Shaquille O’Neal

Cast your mind back to the mid-90s and you will no doubt remember a time when Shaquille O’Neal was one of basketball’s biggest personalities, both literally and figuratively. Movie deals, endorsements and all the trappings of fame came along with his ascent, including the opportunity to become the main character in a beat-‘em-up.

The result was Shaq Fu, which released in 1994 and made use of rotoscoping to turn still images into digital characters to best represent its star. It was critically panned at the time and has become infamous for its poor quality, although a sequel did eventually arrive a quarter of a century later.

Frankie Dettori

As one of the world’s most successful jockeys, Frankie Dettori has made history on several occasions. He is also one of the few sports heroes to have appeared in his very own video slots game.

Frankie Dettori’s Magic 7 is a fairly basic five reel slot, but it features plenty of images of the great man himself, along with appealing animations and even a horse racing mini-game that emulates all the excitement of pounding down the course. If you enjoy slot games, you may also be interested in another game based on the jockey Peter Scudamore.

Bruce Lee

This is an interesting one, as while martial arts legend Bruce Lee arguably is not a sports star in his own right, he is credited with helping popularize mixed martial arts, which has since grown into a hugely popular sport.

It is no surprise, then, that Lee was honored with an appearance in EA Sports UFC back in 2014, and has since cropped up in a number of subsequent releases as well. There is even talk of developing an entire title based around Lee himself, although this has yet to materialize.

Mike Tyson

One of the earliest sports heroes to be turned into a video game character was boxing behemoth Mike Tyson, who first appeared in interactive form all the way back in 1987.

The retro NES classic Punch-Out!! featured Tyson as the final boss, although it is worth noting that due to a limited time licensing agreement, subsequent releases of the game had to cut him altogether. Tyson also only appeared on Punch-Out!! in its western release; over in Asia the character Super Macho Man was used in his place.

Tony Hawk

With 17 video games bearing his name, skateboarding stalwart Tony Hawk is arguably the sports star who has made the most successful transition to the world of interactive entertainment.

Starting back in 1999 with the first Pro Skater title on PlayStation and proceeding to expand across almost every platform, from the Xbox and Dreamcast in the early years to smart devices in the more recent past, Tony Hawk helped to make this extreme sport a mainstream concern.

The quality of the games declined over time and the main strand of the series has effectively been brought to a shuddering halt through the sheer weight of its awfulness, but Hawk himself has definitely been immortalized many times over thanks to his appearances in them. Most other sports heroes will no doubt be jealous of just how firmly this gaming franchise has secured the Bird Man’s legacy.