Eight Star Athletes Who Became Politicians

Today’s CBS Chicago column …

(CBS) The American presidency is no stranger to American sports.

Gerald Ford played center and linebacker for the University of Michigan. George H.W. Bush was a first baseman at Yale. And Richard Nixon… well, he liked to bowl.

As gifted as those men might have been at their respective sports (or, you know, games), each of them became better known for their talents in politics as they rose to the highest office in the land.

But here on Election Day, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some former-athletes-turned-politicians who probably are still best known for their sporting exploits, no matter how successful they’ve been at scoring votes.

Interestingly, all eight of the men on this list were accustomed to having the ball in their hands during their athletic careers, which could be why they went into politics.

After all, playmakers need to keep making plays.

Kevin Johnson – Mayor of Sacramento (2008-present)

A three-time NBA All-Star and one of the premier point guards of the 1990s, the 6-foot-1 KJ still holds the Phoenix Suns records for assists, free throws and free throws attempted.

In 2008, Johnson became the mayor of a city that’s home to one of the Suns’ divisional rivals when he was elected as the first African-American to lead the Sacramento. The mayoral job is non-partisan, but the 46-year-old KJ is considered a Democrat. His initiatives have included a push to keep the Kings in town – and, I suppose, to keep the Suns visiting.

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