That’s how it’s done: Athletes who went out on top
Out with a cherry on top
Professional athletes don't live in a fairy-tale world. Injuries and age can sometimes suddenly cut a prolific career short. However, there are some special stars who went out on top of the world with a special achievement. Let's take a look back at some of those fairy-tale endings.
Just over a month after reaching the pinnacle of her career -- winning Wimbledon -- Marion Bartoli announced her retirement from the sport in 2013. The 28-year-old Frenchwoman said the physical toll had become too much to bear, calling it quits after losing a second-round match at a US Open tune-up.
Bettis was a major contributor on the Steelers' squad that won Super Bowl XL. Bettis was known for taking a pounding and dishing out hits during his career and after he won his ring, he decided to hang 'em up.
Ned won the 1965 NASCAR title, the second time he won a championship during a six-year span of finishing in the top five in the standings, then announced his retirement in 1966 at the age of 34.
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Before there was Tim Duncan winning titles in San Antonio, it was The Admiral patrolling the middle for the Spurs. The perennial superstar closed out his stellar NBA career in 2003 after winning his second world championship. What an exit.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
The Yankee Clipper is one of the greatest players in the history of baseball with his legendary 56-game hitting streak -- a mark that might never be eclipsed. He and the Yankees were also fairly prolific at winning world championships, and DiMaggio called it quits in 1951 after winning his ninth title.
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Rocky Marciano (right) was 32 years old when he hung up his gloves for good. Oh yeah, he was also 49-0 and held the heavyweight championship for nearly four years before he walked away.
John Elway exemplifies an athlete who went out on top. Not only did his Broncos win the Super Bowl in Elway's final year but he was also named MVP in his final game ... Super Bowl XXXIII.
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Russell made world championships his business during his illustrious career with the Boston Celtics. He hung up his sneakers for good in 1969 when he wrapped up his 11th title with a Game 7 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
NBAE/Getty ImagesDick Raphael
Remember when heavyweight boxing was among the most popular spectacles in the country? Lewis may have been the last of an entertaining era and he had the honor of retiring in 2003 as the undisputed champion of the world.
Getty ImagesJeff Gross
He announced beforehand that Super Bowl XLVII would be his last game. And man, did Ray Lewis finish his career on a high note, winning his second title to cap an amazing career in Baltimore.
Getty ImagesRob Tringali
The New York Giants shocked the world when they took down the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Strahan, a longtime defensive standout in the Big Apple, decided to put a bow on his Hall of Fame career after the big win.
The Yankees legend didn't close out his career with a championship, but he still gave New York quite a sendoff in his final home game. Jeter got a walkoff hit to beat the Orioles 6-5 for one final thrill in the clutch. Epic.
Getty ImagesAl Bello
Let's just pretend that his stint with the Washington Wizards never happened, OK? Don't you want your final memory of Jordan as a player to be him dribbling past Bryon Russell and nailing that jumper to clinch his sixth championship ring and second three-peat? Yes, so do we.