There is no room for team uniforms — or any other articles of clothing — here.
For the ninth year, elite athletes are stripping down and posing with carefully placed sporting equipment for ESPN Magazine‘s Body Issue.
This year’s roster of 23 sports stars celebrating their form includes the Dallas Cowboy’s star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who shows off his famous abs while holding a football in one of the magazine’s covers. Although he was without one of his signature crop tops, Elliott had no problem baring it all for the photo shoot.
“Since I was younger, I’ve never really liked to wear shirts. And I still don’t like to wear shirts, so, I mean, you’ll find me with my shirt off a lot,” he told ESPN.
Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Báez showed off his inked arms (including the tattoo celebrating his 2016 World Series championship) for a photo shoot with a twist — the photographer used an iPhone.
“Going into this, our 9th year of producing BODY, we wanted to do something creatively that we have never done before. We wanted fans to have that moment of awe again where they say, ‘Wow. How did they do that?’” ESPN The Magazine editor-in-chief Alison Overholt said. “We were seeing the incredible images iPhone users post on social media tagged with #shotoniphone and our team said, ‘That’s it. How about we do a BODY shoot on iPhone?’ With Javier on board with us, this cover — and the entire shoot — turned out as beautifully as we imagined.”
Isaiah Thomas doesn’t have the body of a typical NBA star — the Boston Celtics point guard is just 5-9.
“Nobody’s tall in my family,” he told ESPN. “My father is 5-7, so I knew at a young age I wouldn’t be that tall. But when I was younger, I always wanted to be taller. There was a pullup bar in my mom’s basement, and I would do a lot of pullups down there. My mom will tell you that I’d be on there all the time trying to stretch myself out.”
Thomas said his lack of height means he has to work much harder than the big guys on the court.
“I always say nothing’s been given to me; I always took what I believe is mine, and I always took advantage of the opportunity that I’ve got,” he said. “And not to put anything against the bigger guys, but for the most part, they’re handed a lot. Us little guys in the gutter, we’re not handed anything. We’re not given the benefit of the doubt. They always overlook us.”
Other athletes showing it all off in the magazine’s annual issue include tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike and pro softball player A.J. Andrews.
ESPN Magazine’s 2017 Body Issue will debut on ESPN.com on July 5 and hits newsstands on July 7.