Legendary Canadian Hall of Famer, Gary Gait, is widely considered the greatest lacrosse player the world has ever seen. He achieved the NLL Sportsmanship Award twice and the NLL MVP award a record six times in his career spreading between 1987 and 2006. His fellow Canadian player Brodie Merrill and legendary American star Paul Rabil also deserve their mentions among the greatest lacrosse players of all time.
Lacrosse is one of the oldest organized sports in North America. The sport is known for its teamwork and aggression. The gameplay of the game is super thrilling, which excites the fans. The players of the sport are known for their toughness.
The attackmen, midfielders, defensemen, and goalie of the team put their total effort into winning. Here we listed the greatest Lacrosse players of all time. These legends impressed the Lacrosse fans with their exceptional performances and career achievements.
Greatest Lacrosse Players | All-Time Ranking
- Greatest Lacrosse Players | All-Time Ranking
- 10. Jason Coffman – Popular Lacrosse Player
- 9. Jim Thorpe – Lacrosse Star
- 8. Oren Lyons – Iconic Lacrosse Player
- 7. John Grant Sr. – Lax Expert
- 6. Jimmy Lewis – Greatest Living Lacrosse Player
- 5. Dave Pietramala – Pro Lacrosse Coach
- 4. Michael Powell – Professional Lacrosse Star
- 3. Paul Rabil – Highest-paid Lacrosse Player
- 2. Brodie Merrill – Best Lacrosse Player
- 1. Gary Gait – Top Lacrosse Ninja
- Final Words
- Greatest Lacrosse Players – 2023 Infographics
- FAQs Regarding Greatest Lacrosse Players
10. Jason Coffman – Popular Lacrosse Player
Known for his ability to play with great speed and a keen eye for the net, he was a great player. At Salisbury, he finished his career as the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer with 451. Even as we get deeper into the shot clock era, it doesn’t look like that record will be broken anytime soon.
Salisbury’s Coffman was part of the first two national title-winning teams, in addition to many other personal accomplishments. An attackman, he was named to the first team of All-American team four times (1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996) and a two-time Player of the Year (1994, 1995).
Aside from career goals of 249, career assists of 202, and single-season points of 126, Coffman sits in the NCAA’s top five in career points. Coffman is also known as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time because of his remarkable career in the sport.
Coffman’s career, indeed, was one of the greatest in-game history and one of the most underrated. His name should be up there with the other greats of the game in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame because he has never received the respect or recognition he rightfully deserves.
9. Jim Thorpe – Lacrosse Star
Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912, making him the best athlete of the 20th Century. His gold medals were, however, revoked for some technical reasons. There was later an opinion that it was an injustice to him.
He’s one of the best, but that’s up for debate. His accomplishments and achievements throughout his life speak for themselves. Thorpe is also among the very few players who played multiple sports during their heydays.
A foremost athlete, Thorpe earned the title “world’s greatest athlete” from King Gustav V. Born on May 28, 1887, in Oklahoma, he played both baseball and football professionally. Acting became a career for him after retirement. It was immediately apparent to him that he possessed the athletic ability.
He also set many records while in Carlisle. Furthermore, he was one of the greatest lacrosse players in the country due to his victories over Army, Pittsburgh, Harvard, Penn, Syracuse, and Nebraska.
8. Oren Lyons – Iconic Lacrosse Player
The Wolf Clan Faith keeper, Oren R. Lyons Jr., was born in 1930 in Seneca, New York. As part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Seneca tribe belongs to the Six Nation group. Throughout his career, he has held leadership roles in the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the Commission’s Indigenous Peoples Working Group.
Lyons has a tremendous athletic career and is known as one of the greatest lacrosse players. He always surprised the sports fans with great performances and achievements.
The former Syracuse University lacrosse star became increasingly active as a voice for Indigenous peoples after his undergraduate years. Upon joining the faculty of the University of Buffalo, he became an American Studies professor.
Lyons received an athletic scholarship for lacrosse from Syracuse University, where, along with his academic and athletic accolades, he won the Orange Key.
