LeBron James, U.S., Basketball
The Cavaliers’ superstar forward LeBron James not only passed Olympic muster this year, but also met SpongeBob SquarePants’ approval. The two celebs have teamed up as part of Nickelodeon’s Big Green Help campaign aimed at encouraging kids to go green.
Amanda Beard, U.S., Swimming
Gold-medal-winning swimmer, TV commentator, professional model, and Playboy cover girl Amanda Beard has yet another title to add to her business card: wildlife advocate. Beard recently filmed a public service announcement (PSA) for WildAid that calls attention to the plight of sharks, and she’s also appeared in TV ads for Defenders of Wildlife.
Adam Craig, U.S., Cycling
Clearly, Adam Craig enjoys the outdoors on his mountain bike, but he also digs skiing and kayaking, and he wants to do his part to protect the natural world. To that end, he’s signed on to the GreenLaces campaign, which asks athletes to make a personalized promise to reduce their environmental impact.
Heather O’Reilly, U.S., Soccer
A forward on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, Heather O’Reilly has also proven herself forward-thinking on the environment, making a GreenLaces pledge to help protect the planet.
Aaron Peirsol, U.S., Swimming
Not merely a champion in the water, swimmer Aaron Peirsol is also a champion for the water. Peirsol has partnered with Oceana on a Race for the Oceans campaign, which encourages swimmers and swim fans to “dive into ocean conservation.” Just two weeks after Peirsol set a new world record in the 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic trials, he took advantage of the media spotlight and released a new PSA calling for protection of the oceans from pollution and industrial fishing.
Nicole Barnhart, U.S., Soccer
U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart has set a green goal for herself, pledging via GreenLaces to lead a more eco-friendly life.
Carmelo Anthony, U.S., Basketball
Shocked to learn that the tiger, his favorite animal, was in serious trouble, Denver Nuggets’ small forward Carmelo Anthony hooked up with WildAid to raise awareness about endangered animals and stop illegal wildlife trade. In a PSA, Anthony gives defensive advice to his favorite cat and other threatened critters.
Tom Paradiso, U.S., Rowing
This Olympic rower pledged to the GreenLaces campaign that he would bring reusable shopping bags to the grocery store, unplug appliances when they’re not being used, and start a compost pile.
Rachel Buehler, U.S., Soccer
Rachel Buehler, a defender on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, is also defending the environment through her GreenLaces pledge.
Steven Lopez & Mark Lopez, U.S., Taekwondo
Two-time Olympic gold-medal winner Steven Lopez and his younger brother Mark share a talent for taekwondo (as does their sister Diana, who’s also going to the Olympics to compete in the sport, and their oldest brother Jean, who coaches the trio). Steven and Mark also share a commitment to conservation, demonstrated by their participation in the GreenLaces campaign.
Yao Ming, China, Basketball
Yao Ming made his name as an NBA superstar playing for the Houston Rockets, but in Beijing he’ll play for his home country. He hopes to bring more than gold to China — he also wants to bring an attitude change about conservation. China is the world’s largest importer of illegal wildlife products, and Yao has used his celebrity to denounce animal poaching and call for an end to shark-fin soup, a traditional Chinese delicacy. “Endangered species are our friends,” he says.
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, Norway, Cycling
One of the world’s most accomplished female mountain bikers, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå of Norway became a national champion within months of picking up the sport. She’s shown a similar tenacity with her willingness to speak up for environmental protection as part of the U.N. Environment Program’s “Champion for the Environment” campaign.
Catherine Ndereba, Kenya, Marathon
Clean-air advocate and reigning women’s marathon world champion, Catherine Ndereba became part of the UNEP “Champion for the Environment” campaign to raise awareness of air pollution. The Nairobi resident believes that “more people need to use their legs rather than cars, whenever possible, to reduce air pollution.”
Marlies Oostdam, New Zealand, Soccer
A winner of every major soccer award New Zealand has to bestow, Marlies Oostdam will be leading the Kiwis on their quest to medal in Beijing. But gold is not the only color on her mind. The “Dutch Destroyer” is a GreenLaces athlete and big fan of recycling.
Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopia, Track and Field
Earlier this year, marathon world-record holder Haile Gebrselassie made international headlines when he withdrew from the Olympic marathon over air-pollution concerns. He’ll compete in the 10,000-meter race instead. An asthmatic runner, he cares a lot about air quality, and environmental protection in general. He’s promoted clean air and conservation as part of the U.N. Environment Program’s “Champion for the Environment” campaign and in a WildAid PSA.