Sports: a training ground for a career in politics?

Kevin Johnson, whose greatest fame came by dazzling fans in basketball arenas, has entered the political variety as a mayoral candidate in Sacramento, Calif., the state capital and his hometown. As a three-time NBA all-star, Johnson had a lengthy career with the Phoenix Suns. Since retiring in 2000, he has focused his energies on St. Hope, a nonprofit community development program he founded as an after-school program at Sacramento High School. To win the Democratic primary June 3, Johnson must defeat three-term incumbent Mayor Heather Fargo. While that may be a tall order, "KJ" can draw inspiration from the lofty political positions achieved by other sports figures. Selected successful athletes who've gone into politics, the sport in which each excelled, the state he represented or still represents, and the highest office each has held in Washington:

Gerald Ford (football/Mich.) President
Bill Bradley (basketball/N.J.) Sen.
Jim Bunning (baseball/Ky.) Sen.
J.C. Watts (football/Okla.) Rep.
Jack Kemp (football/N.Y.) Rep.
Steve Largent (football/Okla.) Rep.
Tom Osborne (football/Neb.) Rep.
Bob Mathias (track and field/Calif.) Rep.
Jim Ryun (track and field/Kan.) Rep.
Heath Shuler (football/N.C.) Rep.
Tom McMillen (basketball/Md.) Rep.

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