7. John Grant Sr. – Lax Expert
Having played in Major League Lacrosse, the National Lacrosse League, and the Ontario Lacrosse Association, John Christopher Grant Jr. was born November 7, 1974, in Toronto, Ontario. Johns Hopkins has named Grant Jr. as the offensive coordinator for the men’s lacrosse team in 2020.
John Grant Sr. played for the original Philadelphia Wings and the Ontario Lacrosse Association before becoming a star. The eldest, Grant Jr., who goes by Junior, holds a degree in physical education from the University of Delaware. Besides, he also counted among the most important athletes of this sport.
Initially, Grant played junior lacrosse with the Peterborough Lakers in the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s Junior A Lacrosse League. His career highlights include being named All-American in 1994 and 1993, 1994, and 1995. He won the Top Rookie of the Year award in 1995 with the Peterborough Lakers of the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL). He was named MSL Most Valuable Player in 2000.
Grant is also one of the great lacrosse players in history who gained a lot of respect among fans. Moreover, as a member of the Coquitlam Adanacs in the Western Lacrosse Association from 2002 to 2003, Grant was an All-Star.
6. Jimmy Lewis – Greatest Living Lacrosse Player
Lacrosse All-American James C. Lewis played at the Navy from 1964 to 1966, leading his team to national titles all three years and a perfect season each time. As a committee selected the national champions during these years, the Navy won its national championships with the Wingate Memorial Trophy format. According to The Baltimore Sun, in 1966, Lewis was the “greatest living lacrosse player.”
Lewis scored 169 points in his Navy lacrosse career, ranking fifth all-time. When he was on the team all three years of his college career, Lewis earned the Jack Turnbull Award in 1964, 1965, and 1966. As a lacrosse player for the Navy, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981 and is known as the best there ever was. He received the Sword for Men award in 1966.
Lewis is one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time because of their impressive career. The Midshipmen won their fourth straight undisputed national championship in 1965 after Lewis led the Navy to a 12 and 0 record while defeating Army 18-7. This was 22 consecutive victories for the Navy.
At the time when USILA voted for the top teams, Lewis led the Navy to three straight National Championships. In the eight years between 1960 and 1968, the Navy won or shared eight consecutive national championships. This is considered the most successful stretch in Navy lacrosse history.
5. Dave Pietramala – Pro Lacrosse Coach
Former head coach of the men’s lacrosse team at Johns Hopkins University, Dave Pietramala, was born in 1967. The U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee is regarded as one of the greatest lacrosse players in the defenceman position. His accomplishments as a player and coach in men’s lacrosse include winning both player and coach of the year honors.
John is a native of Hicksville, New York, and attended St. Mary’s High School. On George Pietramala’s advice, Pietramala chose to attend Johns Hopkins University to play lacrosse for the powerhouse. At Hopkins, Pietramala was a member of the 1987 National Championship team. As the nation’s best defenseman in 1988 and 1989, he was awarded the Schmeisser Award.
He was also honored with the 1989 Enners Award for being the best player in the country. At Hopkins, he also earned three first-team all-American honors. The International Lacrosse Federation honored him with All-World selections in 1990 and 1994 and the Best and Fairest Player (MVP) title.
In addition to Pietramala being named to the 1995 NCAA Silver Anniversary Team, he received the Johns Hopkins All-Time Team and Lacrosse Magazine’s All-Century Team. He has won other awards and become one of the greatest lacrosse players in history. 2004 was the year he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
4. Michael Powell – Professional Lacrosse Star
A four-time honorable mention All-American at Syracuse University, Michael Powell was born on October 29, 1982. He also served as a player for the Baltimore Bay hawks and Boston Cannons.
Furthermore, he played on the United States team in both the 2002 and the 2006 World Lacrosse Championships, serving as an All-World selection both times.
As a six-time Jack Turnbull Award winner and the top attackman in Division I lacrosse, Powell is the only player to have won it four successively. Also, during his career, he won the Tewaaraton Trophy, the lacrosse equivalent of the Heisman Trophy.
Among male players, only two have won the Tewaraton Trophies twice, like Powell. As Syracuse’s first two national champions, he holds the school’s career points record making him one of the greatest lacrosse players in history.
