- The pro athletes all appear naked on their own covers of the publication’s special Body Issue
- Olympians Chantae McMillan, Amanda Bingson, and Natalie Coughlin also bare all as they star in the body-baring issue
- The cover stars join Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, WNBA’s Brittney Griner, and French Open champ Stan Wawrinka, who also posed nude
Six pro athletes have stripped down for a series of covers for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, which hits stands this Friday.
MLB player Bryce Harper, NBA player Kevin Love, NFL player Odell Beckham, Jr., Olympian heptathlete Chantae McMillan, USA Track & Field hammer thrower Amanda Bingson, and Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin all appear completely nude on different versions on the magazine, doing flips, flexing muscles – and even holding some balls, of both the ‘foot’ and ‘basket’ variety.
‘You’re growing up and you say: “I want to be on the front of a Wheaties box; I want to be on the front of a Topps card; I want to be on the Body Issue,”’ the 22-year-old said.
I’ve been doing rubber-band exercises to build hand strength since high school
Odell Beckham, Jr.
For the issue’s seventh annual addition, which hits newsstands on Friday, he poses with a baseball – and nothing else – while flaunting the muscles that help him maintain a .346 batting average.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, 26, dribbles a basketball in his birthday suit for his own cover, while New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., 22, runs and jumps in the buff with a football.
While Odell has naturally big hands – the football player said that he could palm a basketball as early as fourth grade – he also noted that keeping those hands strong has taken hard work and dedication.
‘I’ve been doing rubber-band exercises to build hand strength since high school,’ he explained. ‘It’s something that started off in Chinese class my senior year, just wrapping rubber bands around my fingers and stretching them out. Anything I thought could make me better, I was going to do it.’
The natural athlete also admitted that he initially thought he’d make it big playing a different kind of football: ‘My first love was soccer. A lot of my coaches from back in the day would say that I could have been in Europe right now playing.’
In an issue that wonders more at the body’s power to achieve incredible things that its sex appeal, the women who’ve ditched their clothes for the upcoming issue are totally focused on paying homage to their sports.
Natalie Coughlin, who has won twelve Olympic medals, including three golds, crouches in water for her cover, telling the magazine that she’s worked too hard to retire at age 30, as people expected her to do.
‘I’ve taken really good care of my body to allow me to still compete at a very high level,’ the now-32-year-old said. ‘I lift four times a week.
‘I can bench 70-pound dumbbells in each hand. I love that sensation of feeling so strong and powerful.’
She also discussed the body confidence that helped her escape some of the problems that plague other female swimmers, adding: ‘Swimming is one of the sports where a lot of people suffer from body image issues. There were a lot of girls around me growing up that suffered full-blown eating disorders, or just the body dysmorphia that every girl feels — especially every girl in a swimsuit.
‘There were times when I wasn’t happy with my body, but I always knew that I was really fit and that it was what allowed me to be successful in the pool.’
Olympians Chantae McMillan and Amanda Bingson also star on their own covers, Chantae baring her incredible abs while doing a back flip and Amanda demonstrating her hammer throwing prowess au naturel.
Amanda, whose 210lb figure stands out among the other athletes, addressed her shape in her interview, saying: ‘Dense would be the right word for me. Generally when you look at athletes, you see their muscles and all that stuff; I don’t have any of that. My arm is just my arm – it’s not cut, it’s not sculpted.’
You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I’ll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one
‘I think it’s important to show that athletes come in all shapes and sizes,’ she added, noting that despite not having a six-pack, she has a ‘pretty strong core’ that makes it possible to throw weights long distances. To maintain her physique, Amanda, 25, a self-proclaimed ‘protein junkie’, adds protein powder to just about everything she eats, from mashed potatoes to spinach-and-artichoke dip.
Even though she was called ‘fat’ as a child, she now embraces her body – though she’s had to grow a thick skin: ‘You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I’ll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one.’
Even Chantae, who is more toned with just nine to 10 per cent body fat, knows what it’s like to have her size get in the way. The 27-year-old said that her back muscles are so big, they’ve caused a few wardrobe malfunctions.
‘My lats are super huge!’ she said. ‘They are always ripping dresses. It’s definitely happened when I’ve lifted my arms up, and you hear that tear.’
With two parents who were in the military, Chantae explained that she grew up around fitness overachievers – but she doesn’t think of herself as slim.
‘I look in the mirror and I’m like, “Whoa, beast!”‘ she went on. ‘It’s just crazy how much the body changes. Looking in the mirror I get surprised like every other week. It’s like I’m Wonder Woman.’
Chantae and the other cover stars join a list of athletes whose nude photos appear throughout the magazine, including the WNBA’s Brittney Griner, soccer stars Ali Krieger and Jermaine Jones, and French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
Last week, pictures of Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, 21, hit the internet. The three-time medalist for Team USA at the 2012 Games shows off her incredibly muscular form while taking on tough gymanstic poses – all while completely naked.
‘Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them,’ Aly told the magazine. ‘I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am.
‘You can always spot the gymnast,’ Aly, who competed in the 16th season of Dancing with the Stars after she returned from London, added. ‘They are so ripped and so strong. Even if I was just wearing a T-shirt, my arms would just be more muscular than other girls’. If we were playing sports, I would just crush them.’
In their element: When they’re not posing naked for magazine covers, NFL star Odell (left) and NBA player Kevin (right) are at the top of their respective sports
Step up to the plate: Washington Nationals player Bryce (left) and Team USA athlete Amanda (right) each have their own ESPN covers
Speedy: Chantae (left) and Amanda (right) both competed for Team USA at the 2012 Olympics in London
For her picture, the petite Olympian – who won the gold for Floor Exercise and the London 2012 Olympics – lost her ever-present leotard and posed on a balance beam – which is actually a bugbear piece of equipment for Aly.
Although she won the bronze in the individual event at the Games, a mistake on her Beam routine during the All-Around competition cost Aly, then 18, a medal.
Speaking to the magazine, Aly revealed that this fact has somewhat taken away from her other Olympic triumphs thanks to her perfectionist nature.
‘That kind of pisses me off – I always think that it’s never good enough. I almost fell and put my hand down; it was stupid, I never make that mistake on the beam,’ she said.
‘I’ll have a second chance at it, but I think about it all the time. I wish I didn’t have to learn that valuable lesson at the Olympics.’
Aly also took home the Team gold along with teammates – the other members of the team, christened the ‘Fierce Five’ – Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross.
Unfortunately the Fierce Five will not be reuniting in 2016, as Jordyn decided to retire after withdrawing from competition following the 2012 Games.
Even though she gained the Team gold, Jordyn suffered a grave disappointment at the Games when she failed to make the All-Around final after being beaten by two of her teammates, despite going into the competition as World Champion.
Coming back to competition after the Games did not come easy to Aly either, as she explained to the magazine.
‘After 2012, I took a full year off. Gabby and I did. We needed a break,’ she said. ‘It’s just repetitions after repetitions. There’s no offseason.
‘But at the same time, you always have to keep your goals in the back of your mind.’
Click Here To View >> P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE P!CTURE <<
RELATED NEWS ARTICLES: