To their fans, many athletes are known as heroes for their efforts on the field. However, it’s what some of them have done away from their sport that truly makes them a hero. Some brave and patriotic athletes have voluntarily left their professional careers to serve and defend their country, sometimes while they were in the prime of their career.
While some athletes on our list were obligated to serve after attending military academies, others chose to leave their sport. Some even sacrificed their lives for their country. While they all have different stories and backgrounds, these courageous individuals deserve our respect
Ted Williams Served Then Returned A Champion
Ted Williams entered active duty with the Navy in 1943, a year after winning the AL Triple Crown. Williams would serve three years and was certified as a Naval Aviator in 1944. Upon returning to baseball in 1946, the two-time AL MVP won his first MVP title and played in his only World Series.
The iconic Red Sox was called back to active military duty in 1952 to serve as a Marine combat aviator in the Korean War. Williams retired from baseball in 1960, becoming a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush presented the outfielder with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award by the United States Government.