3. Paul Rabil – Highest-paid Lacrosse Player
Known professionally as Paul Rabil, he plays lacrosse professionally with the Cannons Lacrosse Club of the Premier Lacrosse League, which he co-founded. His previous Major League Lacrosse teams included the Boston Cannons and the New York Lizards.
Boston Cannons selected Rabil as the top pick in the 2008 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft. Additionally, he participated in the MLL All-Star Game of that year.
During the 2009 season, Rabil won both the MVP award and the Offensive Player Award in MLL. As a first-team all-pro, Rabil was on the all-star team for the third straight season in 2010. Besides that, in 2011, Rabil won his second MVP and Offensive Player of the Year title.
Moreover, in 2011, he won both the MLL Bud Light Skills Competition and the MLL Fastest Shot competition, making him the first player to have won both. Additionally, it has been said that he is one of the best lacrosse players in the world.
2. Brodie Merrill – Best Lacrosse Player
Born in Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, on November 5, 1981, Brodie Merrill plays professional lacrosse in Canada. He currently plays for the San Diego Seals in the National Lacrosse League and the Cannons in the Premier Lacrosse League.
Merrill won the MLL Rookie of the Year award in 2005 as a member of the Baltimore Bayhawks. Playing for the Rochester Rattlers in 2006 and 2007 is what he did in those years. Merrill has won the Major League Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Year award four times during his career.
He became the fourth straight defensive player of the year award winner during the Toronto National’s inaugural season after helping the club win its first MLL Championship. Merrill holds the groundball record for the entire history of the MLL.
During the 2006 World Lacrosse Championships in London, Ontario, he was a Canadian national lacrosse team member. Besides that, he won All-World honors after winning Best Defender at a great tournament.
1. Gary Gait – Top Lacrosse Ninja
Former pro lacrosse player Gary Charles Gait was born on April 5, 1967, and currently serves as the head coach for the Syracuse University men’s lacrosse team. Secondly, his recent appointment as the Interim Commissioner of the United Women’s Lacrosse League came on January 24, 2017.
His professional career included playing in the indoor National Lacrosse League and the outdoor Major League Lacrosse while representing Canada internationally. Several of Gait’s accomplishments have been recognized by the National Lacrosse League and the United States Lacrosse National Hall of Fame. His exceptional career and performance make Gait one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time.
In addition to being a four-time All-American for the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team, he was also an NCAA championship winner between 1988 and 1990. He won two Lieutenant Raymond Enners Awards while at Georgetown, which go to the most outstanding college lacrosse players. Both Syracuse and Gait hold NCAA records until 2008 with their respective career goals and individual goals.
Earning league MVP honors for five straight years, from 1995 to ’99, and winning All-Pro awards each season. With 1,091 points during his indoor career, Gait set a league record at the time, as he led the league in points and goals seven times. From 2001 to 2005, Gait was a member of the MLL for five seasons, winning three titles and co-winning the 2005 MVP award.
We hope you like the list of our greatest lacrosse players of all time. Feel free to tell us in the comment box about this list. We appreciate your feedback.
Greatest Lacrosse Players – 2023 Infographics
FAQs Regarding Greatest Lacrosse Players
Q. Who is the most popular American lacrosse player?
Legendary player and the founder-member of the Lacrosse Premier League, Paul Rabil, is widely considered the greatest American lacrosse player of all time. Besides, American sports legend Jim Thorpe is also among the most popular lacrosse stars, although he played multiple sports during his heydays.
Q. What is the fastest shot in lacrosse?
The fastest shot in lacrosse was executed by legendary player Nick Diegel. He achieved an unmatched speed of 127 miles/hour with his stick. Besides, Zack Dorn also delivered a 116 miles/hour shot in the MLL All-Star game.
Q. What makes a great lacrosse player?
You need unmatched speed, amazing ball control, strategic thinking, and the ability to participate as a team member to become a great lacrosse player. Besides, you also need to be confident while being calm on the field. A great lacrosse player always influences the game and builds momentum for the team.
Q. What is the essential skill in lacrosse?
Cradling is one of the most effective skills a lacrosse player can possess. It is the ability of the player to maintain possession of the ball on the lacrosse stick. Although there are several different types of cradling that are most popular, most professional players rely on a full cradle to ensure better ball handling.
Last Updated On: January 2023