Inspirational Quotes from Black Sports Icons

February 20, 2021


As much as we all love to play various sports as kids, few of us are good enough to win a college scholarship, let alone become a professional in our sport. Even fewer go on to become true sports legends – athletes who inspire us, people we want to emulate.

We could all use a little inspiration right now, whether we’re still trying to get back into play with our favorite team sport or simply working to make 2021 a better year than, well, you know, the last one.

Since it’s Black History Month, who better to inspire us than some of our favorite Black sports icons? There’s a lot of wisdom and insight in the roundup of quotes below. You’ll want to share them with friends, family, teammates and schoolmates. Together, you can pick one and use it to decorate a special collection of spirit wear to celebrate Black History Month and beyond.


In no particular order (because they’re all important and well worth contemplating):


Jesse Owens

"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, discipline, and effort."


“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself—the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us—that’s where it’s at.”



Jackie Robinson

"Life is not a spectator sport. If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you're wasting your life."



Carl Lewis

“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.”



Wilma Rudolph

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”



Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"I think the good and the great are only separated by the willingness to sacrifice."



Serena Williams

"It doesn't matter what your background is and where you come from, if you have dreams and goals, that's all that matters."


“I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger.”



Michael Jordan

“I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”


"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."


Even More Quotes from Black Sports Icons to Inspire You:

Muhammad Ali

"I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion."


“I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”


Satchel Paige

"Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way."


Stephen Curry

"Be the hardest working person you can be. That's how you separate yourself from the competition."


LeBron James

"You have to be able to accept failure to get better."


Doug Williams

"Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss."


Arthur Ashe

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”


And one more from Muhammed Ali

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”


You feel uplifted already, don’t you?

Ready to tackle whatever comes your way with positive attitude and plenty of spirit. This is going to be a great year!

And, P.S. If you’re not sure who all of these sports greats are, then it’s time for a Black history lesson – look ’em up!


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