Greatest Lacrosse Players of All Time: 7 Legends and Stars And…

As a fan, you might have always wondered who the greatest lacrosse players of all time are. Indeed, the history of lacrosse is filled with legendary names that have graced the field with their extraordinary talent, athleticism, and skill. Throughout the years, these players have not only brought success to their teams, but also shaped how the game is played, approached, and admired.

In this article, we delve into the careers and accomplishments of the most renowned lacrosse players who have left an indelible mark on the sport. You will learn about the likes of Jim Brown, widely considered one of the greatest lacrosse players ever; the prolific Gait brothers, Gary and Paul, who revolutionized the game with their iconic Air Gait move; and the younger talent such as Lyle Thompson and Rob Pannell, who continue to push the limits of what can be achieved on the field.

History of Lacrosse

Lacrosse is a sport with a rich history, originating from the Native American tribes in what is now known as Canada and the United States. The game, initially called “stickball,” brought communities together, and it was played for various reasons including recreation, religious ceremonies, and preparation for war.

In the early 1800s, the sport was introduced to European settlers by the Indigenous people. Your knowledge of the game expanded during this time as modifications were made to the rules and equipment. It wasn’t until the 19th century when lacrosse gained popularity and began to spread to other countries.

In 1867, the first organized lacrosse club, Montreal Lacrosse Club, was established. Since then, the sport continued to grow, and the first governing body, the National Lacrosse Association, was formed in 1879. Throughout the years, the rules and styles of play have evolved, but the core essence of the game remains intact.

Today, lacrosse is played all over the world at various levels, from youth leagues to professional organizations. You may already be familiar with many incredible athletes who have made a mark in this sport. Top names in the history of lacrosse include Jim Brown, Gary Gait, and Michael Powell, who have showcased extraordinary skills and brought prestige to the game.

As a fan or player of lacrosse, immersing yourself in the history of the sport allows you to appreciate its roots and the progress it has made throughout the years.

Greatest Lacrosse Players of All Time

When discussing the greatest lacrosse players of all time, certain names stand out above the rest. These legends of the sport have left a lasting impact, and the legacy they’ve built continues to inspire the next generation of players.

Jim Brown is widely considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. Beginning his professional career at Manhasset High School in New York, he played for Syracuse University from 1955-57. During his time there, he led the team to an undefeated season and was awarded the prestigious Tewaaraton Legend Award in 2011.

Another notable player is Michael Powell, who’s recognized as one of the best lacrosse players of this century. His exceptional skill and dedication earned him a well-deserved place among the top athletes in the sport.

Dave Pietramala also holds a distinguished place in the history of lacrosse. When Johns Hopkins University needed someone special to guide their team, they chose Pietramala, resulting in an unforgettable era for the sport.

In 1966, Lewis received the Sword for Men award, and is remembered as one of the best lacrosse players of all time, known for his remarkable career achievements. As a member of the legendary Midshipmen lacrosse team, he played a significant role in earning them 22 consecutive victories in 1965.

To summarize, these players and many others have helped shape the rich tradition of lacrosse. Each one contributed their unique talents and skills, leaving a lasting impression on the sport and earning their place among the greatest lacrosse players of all time.

Remember to draw inspiration from these legends when you’re working on your own lacrosse skills, and who knows, your name might join this prestigious list someday!

Jim Brown

Jim Brown Lacrosse
Source: Wikipedia

As you explore the history of lacrosse, one name that stands out as the greatest player to ever live is Jim Brown. Brown began his storied lacrosse career at Manhasset High School in New York, where he earned All-Star honors for three consecutive years. After high school, he continued to excel at Syracuse University, lettering in four sports and even being voted the school’s Athlete of the Year in 1956-57.

Jim Brown’s dominance in college led to rule changes in the game. During his senior year, he successfully led his team to a 10-0 record. Not only was he a two-time All-American midfielder in lacrosse, but he is often considered the greatest college athlete of all time.

While Jim Brown may be renowned as one of the greatest football players of all time, it’s important to note that he truly loved lacrosse. He once famously said he’d “rather play lacrosse six days a week.” Despite his professional career ultimately focusing on football, Brown’s impact on the sport of lacrosse is undeniable.

Throughout his career, Jim Brown not only showcased his extraordinary talents in lacrosse but also helped shape the sport and leave a lasting impact. His contributions to both football and lacrosse history demonstrate the powerful breadth of his athletic abilities and passion for sports.

