Our Favorite Latino Athletes of 2012

Plenty of Latino athletes tore through 2012 – boxing their hearts out, and pummeling, kicking, and hitting the crap out of balls with ferocity. By balls, you know what we mean!

Check out our Favorite Athletes of 2012!

1. Best Athletes 2012: Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony:

The handsome basketball pro (and La La’s hubby) of part-Boricua descent is one of the New York Knicks’ most prized possessions. Besides being named to the All-Rookie team and to the All-Star and All-NBA team several times, the 28-year-old helped The U.S. Dream Team snag gold during the Men’s basketball competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics. “To do it twice is a special moment,” said Carmelo, who also played during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

2. Best Athletes 2012: Marlen Esparza

Marlen Esparza

This 23-year-old boxer had all Latinas rooting for her during the 2012 Summer Olympics. Esparza, who is Mexican-American, became the first American woman boxer to qualify for the Olympics, this being the first year that women’s boxing was an Olympic event. That, in itself, is an accomplishment worthy of praise. We’re also really feeling Esparza’s unwavering dedication to anything she puts her mind to. Check out this recent tweet of hers – she goes hard!

3. Best Athletes 2012: Danell Leyva

Danell Leyva

The Cuban-American cutie had us all wanting to try our hand at gymnastics, but alas, we will save it for the pro. The 21-year-old gymnast snagged bronze for the U.S. in the Men’s Individual All-Around Gymnastics competition during the London Olympics held this past summer. 

4. Best Athletes 2012: Gerard Pique

Gerard Piqué

Not only is he the soon-to-be father of Shakira’s baby (currently growing in her womb), but the 25-year-old Piqué (who was born in Spain) plays for the pro team FC Barcelona. Earlier this month, the team’s fullback was awarded the silver insignia for being a Barça member for 25 years. How’s that possible, if the man is 25? Hours after he was born, Piqué’s grandfather Amador Bernabéu enrolled him into the FC Barcelona.

5. Best Athletes 2012: Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Known simply as A-Rod, the New York Yankees third baseman has for years been extremely sweet both on and off the field for years. The 37-year-old Dominican-American has been a well-above-average player, but is now expected to (unfortunately) miss most of the first half of the 2013 season because of a second hip surgery set for Jan. 2013. No telling how much longer Rodriguez has left in his baseball career, but we’re sure people will still be talking about his career – and, of course, his love life. Remember when he was boo’d up with actress Cameron Diaz? We all do.

6. Best Athletes 2012: Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

He’s an internationally recognized tennis pro who recently had to sit out several months of the tennis season because of a knee injury – and now reportedly has a stomach virus. Still, the 26-year-old chiseled Spaniard is one of our fave athletes because of his obvious passion for the sport. And can we say 11-time Grand Slam singles champion? In fact, he’s so great that there’s a new iPhone app centered on him. We can’t even kid about this stuff; you can now get the inside scoop into his tennis strokes.

7. Best Athletes 2012: Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte

The 28-year-old swimming champ was one of the most talked about athletes during the London Olympics held this past summer. Lochte, whose mother is Cuban, is an 11-time Olympic medalist and won the American Swimmer of the Year Award. Not only does the man know what he’s doing, but Lochte is also a ladies’ fave – becoming the center of many memes for his famous wink photo. Click here to see what we’re talking about

8. Best Athletes 2012: Victor Cruz

Victor Cruz

The New York Giants wide receiver and Super Bowl champ is known for his salsa movies on the football field, something we’ve always gotten a kick out of. The 26-year-old was Latina’s June/July 2012 cover model and told us how his mother Blanca kept him involved in sports so he was “too tired to run the streets.” Guess all that involvement paid off. Another reason we love Cruz? The recent tender tribute the 26-year-old gave to a 6-year-old victim of the Sandy Hook shooting. We love athletes with a big heart.

9. Best Athletes 2012: Leonel Manzano

Leonel Manzano

The Mexican-born American runner snagged the Silver medal in the 1,500-meter-final during the 2012 Summer Olympics. His time? An impressive 3:34.79.  The 27-year-old migrated to the US with his family at the age of 4, without any papers.

Shortly after his win, Manzano took to Twitter to express his joy: “Silver medal, still felt like I won! Representing two countries USA and Mexico!”

10. Best Athletes 2012: Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez

Though Sanchez has not been a total favorite among crazed football fans, the New York Jets quarterback was recently included back in the team’s season finale. The 26-year-old maintained a positive attitude when recently speaking out about his head coach Rex Ryan sitting him down for a second and final time. “I'm trying to be a pro. Trust me, this isn't ideal,” he said. “You've got to do the right thing, and this is the right thing to do.” You gotta love his optimism and mature attitude.

Sanchez has definitely been through a rough year, having been threatened by a crazy fan, and splitting with actress Eva Longoria. Here’s to hoping 2013 treats the handsome athlete much, much better.