of Flint's 10 best athletes that most of you have probably never heard of. To be honest with you, before I decided to do the list I had never heard of him either. I was shocked to find out that this Bendle graduate had spent 16 seasons in the NFL. I was in disbelief when I found out that he is still holds the record for most interceptions with 81! Krause is an absolute beast, with 8 Pro Bowls, 8 All Pro selections and a member of the Football Hall Of Fame. In High School he earned All-State honors in Football, Basketball, Track and Baseball! I'm not sure how Bendle High doesn't have a bronze statue of this man on the 50 yard line of their field. That's almost as big of a crime as me leaving him out of the number one spot.
Glenn Rice held the top spot of Flint's 10 best athletes in my head when I started to put the list together. Then I found out who Paul Krause was, and I really debated bumping him out. Finally we all found out about the best "3" that Glenn hit, and he was locked back into the number one spot again. Glenn was the picture of consistency in the NBA, and has more than enough awards to warrant being number one. NCAA Basketball Champion, as well as the tournaments Most Outstanding Player. He also has an NBA Championship Ring along with an NBA All-Star MVP award.