JET 40 Under 40: Sports

Who says you have to be a certain age to make a difference? The movers and shakers on our second annual 40 Under 40 list are influencing the world in powerful ways. Whether it’s through entrepreneurship, activism, entertainment or athletics, these young Black professionals are killing the game.

Tim Howard, 35, U.S. Men’s National Team goalie

Howard’s 16-save performance in a losing effort against Belgium in the World Cup was so impressive that it launched a thousand memes, #TimHowardCouldSave. Howard even got in on the action by stepping up his efforts to save animals.

Michael Sam, 24, Dallas Cowboys defensive end

The SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year proved he was equally fearless off the field, revealing that he is gay prior to the NFL Draft. He capped off a whirlwind off-season by delivering a moving speech at the ESPYs.

Isaiah Austin, 20, honorary NBA draftee

After being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that could lead to heart complications, Austin called it quits on the hardwood. The once-promising big man handled the news with such grace and dignity that he’s been offered a job by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Taylor Townsend, 18, tennis player

Despite dealing with weight issues, Townsend dominated the junior ranks. Now she has her sights set on a major and a top-100 WTA ranking. Encouraged by a deep run at the French Open earlier this year, she’s set to tackle her third U.S. Open after making the tournament as one of eight wildcards.

Tina Charles, 25, New York Liberty center

The altruistic Charles is in the running for league MVP, after posting nearly 18 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. Even if she does take home the hardware, she will likely be remembered for donating half of her salary to Hopey’s Heart Foundation, an organization she founded in 2013.

Jackie Robinson West, various ages, Little League World Series U.S. Champions

The little leaguers from Chicago’s South Side captured the country’s attention. Despite a loss to South Korea in the World Series championship game, they became the first all-Black team to win the U.S. title.

Dystany Spurlock, 22, motorcycle drag racer

Dystany is the fastest woman on two wheels. The BMW ambassador regularly exceeds 160 mph during her drag races, but she’ll have to dial it back a bit as she transitions to road racing.

Shabazz Napier, 23, Miami Heat point guard

Napier engineered one of the most memorable March Madness runs in the history of the Big Dance. The Connecticut Huskies were the lowest-seeded team to win the NCAA in nearly 30 years thanks to Napier’s leadership and his trademark scissor-kick three-pointers.

Mo’Ne Davis, 13, Little League World Series pitcher

Miss Davis doesn’t just play with the big boys, she dominates them. Davis struck out eight while tossing a complete game shutout in her team’s Little League World Series opener. She became the first girl to win a game in the LLWS.

Misty Copeland, 32, ballerina

In 2007, Misty became just the third African-American female soloist to join the exclusive American Ballet Theatre. Her memoir, Life in Motion, may be a feature film before long after New Line Cinema optioned her life story.

Check back tomorrow to view our 40 Under 40 entrepreneurs!