A superstar, a legend and the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan is all this and much more. Very few athletes can match up with his level of popularity and impact. And if that is not enough, he is also the richest former professional athlete in the world.
Tupac Amaru Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac or Makaveli, is considered as one of the greatest American rappers of all time. Talent and trouble went hand in hand in Shakur’s journey to fame; the higher Shakur rose in his iconic status, the deeper he became entangled in gang violence and an infamous rivalry, which sadly led to his untimely demise.
A former professional boxer who reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion for three years, Mike Tyson is considered a colossal figure in boxing. Claiming his first heavyweight title at the young age of 20, he went on to become one of the best heavyweights of all time. Also a controversial person, he was once imprisoned on rape charges.
Jon Jones, the American professional mixed martial artist, is widely regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever. He holds many Ultimate Fighting Championship records in the light heavyweight division. However, he has been also been involved in several controversies and has been arrested for felony, hit-and-run charges and has tested positive for banned substances.
A man whose music has been marked by an aggressive style of rapping, 6ix9ine is a figure who is as controversial as he is popular. Making waves in the music scene with his debut album in 2018, the upcoming rapper became involved in a string of sexual offenses and other felonies. Despite his legal issues, he continues to be popular.
Aaliyah was an American singer, actress and model, who became famous when her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number sold three million copies in the US. Her subsequent albums also sold in millions and won her numerous accolades. She also acted in some films. She tragically died in an airplane crash in the Bahamas, at the age of 22.
Actor, director, and producer, Denzel Washington, is famous for portraying strong real-life characters like anti-apartheid activist, Steve Biko, and human rights activist, Malcolm X, in films. Well-built and ruggedly handsome, he became the first black star to be named the Sexiest Man Alive in 1996.
The Notorious B.I.G. was a rapper and songwriter and is considered one of the best ever. His debut album Ready to Die in 1994 was critically acclaimed. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in September 1996. His album Life After Death was released two weeks after his death.
Jay-Z is an American rapper and songwriter and is one of the world's best-selling music artists. His debut album Reasonable Doubt was hugely successful in 1996 and since then he has gone on to release many more acclaimed and successful albums. He has been charged with assaulting a record executive and was given a three-year probation sentence in January 2000.
10 Eddie Murphy
Actor and comedian, Eddie Murphy, is one of the highest-grossing actors in the United States. Beginning his career as a comedian on the TV show Saturday Night Live, he went on to become a bankable movie actor. Also a singer, he has released many studio albums. He has been awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Accomplished American comedian, actress, singer and Broadway star, Whoopi Goldberg is amongst the select few who have won all the four awards—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Moreover, she is also a political activist, author and talk show host. Her notable work include films Ghost, Sister Act and The Color Purple; Broadway show Thoroughly Modern Millie and talk show The View.
Best known for playing real-life black women in biopics, Angela Bassett does not mind being typecast as someone who often plays biographical roles. She has portrayed prominent personalities like Tina Turner, Betty Shabazz, Katherine Jackson, and Coretta Scott King. Also a director, producer, and activist, Angela Bassett works toward bettering the lives of African-Americans.
13 50 Cent
From selling drugs and getting arrested in his teens to becoming one of the world’s best-selling rappers, Curtis James Jackson III’s journey has been an interesting one. Better known by his stage name 50 Cent, his albums have sold in millions. However, despite being one of the richest celebrities, he filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015 due to financial troubles.
Luther Vandross was an American record producer and singer-songwriter. As a background vocalist, Vandross contributed to the success of several songs recorded by artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Judy Collins. Regarded as a singer with one of the greatest voices in recorded history, Luther Vandross' works have influenced many artists like D'Angelo, Jaheim, Ne-Yo, John Legend, and Usher.
A star basketball player currently with Portland Trail Blazers, Carmelo Anthony was first drafted by Denver Nuggets and played eight seasons with them. Amongst the most prolific scorer in NBA history, he played another seven season with New York Knicks. At the Olympics, Anthony was part of the teams that won bronze medal in 2004 and gold-medal in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist whose legacy has had an influence upon fashion, film, music, and literature. He serves as an inspiration to street artists as he started off as one, painting graffiti on buildings. After his death, at the age of 27, the value of his work has increased; in 2017, one of his paintings sold for a record $110.5 million.
17 Sean Combs
Widely considered one of the greatest rappers ever, Nas has seven platinum and multi-platinum albums under his belt in the US. In 2006, he was ranked fifth on MTV's The Greatest MCs of All Time list. In 2012, he was ranked second on the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time list published by The Source. He is also an entrepreneur.
