Playing on the Raiders was more than just a win for Josh Jacobs’ career. It was a win in his life – one that completely transformed the past into a better present than he ever imagined for himself.
Before Jacobs became running back for the Raiders, he had quite a different childhood. As a child, Jacobs and his four siblings were homeless. They spent most of their time living out of a car with their dad, Marty, on the north side of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
But this Tuesday, Jacobs decided to put all of this in both his and his father’s past. The 2019 draft’s No. 24 pick took to social media to say he had purchased a house for his father.
Marty will now be living a life in Alameda, very different from that of his past.
The Raiders team was also so touched by their player’s loving act that they tweeted out a video of Marty’s reaction.
Jacobs is currently the leading candidate for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, having rushed for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns, and averaging 4.8 yards per carry – and he caught 20 passes for 166 yards and eight first downs. This is all despite having missed 3 of the Raiders’ final 4 games due to a fracture in his right shoulder. His 88.5 rushing yards per game ranks 3rd in the NFL, behind the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry (102.7) and the Cleveland Browns’ Nick Chubb (93.4).
Jacobs wasn’t quick to miss those games, though – he had played right on through the pain after sustaining the injury back in Week 7.
He was selected with a pick acquired in the Khalil Mack trade of 2018.
All of this makes his journey from homelessness to stardom on the field, not to mention a first-round pick from the Raiders, all the more inspiring. ESPN SportsCenter even featured a documentary-style piece on his life this past spring.
“Sleeping in the car, I always look back on it,” Jacobs said at the time. “It’s always going to be something that molded me into who I am. It might have been rough, but, I mean, it’s my life.”
Softball is a sport that, like many others, takes a good mix of dedication, hard work, and talent to stand out from other players. Yet, there are definitely some players who have come along and pushed their own limits and carved their way into softball history. These are some of the best softball players of all time.
Dot Richardson started her career in softball at a young age. In all, she would start to draw attention to herself with her talent when she was only 13 years old.
Her following career would follow in the next 25 years, earning Richardson several accolades. For one, she was the youngest player to be a part of the Women’s Major Fastpitch National Championship. She’d also go onto earn two gold medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics as well as places on collegiate and professional teams.
Danielle Lawrie is another softball player whose career was broken into two parts. She competed from 2006 to 2007 and from 2009 to 201, making her name in the NCAA along the way.
As a pitcher, she played for Washington. Throughout her career, she struck out a grand total of 1,860 batters. 521 of these batters were in 2009, the same year as Washington’s first national title. In 2009 and 2010, she won both USA Softball Player of the Year and two Honda awards.
Rachel Garcia is a name to watch out for in softball as her career is still going. From 2017 to 2019 and starting up again in 2021 she played and plays for the UCLA softball team.
Her career is still going strong but she’s already proved herself as one of the greats. In 2019, she won the Honda Broderick Cup. Even further than that, she’s versatile enough that she’s renowned not only as a pitcher but in the batters’ box too.
As a batter, Bailey Hemphill could make any softball pitcher shake in her boots. After all, she has a .524 on-base percentage and 26 home runs under her belt.
Those home runs are particularly impressive for a few reasons. For instance, Hemphill now holds the single-season record for home runs in Alabama. This beats out another softball great, Kelly Kretschman, and matches the SEC single-season record. She’s gone 13-for-28 in Alabama’s final 10 games including 14 RBIs and four home runs.
Miranda Elish is known for her competitive performance with Miranda Elish. In 2019, she finished with a 1.81 ERA, .388 OBP, .540 SLG, and 0.91 WHIP.
Unfortunately, her 2019 season ended on a sour note when she was hit in the face with a ball after a throw during an Alabama NCAA tournament. Still, she stood out with a two-way season where she started in Oregon before transferring. Before that, she had an even more successful season with the Ducks.
Nancy Evans’ competitive career originally ran from 1994 to 1995 but she picked back up from 1997 to 1998. She was another softball player with her start in Arizona as a pitcher.
