With the 2016 Summer Olympics almost here, Luxury Defined has sports in mind, from former Olympic events to past Olympic cities. For those who have wondered how the world’s great sports figures live when they’re off the playing field, we present a roundup of seven homes built, owned, or previously occupied by professional athletes and Olympians.
Red Sox Player’s Riverfront Retreat
Middletown, New Jersey During his 10-year career with the Red Sox, star infielder John Valentin joined elite groups of Major League players including those who have pulled off an unassisted triple play and those who have hit three home runs in a single game. After his last year in professional baseball, which he spent with the New York Mets as a free agent, Valentin built this magnificent riverfront estate in New Jersey for his family. An impressive combination of luxury, location, and amenities, the residence has an indoor pool, bowling alley, racquetball court, spa, activity room with an arcade, and exercise room with a sauna. Outside, terraced stairs lead down to a private dock on the river for boating and fishing, and further recreational activities are just minutes away at the Navesink Country Club or local beaches.
Longwood, FloridaWhile leading the Orlando Magic to three division titles, Dwight Howard—now with the Atlanta Hawks—lived in this breathtaking Florida mansion. Built on a large scale, the five-bedroom manor on six acres was designed with the utmost attention to detail and craftsmanship. The travertine marble driveway and 30-foot-high travertine arches barely suggest the grandeur of the colonnaded and Gothic-arched central hall. The wood-panelled billiard room has a fireplace, full bar, and carved-wood ceiling, there are private balconies in the bedrooms, and the wine cellar with tasting area can accommodate an extensive collection. Exterior amenities include a pool with multiple beaches and waterfalls, a lazy river, and an opulent barbecue area.
Francesco Molinari’s Chelsea Manse
London, United Kingdom Italian pro golfer Francesco Molinari, whose instrumental play against Tiger Woods in the 2012 Ryder Cup helped bring the coveted trophy back to Europe, is the current owner of this roomy four-bedroom Chelsea home (even though, as a football fan, he supports West Ham United). The cheerful and open family room on the lower ground floor enjoys natural light from a glass-walled glazed courtyard, and courtyard stairs rise to the main floor’s west-facing garden deck. While the main floor has a balcony off the drawing room, the top floor is dedicated to an airy master bedroom suite that, like nearly every room in the house, boasts natural morning and evening light from both east- and west-facing windows.
Shortstop Slugger’s Lakefront Spread
Orlando, Florida This Orlando waterfront estate currently belongs to baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, a nine-time Silver Slugger, three-time Gold Glove award winner, 12-time MLB All-Star player, and 1995 National League MVP. Among the seven-bedroom mansion’s many amenities, several are especially appealing to sports enthusiasts including the covered boathouse with multiple slips, lighted tennis/basketball court, and separate gym with waterfront views and a full bathroom. The master suite has its own wet bar, fireplace, spa bath, and steam showers as well as an attached sitting room or nursery. A professional sound studio, disco, theater room, game room, and outdoor theater—and separate two-story guest quarters with garage—help make this golf community home perfect for entertaining.
Uptown Gene’s Outdoorsy Abode
Great Falls, Virginia This three-story stone and timber home is owned by the widow of the late Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw. “Uptown Gene” was the only NFL player to reach the Super Bowl three times in three different decades (in 1967, 1976, and 1980) with the same team. The home’s upper floors feature exposed beams and half-timber construction and open onto spacious decks overlooking the tree-lined property. The ground floor has wood-framed doors, long arched wood-framed windows, and echoing arches between the gourmet kitchen and the breakfast room. The master suite spans the length of several rooms and has a workout area.
Garden State Equestrian Escape
Lebanon, New Jersey Built circa 1780 and once a stagecoach stop, Ridge Farm in northern New Jersey is the home of accomplished equestrian Nona Garson. Since competing in the 2000 Olympics, Garson has turned the property into a world-class equestrian training center. A two-bay carriage house and bank barn with eight stalls are now joined by a modern barn with three aisles and 31 stalls, an insulated indoor riding ring, a lighted outdoor riding ring, and eight fenced paddocks. There is also a trunk room, cleaning area, and viewing room as well as heated tack rooms, heated indoor and outdoor wash stalls, and medicine and feed rooms. The charming, farm-style home features beamed ceilings, woodburning fireplaces and a woodburning stove, panelled wainscoting, and classic hardwood floors.
The Great White Shark’s Grand Island Getaway
Jupiter Island, Florida Australian golf legend Greg Norman (also known as “The Great White Shark” or just “The Shark”) has called this expansive island estate home. The property boasts its own putting green as well as a tennis pavilion, full gym, skate park, resort-style swimming pool, grill house, and beach cottage. The Colonial-style main residence flanks two sides of a palm-lined courtyard, and the tropically landscaped ocean side of the property has two guest houses. At the back, an immaculate lawn and a putting green stretch all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway. Private, expansive, and secure, this eight-acre estate offers island living at its best.