Gary Gait

Gary Gait Lacrosse
Source: Wikipedia

As a lacrosse enthusiast, you have undoubtedly come across the name Gary Gait. Widely considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, Gait’s spectacular career speaks for itself. Born in 1963, he grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, and played junior lacrosse in Vancouver before attending Syracuse University on a lacrosse scholarship.

During his time at Syracuse University, Gait scored 93 goals and recorded 98 assists over four seasons, leading the team to three national championships in 1988, 1989, and 1990. His exceptional performance earned him first team All-America honors three times and USILA player of the year honors twice.

In addition to his impressive collegiate accolades, Gait also holds numerous NCAA records, such as goals scored in a tournament game, single tournament, and career tournaments. His accomplishments don’t stop there. Throughout his professional career, Gait played in the National Lacrosse League (NLL), where he became the second all-time leading goal scorer with 635 goals. Furthermore, he was named to the NLL All-Pro First Team 14 times and the NLL All-Pro Second Team once.

While Gait’s stats are remarkable, his impact on the game transcends numbers. As a pioneer in the sport, he introduced innovative moves and strategies that have since become staples in the game. His unique playing style and dedication to the sport have made him an invaluable role model to the lacrosse community.

In conclusion, it’s evident that Gary Gait holds an exceptional place in lacrosse history. With his incredible achievements and lasting legacy, future generations of lacrosse players will continue to look up to him as they strive for greatness on the field.

Paul Rabil

Paul Rabil Interview
Source: Wikipedia

Paul Rabil, born on December 14, 1985, is widely regarded as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. During his exceptional career, he was an offensive powerhouse, earning two Major League Lacrosse (MLL) MVP titles and regularly showcasing his excellent skills on the field.

As you learn more about Paul Rabil and his achievements, consider his humble beginnings in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he was born to Allan and Jean Anne Rabil. Growing up, he displayed a passion for the sport, ultimately paving the way for his impressive professional career.

Some notable moments from Paul Rabil’s time in lacrosse include:

  • Playing for the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the MLL, Rabil led his team to multiple conquests and established himself as a valuable asset.
  • Rabil also excelled in professional lacrosse leagues such as National Lacrosse League (NLL) and Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), further solidifying his dominance in the sport.
  • His overall achievements and career progress earned him a spot alongside other greats, such as Jim Brown, Gary Gait, and Mikey Powell.

It’s essential to acknowledge Rabil’s impact on the sport of lacrosse, as he tirelessly worked to elevate the game to new heights. As you admire his career, remember the perseverance and determination it took for him to become one of the top-ranked lacrosse players of all time and top paid players.

Brooks Sweet

Brooks Sweet Lacrosse
Source: USALacrosse

Brooks Sweet is a legendary lacrosse player who has left an indelible mark on the sport. Born and raised in Ithaca, New York, he began his impressive career at Ithaca High School before moving on to shine at the collegiate level. Taking his talents to SUNY Farmingdale, Sweet was a junior college All-American in both 1976 and 1977. His prowess on the field led Farmingdale to a JUCO national championship in 1977.

Continuing his journey into the world of lacrosse, Sweet transferred to the University of Massachusetts in 1978. There, he earned honorable mention All-America status in his first year, followed by first-team All-America honors in 1979. These accolades showcase his exceptional skills and dedication to the sport.

In 1982, Sweet reached even greater heights by being selected to represent Team USA. His talent and hard work paid off when he was inducted into the 2007 class of the University of Massachusetts Athletics Hall of Fame. This honor solidified his place among the greatest in the history of lacrosse.

The apex of his achievements came in 2017 when Brooks Sweet was inducted into the prestigious National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Selected alongside eight other distinguished individuals, Sweet gained recognition for his significant impact on the sport. The ceremony, held on September 23, 2017, in Hunt Valley, Maryland, celebrated not only his accomplishments but also his immense contribution to lacrosse.

Throughout his career, Brooks Sweet consistently demonstrated exceptional skill, unwavering determination, and an undeniable passion for lacrosse. As you reflect on his journey, it’s clear that Sweet truly earned his place among the greatest lacrosse players of all time.

John Grant Jr.

