Jim Thorpe, America’s First Multi Sport Athlete, Olympian, NFL Star, Major League Baseball

Jim Thorpe Career Highlights

Long before the likes of Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, and Michael Jordan there was an original “super athlete” named Jim Thorpe. Fans didn’t dwell on what Jim Thorpe could do, instead they questioned if there was anything this sports icon couldn’t do! He would watch a sport that he had never attempted before, study their techniques, then perfect them on a world class level.

In Thorpe’s prime he could run faster and jump higher than all of his competitors. He was an Olympic gold medalist in track and field. He won gold medals in the decathlon and the pentathlon. He played professional football and major league baseball. Not only that, Jim was a tremendous basketball player and one of the best lacrosse players in history. When you look at the grand scope of Thorpe’s accomplishments there has never been another athlete like him.

Timeline Biography:

  • Born: May 28, 1888
  • Age 10: Twin brother Charlie dies of pneumonia
  • Age 12: Mother died of a blood disorder. Father dies of the same illness three years later
  • Age 15: Jim studied agriculture and tailoring at Carlisle Indian School (equivalent of high school and college combined). Letters in 11 sports
  • Age 19: Promoted to varsity by coach Pop Warner
  • Leads Carlisle to 11-1 record and earns All American honors. He kicked a 50 yard field goald to bieat #1 ranked Harvard
  • Age 24: Wins Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and pentathlon
  • 1915 – Plays professional football for the Canton Bulldogs
  • 1920 – Named president of the NFL
  • 1928 – Retires as a New York Giant

Interesting Facts About Jim That you May Not Know

  • Over the span of 7 years Jim Thorpe lost his entire family to disease and was completely alone by the age of 15. After the death of his entire family Jim learned to channel his physical and mental energy to block out the pain. This inner strength is what enabled him to survive the excruciating punishment of professional sports.
  • In Thorpe’s 1912 meeting with Army, defensive specialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was put in the game to try and slow down Thorpe. The future U.S. president blew out his knee while trying to tackle Thorpe.
  • Jim had a special grace about him. In 1912 he won the collegiate ballroom dancing championship.
  • Jim Thorpe was considered a world class athlete in baseball, basketball, discus, football, hammer throw, handball, high jump, hurdles, ice hockey, lacrosse, long jump, mile run, pole vault, rowing, shot put, speed skating, sprinting, and tennis.