Athletes Strip Down For the ESPN Body Issue, and We've Never Seen Such Toned Butts
When athletes prepare for their upcoming seasons, they put their bodies through rigorous workouts and intense mental and physical training. Year after year, the ESPN Body Issue showcases the beauty underneath their uniforms and just how insanely toned and committed these athletes are to their respective sports. On Wednesday, photos from the 11th edition of the highly anticipated annual Body Issue were released, featuring 21 unique athletes and 17 different covers. Athletes from all over the globe represent a variety of different sports on their covers, and we've never seen such toned butts.
From Kelley O'Hara, to Chris Paul, and even the Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line, these talented athletes pose naked and share their stories. The 2019 issue of the magazine is a special one, as it's the final print edition of ESPN The Magazine. "We hope readers enjoy this year's Body Issue and learning about the lives of the many incredible athletes who are featured," Alison Overholt, Vice President, Editorial Director and Executive Producer of ESPN, said in a press release.
Read on to see all the incredible athletes and hear their stories from the feature, and prepare to be inspired. The 11th annual ESPN Body Issue is available on newsstands Sept. 6.
Evander Kane is more than just the left wing for the San Jose Sharks — he's an entertainer with a larger-than-life personality. The 28-year-old hockey player hit his career high 30 goals in the 2018-2019 season, but his dreams are not only measured by his goals. As one of the few black professional hockey players, Evander wants to change the sport. "If everybody had the same equal opportunity in the world, whether you're black, Asian, Indian, white, whatever, to play hockey, I think you'd see a lot more diverse league," he said in the interview. "Saying hockey is for everybody is great, but specifically, getting more black kids involved in hockey is going to help grow the game."
You probably know Katelyn Ohashi from her viral UCLA Gymnastics routines, but the 22-year-old is focused on seeing the beauty in her sport, as well as in herself. "I feel really accepting of the things I used to be insecure about. I have gone through eating disorders and body shaming, and here I am today doing this shoot for millions of people to see," the four-time All-American gymnast said in the candid interview.
It's only fitting that on Liz Cambage's cover of the ESPN Body Issue she's holding a bedazzled basketball, because every time the ball touches her hands, she shines. The 27-year-old 6'8" Australian basketball player plays center for the Las Vegas Aces and was the 2018 scoring leader in the WNBA. Not only is she a badass on the court, but off the court, she's open about her mental health struggles and how learning to love herself is a work in progress.
"It's just the old narrative that we should act ladylike and shut up and be happy with what we want," the two-time Australian Olympian said in the interview. "It's like, 'I want more.' And I'm going to say what I want, how I feel, stand up for myself. No one's been able to stop me my whole life, and I'm not going to stop any time soon."
Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line
The 2018 Super Bowl champions are baring it all! Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai of the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line are the toughest men on the field, and they aren't afraid to admit it. "Being an offensive lineman, obviously you're a little bit different than most athletes, so our body types are going to be drastically different. I think that's one of the cool things about football — there's a place for every kid to play, regardless of size, shape or speed," Jason said in the interview.
There's also a reputation that comes with being an offensive lineman, but Lane believes their Body Issue photos could help shatter that. "There's a whole stigma behind the O-line body, but as you can see, some of these guys are pretty well-built, strong guys. I just wanted to put that out there and see how it settles," he said.
She was the oldest player to appear in a WNBA game at 50 years old, and Nancy Lieberman knows how applause-worthy that is. Now, at age 61, she continues to be an inspiration to women. "I want to see moms, housewives, athletes go, 'Oh my gosh, I can't believe she looks like that. She's 60. I can do that too.' It's important to take care of yourself," the Basketball Hall of Famer said in the interview.
He's the number one golf player in the world, but 29-year-old Brooks Koepka doesn't care about proving anything to anyone except himself. With two US Open wins and two PGA Championships under his belt, he's nowhere close to finished. "When somebody tells me I can't do something, I'm very eager to go out and go do it. Even if it's me telling myself, 'You can't win this golf tournament.' I want to prove to myself I can," he said in the interview.
