There have been a lot of famous people who have graduated from BYU. Today, we are going to rank the 10 best.
The criteria is simple: I am the judge and jury. I determine impact based on my own thoughts. That eliminates any of the super old people who made a big impact on life in 1920. I'm sure they were great people, but I am the judge and jury and they don't make the cut in the First Circuit Court of My Brain.
There is no appeal process. You can have your opinions, but they are wrong and meaningless. This is the only list that matters. (Also, we're keeping LDS Church leadership off the list - while famous and certainly impactful in the world, it feels like they have an unfair advantage on a list like this so they are being excluded. If you don't like that, you can take it up with the List Appeals Committee which is me.)
Philo Farnsworth - The man invented the TV. Imagine life without TV. Every time a TV turns on, a little flicker of BYU greatness shines into the home of wherever that TV is. That's incredible. Philo is a legend.
Elizabeth Smart - What an incredible journey she has taken since her horrific kidnapping. She has turned one of the most unthinkable tragedies into a platform that is helping thousands - even millions - of women across the world. That's legendary stuff.
Jimmer Fredette - Maybe if he would have been a better NBA player, he would have made this list. The best BYU basketball player in the history of BYU basketball is now the guy who is known as that one dude who used to be a great basketball player but now he's in China. Tough sell for the top 10.
LaVell Edwards - Legendary, no doubt. What he did FOR BYU is #1. But, his undergrad came from Utah State. Sorry, LaVell. That prohibits you from making this list.
Jim McMahon - It just felt too easy to put him on the list. He probably should be here but it's too late now. The definitive list that can't be argued is already done.
Aaron Eckhart - Heath Ledger's performance of Joker and his subsequent death kind of stole the spotlight from how damn good Eckhart was as Harvey Dent. And he is a BYU grad. Two-Face is a BYU grad. Feels right.
10. Orson Scott Card
I was on my mission in Madagascar when some dude who was a radio DJ decided he wanted to be the president and launched a coup de tas. (And it worked, but that's another story for another day.) The people who didn't like the radio DJ fought against the people who did like him and there were riots and fights and all kinds of things everywhere. So, missionaries got to spend a lot of time locked in their houses for that month or two.
I found a copy of Ender's Game in the house I was locked in. And (gasp!) I read it. And I loved it. And then when I learned that author Orson Scott Card was a BYU graduate, I felt like it was a completely authorized mission book so I kept reading it again and again and again. I have chosen to ignore Harrison Ford's crappy Ender's Game movie and just remember the book. It's incredible, and I'm not even a Sci-Fi guy.
Congrats, Orson. Your beautiful mind beats out Stephanie Meyer as the best fictional author to ever come from BYU. And you beat out all those rah-rah motivational books too.
9. Mitt Romney
Romney's politics are whatever. I don't care if you like him or you hate him. While he's a famous politician, that's not why he's on this list.
No, he's on this list for famously mocking Russell Westbrook in the NBA Playoffs. 1-2-3-4. You know the one.
That's the stuff of legends. There aren't many white people in Utah who could do that in such a weird, robotic way that DOESN'T embarrass the entire state. When Romney did it, we all thought, "Hell yeah, Mitt. Talk that shit!"
8. Danny Ainge
The man who was a professional everything, who regularly fought with guys like Michael Jordan and Isaiah Thomas, and who played baseball in Canada. The man who collected more draft picks that ultimately turned out to be nobody noteworthy. The man who was fired by Boston and then hired by the Jazz and set the collective Ute fanbase into a tailspin because BYU GUYS CAN'T BE GOOD AT ANYTHING AARHGAHFHA!
You are the man, Danny Ainge. And you're our man.
7. Ryan Smith
Just keep those Qualtrics checks coming into all the big time recruits and you'll stay on this list, amirite?
6. Mark Rober
How cool is it that one of the best YouTube sensations is a BYU nerdy who is SO nerdy that he regularly displays a Studio C sticker on his videos? It's way cool! That's how cool!
Rober can make friends with squirrels, sends fart juice into the homes of porch pirates stealing packages, and builds giant ass nerf guns to shoot kids with. Rober is incredible and he should be celebrated as a BYU guy more than he is.
I mean, most of you know who Mike Weir is but you don't know Mark Rober. That's a travesty.
5. Lindsey Stirling
Yellowcard made the violin cool when they threw it in with a bunch of punk rock music. Stirling made it WAY cooler when she turned it into a spectacle for all to see without punk rock.
You need to invest more of your time into Stirling's works. She has created her own music industry. There wasn't a market for 'dope violin players' until she created one. And now she's the dopest.
4. Ken Jennings
Jeopardy is cool. Jennings is Mr. Jeopardy. Now he hosts Jeopardy with that one girl from Big Bang Theory. And he's kind of a funny dude on Twitter.
3. Steve Young
Keep repping the Y on ESPN, Steve. The rest of the sports world wants to pretend that BYU isn't great. But BYU is great. And you are great. And you keep reminding everyone that BYU is great.
Also Steve is a lawyer. And he owns of a bunch of other businesses. And he had like 8442 concussions and still doesn't show signs of CTE. He's beating CTE the same way he beat Troy Aikman and Brett Favre all the time.
We are Forever Young at BYU. (Also the name of his really successful non-profit.)
2. Jon Heder
I am the product of two dairy farmers from Lewiston, UT. The film Napoleon Dynamite was filmed, in part, in Lewiston, UT. Because of that reason, Heder catapults to the top of this list.
- Andy Reid
Is there anyone better than Andy Reid? He's winning Super Bowls, he has a mustache, his team is full of the biggest names in the NFL and they all love him, and he still wears Tommy Bahama shirts every time he is in front of a camera.
Reid is the best that BYU has to offer. If I could pick one person to show the world that this is what BYU is, what BYU represents, and the potential that BYU has, I would pick Andy Reid.