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Athletes in film

"Raging Bull" (1980) -- Robert De Niro won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of explosive middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta -- he also famously put on 60 pounds to play the older, post-boxing LaMotta. (1980) Credit: AP Photo

Take a look at some of the best sports films of all time -- some starring pro athletes and others chronicling the lives of sports greats.

Credit: AP Photo

"Ali" (2001) -- Will Smith played heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali during a tumultuous decade of his life (1964-74). Smith trained seven hours a day to get Ali's boxing moves down. (2001)

Credit: AP Photo

"The Pride of the Yankees" (1942) -- Gary Cooper receieved an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the Yankees' first baseman, who had died a year earlier from the degenerative disease that would ultimately bear his name. In this photo, Gary Cooper, playing Lou Gehrig, center, crosses home after hitting a home run during filming of the movie. At right is New York Yankees catcher Bill Dickey (8), playing himself. (June 30, 1942)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in
Credit: AP Photo

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in "Airplane!" (1980) -- The NBA's king of the sky hook had a starring role in the disaster-flick parody as co-pilot Roger Murdock -- who may or may not have been Abdul-Jabbar trying to go incognito. Rossie Harris, 10, is in the center and Peter Graves, right. (1980)

Johnny Weissmuller in
Credit: AP Photo

Johnny Weissmuller in "Tarzan" -- The U.S. Olympic swimming and water-polo gold medalist transformed himself in to the big-screen verison of Edgar Rice Burrough's vine-swinging hero. Maureen O'Sullivan is Jane in the 1936 movie "Tarzan Escapes."

Michael Jordan in
Credit: AP Photo

Michael Jordan in "Space Jam" (1996) -- His Airness hit the big-screen with a group of unusual co-stars: Looney Tunes characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd. Left is Bill Murray, with Bugs Bunny in the center. (1996)

O.J. Simpson in
Credit: Handout

O.J. Simpson in "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" (1988) -- Before he became a tabloid fixture, the ex-NFL star had carved out a movie career for himself, including a role as Nordberg in this classic parody film. (1994)

Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

"Miracle" (2004) -- Kurt Russell was Herb Brooks, coach of the U.S. Olympic ice-hockey team who upset the powerful Soviet squad at the 1980 Lake Placid games. In this scene, Brooks is told that his group of college players don't stand a chance at the 1980 Olympic Games against the juggernaut from the Soviet Union.

Credit: VNU Digital / Universal Studios / George Kraychyk Universal Studios

"Cinderellla Man" (2005) -- Russell Crowe starred as 1930s heavyweight champ James J. Braddock in this biopic directed by Ron Howard. On the right is Art Binkowski who plays Corn Griffin. (May 24, 2005)

Credit: AP Photo

"Raging Bull" (1980) -- Robert DeNiro won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of explosive middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta -- he also famously put on 60 pounds to play the older, post-boxing LaMotta. (1980)

Credit: AP Photo

"The Greatest" (1977) -- Muhammad Ali starred as himself in the movie that covered his life from the 1960 Olympics to his regaining the heavyweight crown from George Foreman in their famous "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in 1974. Here, Ali, right, does a cheek to cheek goodbye to actor James Earl Jones who plays Malcolm X. (Oct. 12, 1976)

Credit: Handout

"Brian's Song" (1971) -- One of the best TV movies ever made, the drama told the story of the friendship between two Chicago Bears players, Brian Piccolo (James Caan, right), who was stricken with terminal cancer after turning pro, and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams, left). (1971)

Credit: AP Photo

"Knute Rockne, All American" (1940) -- Pat O'Brien, left, played the title character, Notre Dame's legendary football coach. But the movie is best remembered for Ronald Reagan's performance as one of his players, George Gipp, whose tragic death inspired Rockne to tell his squad, "Win just one for the Gipper." Reagan is on the right. (1940)

Credit: Warner Bros.

"Cobb" (1994) -- Tommy Lee Jones starred as the irascible Ty Cobb -- as an embittered, misanthropic 72-year-old. While filming the movie's one flashback scene, Jones broke his ankle while practicing Cobb's distinctive slide. (1994)

Credit: Getty

"The Jackie Robinson Story" (1950) -- Sixty-three years before "42," Robinson played himself in the movie that chronicled how he became baseball's first black player. Actress Ruby Dee plays his wife Rachel or Rae. (1950)

Credit: AP Photo CJDES

"The Babe Ruth Story" (1948) -- William Bendix was the Yankees' "Sultan of Swat." The movie was rush-released while Ruth was still alive (he would die in August of 1948). Here, Babe Ruth, who used to hold the bat way down at the end, shows actor William Bendix how he used to hold the bat -- way down at the end. Ruth was on hand as Bendix went through batting scenes for the movie cameras in Hollywood. (May 4, 1948)


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