If you can't tell by Katrin Davidsdottir's cover photo, she's a champion. The 26-year-old CrossFit athlete is a five-time Top 5 finisher at the CrossFit Games and a two-time champion, as she won in 2015 and 2016. She's recognized as the best Icelandic CrossFitter in the world, and she's worked incredibly hard to get there. "I'm so proud of every single muscle of my body. I had to work for it. I had to earn that. They don't just show up," she said in the candid interview.
At the rate he's going, 27-year-old Christian Yelich is "now more likely than not" to make the Hall of Fame. The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder won the MVP award last season, and it took slowing down his game for him to get there. "Over your career, you learn a lot about what it's like to play professional baseball. You start to understand and listen to your body more. You learn to manage a lot," he said in the interview. "In baseball, whenever something does happen, you're just riding out with that for the rest of the year. It's just one of those sports where it just keeps coming at you every single day."
At 33 years old, Alex Honnold holds records that no other rock climber shares. He's the only climber to free solo climb Yosemite's El Capitan, and he holds the speed record for The Nose of El Capitan — an incredibly impressive feat. "The consequences (in climbing) are so much higher. If you miss a free throw, like, whatever, you might lose a game. But if you make some mistakes climbing, you could die," he said honestly in the interview.
Kelley O'Hara is a two-time World Cup Champion, but the 31-year-old defender wants fans to know that soccer is more than just shiny trophies for the US Women's National Team. "From the outside, playing in the World Cup looks awesome. Nobody realizes how hard it really is. Like, it's not fun. The nerves and the weight of expectation are not enjoyable. But if something's easy, it's not worth doing," the Olympic champion and Utah Royals FC player said in the interview.
When she was just 18 months old, Scout Bassett lost her leg after a chemical fire in China. Now, at 30 years old, she's accomplished more than she could have ever imagined. She's a sprinter and long jumper, and she won two bronze medals at the 2017 Para Athletics World Championship.
"Nothing in the world is going to bring me back my leg, so I just had to accept that. I don't need to hide it or to be embarrassed about it," the 2016 Paralympian said in the interview.
She has the most wins for a female fighter in UFC history, and 31-year-old Amanda Nunes knows how impressive that is. "Everything that I wanted to do, I did it. Now I enjoy this moment because I work hard for these moments. Now I really can look in the mirror and say, 'We did it. I did it,'" the bantamweight and featherweight champion said in the interview.
He was the number one pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and 23-year-old Myles Garrett is showing no signs of slowing down. As the defensive end for the Cleveland Browns, Myles takes no shortcuts while training. "I want to look like a Grecian God. I want to be at my best physical appearance, just to know that I'm kind of using all the God-given abilities," he said in the interview.
After his 14th season in the NBA, Chris Paul was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He's about to embark on a new journey in a new city, and he's taking a new vegan diet with him. The 34-year-old point guard is only 6'0" and while that might sound tall for an average person, Chris knows that it makes his game unique. When asked if he could steal any player's body for a day, he said it would be Boban Marjanovic's. "I don't necessarily need the body — I just want the height, you know what I mean? Let me get Boban's height. He's over 7? Let me get that height. It's over for everybody. We ain't even going to play the games," he said in the interview.
Lakey Peterson has always had a "connection" with the ocean, so it should come as no surprise that she's broken female surfing records. The 24-year-old was the first woman to successfully do an aerial maneuver in a competition, and as expected, the water is where she feels the most at peace. "Riding a wave is this emotionless, beautiful thing that you just feel so present. You stand up, and anything that you're worried about or stressed about, it just goes away," she said in the interview.
When James Hinchcliffe is behind the wheel, nothing else matters. The IndyCar driver was 2011's Rookie of the Year, and in 2015 he was in a serious accident during an Indy-500 practice run. He hit a wall at 220 miles per hour, and for the Body Issue photos, he wanted to make sure we saw his scars. "On a personal level, the accident changed me in a huge way for the better. But professionally, I'm willing to take the same risks, accept the same consequences of what I do because I just love it," he said in the interview.
Michael Thomas is a 26-year-old wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, and he knows that it's not only what he does on the field that will help him accomplish his goals. "My plan was always to be the first $100 million receiver. All my steps, all my moves, the way I acted, the way I handle my business, the way I treat people — it was all intentional," the two-time Pro Bowler said in the interview.