Professional athletes from the city of Tuscaloosa 

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The city known for its top-of-the-line collegiate athletics naturally has had no shortage of names come through the pros. From football to combat sports, it isn’t unlikely to tune in to a big sporting event and see somebody hailing from Tuscaloosa in a professional uniform. 

Deontay Wilder (Professional boxing, former World Boxing Council heavyweight champion) 

Deontay Wilder, one of the most feared knockout artists of this generation, isn’t done in the squared circle yet. Wilder (42-2-1) is reported to be finalizing arrangements to fight again in October in an effort to snap a two-fight skid. He has knocked out everybody he’s ever beaten and defended the WBC heavyweight title 10 times. This includes four championship fights in Alabama. Wilder was born in Tuscaloosa in 1985 and attended Central High School. After he graduated in 2004, he began at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, with plans to transfer to the University of Alabama at some point. Then his life changed completely.  

He fought 43 times before suffering a defeat and the aforementioned title reign took place over a span of more than five years. His iconic nickname, The Bronze Bomber, comes from medaling in amateur boxing at the 2008 Olympics. Wilder made his pro debut later that same year. He possesses 20 first-round knockouts and is still a top-five heavyweight in the world. Wilder’s trilogy opposite Tyson Fury consisted of some of the most lucrative fights that the heavyweight division has seen during recent times, both from an anticipation and a pay-per-view standpoint.  

Some of his notable wins include two crushing knockouts over the man from whom he took the WBC title, Bermane Stiverne, and two stoppage wins over former World Boxing Association titleholder Luis Ortiz. In May, Wilder had a statue unveiled for him in Tuscaloosa, and he attended and spoke at the accompanying event. 


Tim Anderson (Major League Baseball, Chicago White Sox) 

The 2019 batting champion in the American League is also an alumnis of Hillcrest High School, graduating with the class of 2011. Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, a two-time MLB All-Star, has also played for the Birmingham Barons from 2014-2015. 

In his short career, he has been a centerpiece of a reemerging team which in 2020 made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. After batting .322 with 10 homers during the shortened 2020 season, he earned a Silver Slugger award. He has been playing in the majors since 2016. In 2021, he hit a walk-off home run during the inaugural edition of MLB at Field of Dreams, the most-viewed regular season baseball contest since 2005.  

Anderson’s blast led the Sox to a 9-8 victory over the New York Yankees. He was the cover athlete of R.B.I. Baseball 21, the final edition of the video game. As of August, he has 97 career home runs to go with 313 RBIs and a .288 batting average. 


Brian Robinson Jr. (NFL, Washington Commanders) 

Two-time national champion Brian Robinson was born in Tuscaloosa and spent five seasons on the Crimson Tide football team before being drafted in 2022 by the Washington Commanders. His rookie year will be the first for the franchise with the Commanders name.  

Like Anderson, Robinson went to Hillcrest High School. At Alabama, Robinson’s best season was 2021, where he rushed for 1,343 yards and had 16 all-purpose touchdowns. He was a third-round selection in the NFL Draft, going 98th overall. Much like many Alabama football players before him, he waited his turn and became an impact player when his name was called.  

He was the MVP of the Crimson Tide’s 2021 playoff semifinal win over the Cincinnati Bearcats following a 204-yard rushing performance, setting a school record for a bowl game. He inked a four-year deal with Washington after being drafted. 


Bo Scarbrough (USFL, Birmingham Stallions) 

A big talking point on the revived Birmingham Stallions’ USFL title run was the signing of former Crimson Tide running back Bo Scarbrough. After being a part of two national title-winning teams and two SEC title teams, he declared for the NFL Draft in 2018.  

He was a significant offensive contributor in 2016 and in 2017. His monster showing in the 2016-17 College Football Playoff was a play away from culminating in a third college title for Scarbrough, but he was forced out of the championship game due to injury after scoring twice. Several Alabama fans have posited the hypothetical that if Scarbrough plays the full game, the Crimson Tide wins. 

He totaled 1,512 rushing yards in three Alabama seasons to go with 20 touchdowns. Scarbrough was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Sandwiched between Dallas and Seattle was a two-month stop in Jacksonville. 

The bulk of his NFL action came across the 2019 season with the Detroit Lions. He returned to pro football in 2022 after a brief time on Seattle’s regular season roster in 2020 and an offseason stint with the Raiders in 2021. He was also on the Seahawks during the home stretch of the 2018 regular season.  

During the USFL title game against the Philadelphia Stars, Scarbrough ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown.  

As of today, he remains a member of the Stallions.


Lester Cotton (NFL, Las Vegas Raiders) 

After four seasons at Alabama and two titles, Lester Cotton joined the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted free agent. The former four-star out of Central High School started 28 games with the Crimson Tide and was part of an elite pass protection unit which only allowed an average of one sack per game during the 14-1 2018 season. 

He made his NFL debut in 2019, playing in a single game for the then-Oakland Raiders. He has been signed by them several times and was brought on in a future/reserve deal following the 2021-22 season. Cotton also signed such a deal in 2021. He remains on the Raiders roster as of this writing. In the pros, he is playing the right guard position, from which he moved to left guard in 2018. Throughout the duration of his NFL career, he has appeared in five games.  


Herb Jones (NBA, New Orleans Pelicans) 

One of the most impactful players in recent Alabama basketball memory has now emerged as a playmaker at the NBA level. Herb Jones, 2021 SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is a fan favorite who appeared in 78 games during his rookie season in New Orleans. He averaged 9.5 points per game with 3.8 rebounds during the regular season.  

In the 2020-21 season with the Crimson Tide, he was a leader in a group which advanced agonizingly close to a berth in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. That team also swept the SEC regular season and tournament championships. Jones had 11.2 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game. Lauded for his defense during his time at the Capstone, he’s shown that the best of his skills translate to the NBA.  

The Pelicans drafted him in the second round in 2021 with the 35th overall pick and he subsequently made the NBA All-Rookie Second Team during the campaign. The Pelicans also made the playoffs, where Jones averaged 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals across six games.

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