By Colleen Kane

It's no secret that the top professional athletes are among the highest-paid people anywhere. When those prizes or multimillion-dollar contracts start rolling in, one of the first investments that athletes often make is a conspicuously lavish car costing an amount that would take one of their typical fans years to earn.

This "first prize" on four wheels is often followed by a second car, and a third, and so on. Numerous websites are dedicated to documenting the comings and goings of celebrities' garages, and no small portion of this coverage is made up of professional athletes.

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Slideshow: Favorite cars of athletes

When it comes to favorite makes and models of such cars, for athletes the name of the game is luxury and status. To a lesser extent, detailing and customization often play a role, including dramatic wheel hub treatments and custom trimmings. Another favorite car option for athletes is to completely refurbish a classic vintage vehicle.

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The following collection of vehicles of vehicles encompasses the cars most often seen being driven by stars from football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis, swimming, skateboarding, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Favorite Cars Of Athletes Slideshow



Olympic swimming medalist Michael Phelps drives a MBZ SL63. Mercedes is also a popular maker with basketball players like Dwyane Wade, who drives an SLR McLaren with gull-wing doors, LeBron James, who drives an S63 AMG, Brandon Rush who has an S550, and Stephen Curry who has a G55 SUV.



An article in The Telegraph reported that soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo and seven of his then-teammates on Manchester United had Continental GTs. Also in the article was this tidbit: Among his soccer-playing peers, only two cars were more popular than the Bentley -- the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport.


Range Rover

We’ve got athletes of every stripe cruising the highways in Land Rover Range Rovers, each choosing their own variation on the vehicle. Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova (pictured here) has been an ambassador for the Land Rover brand since age 18. Teenage pro skateboarder Ryan Scheckler chose for his first car a black Range Rover with red spoked hubcaps, a red grill, and red windshield wipers. Golfer Greg Norman drives a limited edition Range Rover sport.


Maserati Gran Turismo

Shawn Marion, sometimes called The Matrix, of the Dallas Mavericks drives a vibrant yellow Gran Turismo. Other Maserati drivers include basketball players Carlos Boozer and Dan Dickau, as well as football player Clinton Portis, who has a Gran Turismo and baseball player Kenshin Kawakami, who has a Gran Turismo S.


Ford F-150

Not all athletes decide to invest in a luxury sedan once they hit the big time. The classic and, dare we say, possibly even practical Ford F-150 pickup truck is the auto model of choice for UFC fighter Cain Velasquez as well as baseball star Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves.

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Click here for complete slideshow to see nine lavishly appointed favorites, plus one vehicle that's much more rough and tough-like the athletes themselves.

-- Check out Sports Biz with Darren Rovell.