Impact 10:No. 10 Alex Morgan
Maybe the most impressive thing about Alex Morgan's career is that, by many definitions, it is just beginning.
Still getting used to her position as soccer role model, pop culture celebrity and social media superstar, Morgan was nonetheless firmly established as all three in 2013 while maintaining a level on the field as one of the top female players in the world.
She was an international star in her teens. She was named U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year in 2012 after ranking among the greatest goal scorers in the game that year and leading the United States to the gold medal at the London Olympics.
Morgan was a national pitchwoman, appearing in body paint in Sports Illustrated's 2012 swimsuit issue, and on national morning and late-night talk shows. She rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and walked the runway at New York's Fashion Week.
But that was all before this year.
In 2013, Morgan helped lead Portland Thorns FC to the inaugural National Women's Soccer League championship title. She tied for top scoring honors at the Algarve Cup in March, helping the U.S. advance to the final with her game-tying goal against Sweden, then scoring two more against Germany to propel the Americans to the title.
Her book, "Saving the Team," the first in a series of children's books about four soccer players called "The Kicks," debuted at No. 7 on The New York Times best-seller list (children's middle grade) in May.
And that was all before she eclipsed 1.2 million followers on Twitter; before appearing in "The 99ers," part of espnW's and ESPN Films' documentary series Nine for IX, or reproducing Katy Perry's "One of the Boys" album cover in ESPN The Magazine's Music Issue.
It was before Morgan was unofficially acknowledged as the best Miley Cyrus next to Miley Cyrus, when she dressed up as the singer for Halloween.
It was also before, according to Sports Illustrated, Morgan's annual income soared beyond the $1 million mark and, according to one Coca-Cola spokesman, placed her among such company megastar endorsers as LeBron James and Jennifer Aniston.
And yet, Morgan told espnW in October, she would still pick something most would consider mundane over all of that.
"I'd choose soccer practice over anything -- writing a book, attending a photo shoot -- because everything on the field is instinctual," Morgan said. "I just love the game of soccer."
It at least partly explains why Morgan, who graduated from Cal with a degree in political economy in industrialized societies, has found not just soccer success, but also the wide appeal she now enjoys. And, at age 24, she says she is willing to embrace it, whether she is completely ready for it or not.
"I know that there is a large responsibility on my shoulders in terms of being a good role model," Morgan told the Oregonian in July. "Knowing that the way Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach inspired me, I now need to be that inspiration for some of the young girls.
"A little bit has come fast, but I've just got to deal with that. When you are asked to play a certain role on a team or in a league, you want to do it for the development of the women's game here. So sometimes you do have to step up, even if you're not exactly feeling like you're ready to play that role yet. You need to step up when you're asked."
Thorns owner Merritt Paulson said Morgan has done just that, and her impact continues to grow as a result.
"Alex is the consummate ambassador for not only women's soccer, but women's athletics," Paulson told espnW via email. "Her excellence on the field is complemented by her willingness to be a humble and accessible leader and role model in the community."