Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Alex Morgan named Time 100 titans; Naomi Osaka earns 'pioneer'

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Naomi Osaka and <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/3704/" data-ylk="slk:LeBron James">LeBron James</a> were named to the annual Time 100 list. (Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka and LeBron James were named to the annual Time 100 list. (Getty Images)

The 16th annual Time 100 Most Influential People list came out Wednesday morning with notable athletes earning nods for their work in sport and out of it.

LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Alex Morgan lead their sports as titans, along with Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Salah. Naomi Osaka earned recognition as a pioneer and track star Caster Semenya was honored as an icon.

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Tim Tebow and JuJu Smith-Schuster also made it to the list, though they each penned thoughts on their most influential people.

Woods, James, Morgan named titans in Time 100

Woods, 43, won his fifth Masters this year, and the comments relayed by Justin Timberlake in the piece make it all the more special.

Timberlake wrote the two talked about fatherhood last year and Woods said he wanted his children, ages 11 and 10, to see him win a major. The win at Augusta was his 15th career major and first in 11 years.

“While pundits doubted he’d ever win again, Tiger’s commitment never wavered,” Timberlake wrote. “The thing we don’t always appreciate is the patience.”

James missed the NBA playoffs in his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers, but recently received the good news of improved test scores from his new school. And all that time off means more work on “Space Jam 2.”

“Early heroes will mold a person’s future,” Warren Buffett wrote. “LeBron has justified the adulation of millions and millions of young people, thanks to his ability to live up to the enormous expectations on the basketball court, his businesses success in Hollywood and media, and his new I Promise School for disadvantaged kids in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. That adulation will make a positive different in their lives.”

Buffett noted we’re “just seeing the start of LeBron.”

Alex Morgan, 29, scored her 100th international goal this month in a tune up for the U.S. National Women’s Team. The U.S. returns to the World Cup this summer as reigning champions and is currently fighting for more equitable pay and support from U.S. Soccer, its governing body.

“Her commitment to set such as positive example for [the next generation of young girls] is unmatched, and I am incredibly grateful that the future of our game is in such good hands,” Olympic gold medalist Mia Hamm wrote.

Also named a titan is Liverpool star Mohamed Salah, who received his introduction from HBO star John Oliver. The 26-year-old Egyptian soccer player led his country to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years and spoke to Time about the importance of women’s equality in Muslim communities and the Middle East.

“I think we need to change the way we treat women in our culture,” Salah said. “It’s not optional.”

Osaka named a pioneer; Semenya an icon

Naomi Osaka, 21, shocked Serena Williams at the U.S. Open in September and “conquered the world again,” Chris Evert wrote, with another Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open final. She’s currently the No. 1 ranked player in the world.

“No one represents our more globalized, multicultural future better than this honest, polite, self-deprecating tennis life force, a potential champion for years to come,” wrote Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam winner.

Caster Semenya is a two-time 800-meter champion from South Africa who has testosterone levels higher than the average woman. It has stirred debate in the sport  with many wanting to base eligibility on testosterone levels, thereby barring her from competing as a woman.

Her case was heard in February in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. No verdict has been made in the case.

“Ultimately, this incredibly difficult issue is a political one for sport to resolve. but however it is addressed, Semenya will have already made a singular historical contribution to our understanding of biological sex,” wrote Edwin Moses, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in track and field who helped develop the sport’s drug-testing program.

Tim Tebow, JuJu get involved in Time 100

Dwayne Johnson earned a nod as an artist on Time 100. The former wrestler and current Hollywood star “always makes sure people feel their best when he is around,” writes “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot. The two starred together in “Fast and Furious” and the upcoming “Red Notice.”

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster did not make the list, but did pen the piece on “pioneer” Ninja. Ninja, born Tyler Blevins, is an e-sports legend playing Fortnite. Smith-Schuster, who played a game with Ninja last month, writes the player was “huge in building up the credibility of e-sports.”

Tim Tebow penned the piece on Joanna and Chip Gaines, stars of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” The former NFL quarterback and current New York Mets minor leaguer praised their faith and passion for making a difference in people’s lives.

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