John Grant Jr. Lacrosse
Source: PLL

John Grant Jr., born on November 7, 1974, in Peterborough, Ontario, is widely recognized as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. Throughout his extensive career, Grant has showcased his unstoppable force and exceptional skill set, making him an invaluable asset to any team he played on.

You will find John Grant Jr.’s name listed as a Hall of Fame professional lacrosse player. He has had remarkable success while playing for Major League Lacrosse (MLL), the National Lacrosse League (NLL), and Team Canada. During his 17 seasons in the MLL, he featured in 171 games and scored a total of 643 points. Grant was a four-time All-Star in both the NLL and MLL and received numerous awards and accolades, including:

  • Rookie of the Year in 1999
  • Offensive Player of the Year
  • 1999 Jack Turnbull Award winner
  • 1999 USILA National Collegiate Player of the Year

His talents have not been limited to just field lacrosse. Grant Jr. has been praised as one of the top players to ever compete in the indoor lacrosse league. He has won six NLL Championships with three different teams and solidified his place in lacrosse history through his outstanding performances.

To put it succinctly, John Grant Jr.’s ability to adapt and excel in both field and indoor lacrosse highlights his extraordinary skills. As a prolific goal scorer, a versatile player, and a consummate professional, he has undoubtedly earned his place among the all-time greats in the world of lacrosse.

Mike Powell


As you learn about the greatest lacrosse players of all time, you’re sure to come across Mike Powell. Born on October 29, 1982, Powell is a former American professional lacrosse player highly regarded for his diverse set of skills. He attended Syracuse University, where he was the first freshman in the University’s history to be named a First Team All-American.

During his time at Syracuse, Powell earned the title of four-time First Team All-American. He went on to play professional lacrosse for the Baltimore Bayhawks and Boston Cannons. Internationally, he represented the United States team in the 2002 and 2006 World Lacrosse Championships, showcasing his talents on a global stage.

Powell’s accomplishments include winning the Jack Turnbull Award four times, an award given to the top attackman in Division I lacrosse. This achievement solidified his status as one of the best lacrosse players of the 21st century. His impressive career points record further demonstrates his impact on the sport, solidifying him as a true lacrosse legend.

When studying the greatest lacrosse players of all time, it’s important to appreciate exceptional talents like Mike Powell and the exciting contributions he brought to the sport. His storied career serves as an inspiration to aspiring players who seek to reach the same level of skill and success that he enjoyed during his time on the field.

Tom Marechek

Tom Marechek is a renowned lacrosse player with an incredibly decorated career. As a former player at Syracuse University, Marechek teamed up with Paul and Gary Gait to form an outstanding college lacrosse squad. Together, they won national championship titles in 1989 and 1990, making them one of the great college lacrosse teams in history.

During his time at Syracuse, Marechek achieved remarkable personal records. With 182 goals, he is the fifth leading college goal scorer in lacrosse. Moreover, Marechek was a four-time All-American, a three-time first-team All-American pick, and had 76 assists and 258 points. His exceptional skill and achievements make him a prominent figure in the sport.

In his post-college career, Marechek continued to shine as a lacrosse player. He played for the Philadelphia Wings in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) for 12 years. As a six-time US Cross-Laminated Timber Association (USCLA) All-Star, he demonstrated his prowess again and again on the professional stage.

Marechek’s legacy even extends to his time as a Junior A lacrosse player. Playing for the Victoria-Esquimalt Legion, he achieved 195 goals, 261 assists, and 456 points in 84 games, securing a Minto Cup win in 1988. As a result, his early career also contributed to his status as one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time.

Position Based Greats


As a goalkeeper, your role is crucial in maintaining the defensive edge of your team. One of the best goalkeepers in lacrosse history is Oren Lyons. Born in 1930, Lyons is a Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan who made a name for himself playing at Syracuse University. His incredible reflexes and focus established him as a force to be reckoned with between the pipes.


Defenders in lacrosse excel in shutting down their opponents, ensuring that the opposing team’s attackers can’t get a clear shot on goal. Dave Pietramala stands strong as a highly accomplished defender in the history of the sport. Pietramala played for Johns Hopkins, known for their prestigious lacrosse program, where he built his reputation as an iron wall on the field.


Midfielders bridge the gap between offense and defense, requiring exceptional stamina and agility. One of the top midfielders of all time is Kyle Harrison. A seven-time MLL and two-time PLL All-Star, Harrison proved his versatility and skill at both ends of the field, making him an incredibly valuable asset to his team.