19 Alicia Keys
Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has been active in the music industry since the mid-1990s. Her debut album was a super hit and earned her five Grammy Awards. She is one of the best-selling artists in the United States and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She is also known for her humanitarian work, philanthropy, and activism.
Louis Farrakhan, formerly known as Louis X, is the leader of the ‘Nation of Islam’ which has been called a black nationalist organisation and a hate group. He has been described as anti-Semitic by monitoring organisations and has been accused of promoting anti-white theology and black superiority over whites. He was banned from Facebook in 2019 for being an extremist.
23 Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom is an American basketball player who helped Los Angeles Lakers win two NBA championships. He also played an important role in helping the US national team win a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Lamar Odom is also a music enthusiast and owns a film and music production company called Rich Soil Entertainment.
Nicknamed “Mister Show Business,” posthumous Grammy-winner Samuel Davis Jr. was a multifaceted performer who excelled in dancing, singing, and acting. From delivering vaudeville performances as a child, Samuel graduated to creating Billboard charters and performing with Frank Sinatra as part of the Rat Pack. Sadly, he died in debt.
Amongst the greatest writers of the 20th century and a leading literary voice in the civil rights movement, James Baldwin extensively explored issues like race, sexuality and humanity in his work. His best known work include his debut novel Go Tell It on the Mountain and his books of essays Notes of a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name.
Public Welfare Medal-winning astrophysicist and academic Neil deGrasse Tyson hosted shows such as NOVA ScienceNow, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and Star Talk. He is the director of Hayden Planetarium and contributed to the dismissal of Pluto’s status as the ninth planet. He has also written a monthly column as "Merlin.”
29 LL Cool J
LL Cool J is an American rapper, entrepreneur, and record producer. Such is his popularity that LL Cool J was named on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time in 2010. In 2017, he became the first rapper to be awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors. Over the years, Cool J has had a profound influence on hip-hop.
30 Robin Givens
Robin Givens is an American model and actress whose professional life during the late-1980s was overshadowed by her violent marriage to Mike Tyson. Subsequently, their acrimonious divorce drew considerable media attention as Givens claimed physical abuse, with Tyson admitting to punching her in the face.
32 Damon Wayans
An important member of the popular Wayans family, Damon Wayans is a stand-up comedian and actor. Over the years, Damon Wayans has been a prominent and influential member of popular sketch comedy series, such as In Living Color and Saturday Night Live.
33 Cicely Tyson
34 Keith David
American actress, Kerry Washington, attained fame when she starred in the television series, Scandal, which ran from 2012 to 2018. She was also commended for her role in the television film, Confirmation, and for the miniseries, Little Fires Everywhere. She has also acted in films like The Last King of Scotland, Django Unchained, Our Song, The Dead Girl and American Son.
36 Tracy Morgan
R&B and hip-hop singer Teyana Taylor gained fame with MTV's My Super Sweet 16. She signed with Kanye West’s label and also appeared on the reality show Teyana and Iman, with her husband, NBA player Iman Shumpert. In December 2020, she announced her retirement from music through Instagram.
Michael Jai White is an American martial artist and actor. When he portrayed Al Simmons in the film Spawn, White became one of the first black actors to play a major comic book superhero in the history of American film industry. Known for his martial arts skills, White has played leading roles in popular action films like Mortal Kombat: Legacy.
39 Ving Rhames
40 Busta Rhymes
42 Al Roker
43 Colin Powell
A veteran politician who served as the 65th United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell was the first African-American Secretary of State. A member of the Republican Party, he was an army man prior to entering politics. He was a four-star general at the time of his retirement. After leaving politics, he pursued a career as a public speaker.
44 Tatyana Ali
Tatyana Ali is an American singer and actress who gained recognition as a child actress, portraying Ashley Banks on the sitcom TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Ali's singing abilities, showcased throughout the series, helped her release her debut studio album Kiss the Sky. Unlike many successful child artists, Ali was able to establish herself as an adult actress.
Alfonso Ribeiro is an American actor, television personality, and dancer who got to dance alongside Michael Jackson for a Pepsi commercial when the former was just a kid. Since then, Ribeiro has not looked back and later used his dancing skills to become an actor. He currently hosts one of the most beloved TV shows ever, America's Funniest Home Videos.
49 Sanaa Lathan
50 Glynn Turman
Glynn Turman is an American actor, filmmaker, and writer. In a career spanning over 60 years. Some of the notable characters that he has portrayed are: Lew Miles in the movie Peyton Place, Leroy Jackson in the film Cooley High, and Bradford Taylor in the sitcom A Different World. He has also won several awards like the NAACP Image Award.