As a collegiate athlete, Evans made waves. She won three total national championships and even won the Honda Award in 1998. Not to mention, her pitching career alone made softball history at 124-8. She would even finish out her career with a .98 ERA.
Starting out her career at UCLA, Lisa Fernandez would earn her spot among some of the best players in softball history. She’s also another player that has an Olympic record behind her.
In all, she’s been a part of three different Olympic teams. It was her run in the 2000 Olympics that she earned a gold medal. She stunned with an ERA of .47 while she competed on this Olympic team. Since then, she’s returned to UCLA as an assistant coach, working to pass softball onto the next generation.
The Pac-12 last season was not lacking for talented batters. As a matter of fact, three of those players are joining the ranks of Team USA.
Still, even with all of that competition, Kindra Hackbarth would capture the title of most total bases in Pac-12 games in only her second season. She’d even tie for the most stolen bases in the season, to boot. With this much promise showing so early in her career, she’s set to continue on an impressive trajectory.
Giselle Juarez is currently a collegiate player but she’s already caught the eye of softball fans. Her career started out at Arizona State but she recently joined the ranks of the Oklahoma Sooners.
Back when she was a sophomore, she finished with a 1.22 ERA and a record of 26-6 at Arizona State. Not only that, she’s recognized as the only major conference returning pitcher to strike out at least 10 batters every seven innings and worked a minimum of 100 innings.
Sis Bates is truly a modern legend as far as softball is concerned. Playing for Washington, the athlete has shown not only prowess on the field but has enjoyed viral popularity as well.
Rather than being known for her pitching, as many great softball athletes are, she’s carved a following out as a shortstop. In Pac-12, she ranked seventh considering on-base percentage. She was even one of only five players in the league to reach double-digits in her number of base steals.
Courtney Blades was associated with two main teams during her career. From 1997 to 1998, she played for Nicholls State and from 1999 to 2000, she played for Southern Mississippi.
While her team didn’t make it to the top at any national championships, she stood out as an outstanding pitcher. This would later win her a Honda Award in 2000. This was the year that Blades broke the NCAA Division I career strikeout record – previously held by Granger – with 1,773 strikeouts.
Monica Abbot was a competitive softball player from 2004 to 2007. During her career, she made a name for herself as a legendary softball pitcher for future players to look up to.
Her titles include the Honda Award and National Player of the Year in 2007. She even still holds the record for the most strikeouts in a season with a whopping 724 in her repertoire. On top of that, she’s known for having the most shutouts and victories in the NCAA.
Michelle Granger didn’t compete in the Olympics or win a Honda award but her talent shone during her career. Her three-year career ran from 1990 to 1993.
Granger wasn’t without accolades, though. For one, she maintains the NCAA record when it comes to no-hitters in her total career. No one has topped her record of 25 since then. During her career, she broke the then-current strikeout record with a total of 1,640 strikeouts over the course of her career.
Amber Fiser currently plays with Minnesota. Her 2019 stats show her as a player to watch out for with a 1.27 ERA and an 0.91 WHIP.
When she pitched the Minnesota Gophers to Oklahoma City, she didn’t hold back and reached a 31-9 record. This record was accompanied by her total of 346 strikeouts. Putting this in perspective, in 2018, about 30% of her outs were strikeouts, increasing to 45% in 2019. This makes her a great player to have.
From 2010 to 2013, Oklahoma would be the home to another impressive softball athlete: Keilani Ricketts. Ricketts has since gone down in softball history as a fantastic pitcher.
As well as taking a title home for her team, she’d win the Honda Award and National Player of the Year honors in back-to-back years. In 2013, she even won the Honda Broderick Cup aimed at the best collegiate athlete. This sets her apart not only as a great pitcher but among other great pitchers as well.
Another player from Arizona, Alicia Hollowell has made herself stand out as a pitcher. She competed on Arizona’s softball team from 2003 to 2006.