In lacrosse, the attackers are responsible for putting points on the board. Regarded as one of the best attackers of the 21st century, Michael Powell (also known as Mikey Powell) displayed his extraordinary talent by weaving through defenses and scoring jaw-dropping goals. Additionally, the legendary Jim Brown played as an attacker, earning him a place among the all-time greats. Brown’s incredible talent during his time at Syracuse University led him to be awarded the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse, the Tewaaraton Legend Award, in 2011.

Influence on the Sport

Throughout the history of lacrosse, various players have significantly impacted the sport with their skill, dedication, and perseverance. Jim Brown is undoubtedly one such influential figure, having contributed to the growth and popularity of lacrosse. As a player at Syracuse University, he demonstrated his extraordinary capabilities, leading his team to an undefeated season. Later, he received the prestigious Tewaaraton Legend Award in 2011.

As a female lacrosse player, Izzy Scane has made remarkable strides within the sport. Her prowess has been showcased on the international stage through her role in the U.S. U-19 team’s gold-medal performance at the Canada Olympics. Scane’s outstanding achievements have inspired young women worldwide to embrace lacrosse passionately.

Another notable lacrosse athlete, Gary Gait, helped elevate the sport’s recognition in the United States during the 1990s. Gait’s incredible playing abilities and unwavering commitment to lacrosse played a significant role in establishing the sport’s popularity in the region.

Oren Lyons, a Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, is also considered one of the greatest lacrosse players in history. His participation in Syracuse University as a scholarship athlete demonstrates his immense talent and has had an impact on the sport’s ongoing growth.

Each of these players has made an indelible mark on the world of lacrosse. Their contributions will forever be remembered, and they have inspired future generations to strive for greatness within the sport.


Jim Brown is widely considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. During his time at Syracuse University, Brown led the team to a perfect undefeated season and was awarded the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse, the Tewaaraton Legend Award, in 2011.

Gary Gait hails from Canada and stands tall as one of the greatest lacrosse players in history. His exceptional skills, remarkable achievements, and unrivaled impact on the game have solidified his legendary status.

As for Dave Pietramala, he was selected by Johns Hopkins University’s President and Director of Athletics, proving that they knew they were giving the team the right leadership.

Michael Powell, also known as Mikey Powell, is regarded as one of the best lacrosse players of this century. His impressive performance as a lacrosse player has secured his place in the annals of the sport’s history.

At the age of 29, Matt Poskay became the youngest inductee into the New Jersey Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Among his achievements, we can count National Champion twice, MLL Offensive Player of the Year, and MLL Player of the Year, clearly showcasing his immense talent and dedication.

In terms of career statistics, Shawn Williams recently confirmed his retirement, leaving behind a legacy as one of the all-time greats. He is in the top 10 for all-time NLL games played (257), goals (444), assists (708), and points (1,152). As one of only seven players to top the 1,000-point plateau, Williams will no doubt be a first-ballot NLL Hall of Famer next year.


When discussing the greatest lacrosse players of all time, it’s important to consider their statistics. Jim Brown, known as one of the legendary lacrosse players, had an outstanding career throughout high school and college. Playing for Syracuse University from 1955-57, he led the team to an undefeated season and received the Tewaaraton Legend Award in 2011.

Another player worth mentioning is Gary Gait, who holds various career records in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and Major League Lacrosse (MLL). Some of his impressive records include:

  • Most goals in a season (61)
  • Most goals in a game (9)
  • Most points in a season (71)

John Grant Jr. has also made a significant impact on the lacrosse world with his exceptional skills and performance on the field. As a prolific scorer, he has accumulated numerous awards and holds several records, such as:

  • NLL all-time leading scorer
  • MLL all-time leader in points, goals, and assists

It’s important to examine the career leaders in pro lacrosse when discussing the greatest players. The Premier Lacrosse League showcases some of these all-time career leaders, which can further inform your understanding of the players’ accomplishments.

In the women’s game, Jen Adams stands out for her versatility and impact as a player. Her career statistics demonstrate her remarkable skills in contributing to her team’s offense in a well-rounded manner.

In summary, assessing the statistics of the greatest lacrosse players provides valuable insights into their performance and contributions to the sport, helping you appreciate their talents and achievements.