In 2006, Hollowell won the Wildcats a national title and managed to finish the season with a .87 ERA. She also managed to rack up 1,786 strikeouts. In the end, Hollowell holds the record among Arizona pitchers for her strikeout ratio, strikeouts, shutouts, innings pitched, and total career wins. She’s more than earned her place as a softball legend!
Cat Osterman is recognizable to any Texas Longhorn fan from the beginning of her career. In that time, she was nominated the collegiate player of the year three times and won three college world series.
Playing as a Texas Longhorn, she made her debut in the Olympics as well. There, she’d win gold in 2008 and silver in 2008. In 2015, she stepped away from her competitive career but came back for the 2020 Tokyo Games. This time, she held a position of leadership and experience.
Jessie Harper entered her last season with an impressive 66 home runs in her career. This is 11 more career home runs than any other Division I softball players.
With her career still running, though, she still has records she could break. For instance, she’s only 29 career home runs behind the current record holder, Lauren Chamberlain. Additionally, she’s only 27 home runs away from Katiyana Mauga, the record holder for Arizona alone. All in all, she’s a shortstop to keep your eye on.
An Australian softball player, Gabbie Plain plays for the University of Washington softball team, the Huskies. She’s made her mark as a pitcher on the team.
The young athlete made her freshman appearance in 2018. That year, the Huskies made it to the 2018 Women’s College World Series, although the team lost to Florida State. She also started training for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Now, only playing as a junior in college, Plain has pitched 35 innings in her career.
Jessica Mendoza sticks out among her peers because her strength actually isn’t in pitching. Rather, she made great use of a bat and was known for her quick but thoughtful decisions.
As a competitor in college, Mendoza started her career at Stanford. Still, the athlete is much better known for her Olympic participation. She competed both in the 2004 Athens Games and in the 2008 Beijing Games. She was on the U.S. gold medal team in 2004 and a silver medal U.S. team in 2008.
Lately, the Florida State Seminoles have left fans wondering about their pitching strength. Yet, Sydney Sherrill still shines in her role on the team, keeping the team in good standing.
She started out as a freshman and her performance only improved when she returned as a sophomore, showing promise for the future. That’s even more impressive considering her team won the national title when she was a freshman. She tied the NCAA record for doubles in a single season too.
When it comes to softball and almost any other sport, people love a good comeback story. Alongside her talent, Morganne Flores has won crowds over with her return to the sport.
Flores originally took a break from the sport due to a knee injury, causing her to miss the entire 2018 softball season. Back in 2019, she started a total of 59 games in her first season back. She also set all-time career highs for her slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and her batting average.
Jocelyn Alo was a fantastic softball player in her first season and she continues to impress now. Her sophomore season stands up against legends but it doesn’t hold a flame to her freshman performance.
In her freshman year, Alo blew everyone out of the water with her 30 home runs and a slugging percentage only narrowly missing 1.000. Now, she ranks in the top 20 returnees in slugging percentage to the Power 5 conferences. She’s also a leader in on-base percentage, something most sophomores don’t accomplish.
Northwestern is an impressive school but their World Series days were more than a decade ago with the run of Eileen Canney. Yet, there’s hope for more with current pitcher Danielle Williams.
When Williams first started her career, she had a memorable debut season with the Big Ten Conference. She stood out with a season that had her ranked sixth on a nationwide level with her strikeout-to-walk ratio. In strikeouts per seven innings, she ranked ninth. This puts her as an up-and-coming legend.
If you want a softball pitcher with plenty of name recognition and the talent to back it up, you’ll be interested in Jennie Finch.
She started with the University of Arizona before graduating to the Chicago Bandits. What really drew public attention, though, was her competition in the Olympics and her lightning-quick fastpitch. Since her competition career has ended, she’s still stayed in athletics as the manager of an independent baseball team and performing as an MLB softball ambassador.