As you explore the greatest lacrosse players of all time, it’s impossible to ignore the immense legacy and impact that these athletes have left on the sport. The legendary player Jim Brown is widely considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, with an exceptional professional career beginning at Manhasset High School in New York and continuing on at Syracuse University from 1955-57. During his time at Syracuse, Brown led the team to an unbeaten season and was awarded the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse, the Tewaaraton Legend Award, in 2011.

Another iconic athlete in the lacrosse world is Gary Lewis, who left an indelible mark on the sport with his prolific career at the United States Naval Academy from 1964 to 1966. An instrumental part of the Midshipmen’s success, Lewis led the team to 22 consecutive victories in 1965, winning their fourth straight national championship game. He was honored with the Sword for Men award in 1966, further solidifying his status as one of the best lacrosse players ever.

In addition to Brown and Lewis, Oren Lyons is also considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time. Born in 1930, Lyons is a Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan and attended Syracuse University on an athletic scholarship in lacrosse. Furthermore, Greg “Beast” Cattrano left a lasting impact on the sport throughout his athletic career.

These remarkable players have undoubtedly set a high standard for future lacrosse athletes to aspire to. Their dedication, skill, and perseverance serve as a reminder that with hard work and determination, greatness can be achieved in any sport. As you continue to immerse yourself in the dynamic world of lacrosse, don’t forget to appreciate the immense impact these pioneers have made on the sport today.


As you’ve explored the world of lacrosse, you’ve seen the impact these legendary players have had on the sport. Their skill, tenacity, and passion for the game have set a high standard for future generations.

Players like Jim Brown, who excelled in both football and lacrosse, dazzled with his athleticism and achievements. Brown’s Syracuse University career culminated with the prestigious Tewaaraton Legend Award in 2011.

Oren Lyons, another Syracuse University star, stood out as a gifted player and a Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan. His reputation for leadership extended both on and off the lacrosse field.

The United States Naval Academy saw Jimmy Lewis dominate for three years, leading his team to national titles and perfect seasons. Lewis’s naval career was just as impressive, balancing his talents between service and sport.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of lacrosse’s humble beginnings, in which hundreds of players would partake in the indigenous version of the sport. The great players of today stand on the shoulders of those who came before them, honoring a centuries-old tradition.

In this journey through lacrosse history, you have gained a deeper appreciation for these exceptional athletes who have left their mark on the sport. As you continue to engage with lacrosse, remember the immense dedication and skill these players demonstrated and consider how their inspiring stories can motivate your own passion for the game.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the top male lacrosse players in history?

Some of the top male lacrosse players in history include Jim Brown, who played for Syracuse University and is considered one of the greatest of all time, Michael Powell, who is recognized as one of the best players in this century, Dave Pietramala, and Oren Lyons, a Native American Faithkeeper and a standout Syracuse University player.

Who are the top female lacrosse players in history?

Among the top female lacrosse players in history is Izzy Scane, who significantly contributed to the sport at both team and individual levels. She played a vital role in the U.S. U-19 team’s gold-medal performance at the Canada Olympics, showcasing her talent on the international stage.

Which college lacrosse players are considered the greatest?

Some notable college lacrosse players considered the greatest include Jim Brown and Oren Lyons, both having played for Syracuse University, as well as Dave Pietramala from Johns Hopkins University. Michael Powell, who played for Syracuse University, is also considered one of the best lacrosse players of the century.

What notable achievements do the greatest lacrosse players hold?

The greatest lacrosse players hold several notable achievements in their careers, such as leading their teams to numerous victories. For example, Jim Brown led Syracuse to an undefeated season and received the Tewaaraton Legend Award in 2011. Izzy Scane helped the U.S. U-19 team secure a gold medal in the Canada Olympics and established herself as one of the most celebrated female players.

How did Jim Brown’s lacrosse career impact the sport?

Jim Brown’s lacrosse career had a significant impact on the sport. As one of the greatest players of all time, his success on the field led to increased recognition for lacrosse. His skill, athleticism, and determination inspired future generations of players while highlighting the potential of lacrosse as a premier sport.

Who are the highest-ranked PLL players of all time?

Currently, there is limited information available on the highest-ranked Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) players of all time. As the league was founded in 2019, the players’ careers are still unfolding, and it might not be accura

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