Colorado Springs is the second largest city in Colorado. Not only is it home to attractions like Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods park, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, as well as quite a few celebrities. Today, let’s get a deeper look at 9 famous celebrities who call Colorado Springs, Colorado home.
1. Henry Cejudo
Henry Cejudo is not only an Olympic gold medalist but has also won two UFC divisional titles and is the only athlete to have ever done so. He is one of the most accomplished combat athletes of all time. Cejudo’s successful career seems to be fueled by his determination as well as his rough upbringing.
He was born in the United States to Mexican immigrants who worked hard to make ends meet. This was especially difficult with the constant drug and alcohol abuse practiced by his father. His father was even jailed because he threatened to kill his family. He was deported when Cejudo was 6 years old, leaving him and his 6 siblings to be raised by a single mother.
The first time that Cejudo had his own bed was when he was living in Colorado Springs as a participant in a residency program. Henry followed in the footsteps of his older brother Angel, and the pair both became undefeated 4-time AIA state champions. However, Henry soon outpaced his brother and began to prepare for the Junior World Championships in 2005.
2008 was a pivotal year in Henry Cejudo’s career. He made it onto the U.S. Olympic Wrestling team and won gold, making him the youngest American wrestler to do so. Cejudo continued to fight well but retired from wrestling in 2012 and began to fight in mixed martial arts, signing with the UFC in 2014. He became the Bantamweight champion in 2013 and the flyweight champion in 2014 before his retirement in 2020.
2. Chris Sanders
The director and cartoonist Chris Sanders was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His family was artistic and inspired him to pursue art in high school and beyond. Sanders ended up attending the California Institute of the Arts and participated in their animation program.
After graduation, he went on to work for Marvel Productions and Disney Studios. As an up-and-coming director and animator, Chris Sanders worked on many beloved children’s films such as The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan.
In addition to working as a story artist and head of story, Sanders is responsible for the creation of the beloved Disney film, Lilo and Stitch. Concerning the development of the film, Sanders said:
“I remembered a story from eighteen years before that I had tried to write as a children’s book, but had given up on, because I couldn’t compress it into a short story format. Over a sushi dinner at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort, I pitched that story — a tale of a strange forest creature, shunned by all, and unaware of his own origins. Tom liked it, and when he suggested I relocate the tale of the lonely little monster into the human world, Lilo & Stitch was born.”– Chris Sanders
In 2006, Chris Sanders began working with the filmmaking team at DreamWorks animation. While working at DreamWorks, he directed How to Train your Dragon as well as The Croods. Sanders is not just a talented director and animator but an author as well. He released his first novel titled Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist in 2015. The young adult novel was co-written with his wife Jessica Steele–Sanders.
3. Kelly Bishop
The actress Kelly Bishop was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and originally trained to be a professional ballet dancer. She attended the San Jose Ballet School and moved to New York City when she was 18 years old to start her first job as a dancer at a ballet company at the Radio City Music Hall.
In 1975 she was cast in a Broadway production of a chorus line. For her roles on Broadway, she won a Tony award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress in a Musical and a Drummer Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
In addition to her accomplishments on Broadway, Kelly Bishop has been featured on the big screen. She played the role of Mrs. Houseman in the iconic film Dirty Dancing, featuring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray. She continued to play the role of the mom in many movies such as Private Parts, Wonder Boys, Queens Logic, Miami Rhapsody, and Bluemoon.
However, Kelly Bishop is most well known for her role in the series Gilmore Girls. In Gilmore Girls, she portrays the rich and privileged matriarch Emily Gilmore. Although she enjoyed her time on the show playing Emily Gilmore, she was not a huge fan of her on a personal level. Of her character, Bishop said:
“I would never be Emily‘s friend in real life she’s so opinionated and status quo – definitely not my kind of woman… I have played a couple of nice moms in my career but, in my opinion, playing nice is a complete bore!”– Kelly Bishop
4. David Hale
The former professional ice hockey player David Hale is also a Colorado Springs native and the first professional hockey player to come from the town. He played in the National Hockey League for over 8 years but didn’t score his first goal until his 6th season in his 231st game. Hale started playing ice hockey as a part of his high school team in Colorado Springs before playing for the United States Hockey League on the Sioux City Musketeers.
In the year 2000, Hale was drafted into the NHL by the New Jersey Devils. However, instead of playing with the Devils, he played collegiate hockey for the University of North Dakota for 3 years before making his NHL debut in 2003. During his career, David Hale has played for the New Jersey Devils, the Calgary Flames, the Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Ottawa Senators. He played professional hockey until 2011 when he announced his official retirement from the sport.
5. Leeann Tweeden
Although she’s a Virginia native, the model, broadcaster, and sports commentator Leeann Tweeden found her start in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tweeden was working as a hostess at the Hooter‘s restaurant in Colorado Springs in 1992 when she was discovered and won first place in the Venus International Model Search. She began modeling for Hooters and was a fitness model on the show Fitness Beach. As far as modeling goes, some of Tweeden‘s biggest appearances include the cover of Playboy magazine in 1996 as well as in 2011.
In 2001, she became a sports commentator and started working for Fox Sports Network. She then went on to become a hostess for the television series Poker After Dark. She has worked for a few other radio talk shows and is currently the co-host of a radio show on KABC called Dr. Drew Midday. Leeann Tweeden also performed on USO tours. On one of these tours, she met her husband Chris Doherty. Together, they have 2 children.
6. Vincent Jackson
Vincent Jackson was a professional football player in the NFL. He was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and went to Widefield High School, where he played football and basketball. He was named an All-state Honorable Mention and a First Team All-Conference pick in high school.
After graduation, Jackson attended the University of Northern Colorado, where he had a scholarship to play basketball and football. He became the university’s all-time leader in many aspects of the game including receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. At the same time, he was a starter for their basketball team for two seasons and led the team in scoring.
In 2005, Vincent Jackson was chosen to play for the San Diego Chargers in the NFL draft. His first season didn’t bring him too much success as a result of multiple injuries. However, in 2006, Jackson had a great season, and the next season he was the starting wide receiver. In the next year, he had over 1000 receiving yards. Over the course of his career, Vincent Jackson got over 1000 receiving yards 6 times and was selected to play in the Pro Bowl 3 times.
7. Brandon Carlo
Although Brandon Carlo didn’t follow in the footsteps of his brothers and play American football, he did follow fellow Colorado Springs native David Hale into the National Hockey League. Carlo played in minor ice hockey leagues for 5 years before making it to a professional hockey league. He began playing for the Boston Bruins in 2015 and has done so ever since. He scored his first NHL goal during his first season.
In 2018, Carlo’s season was cut short when he broke his ankle. The next season he came back ready to play and helps the Bruins on their path to the 2019 Stanley Cup finals. Brandon Carlo has also played internationally and won a bronze medal with his team at the IIHF World Championship.
8. Lamarr Houston
Lamarr Houston has always been an impressive athlete. While attending high school in Colorado Springs, Houston lettered in football, basketball, and track. He chose to play football at the University of Texas and completed 133 tackles and 14 sacks as a Longhorn.
In 2010, Lamarr Houston was drafted into the NFL by the Oakland Raiders. In 2011, Houston had a great season and was even able to intercept a pass that lead to a 25 to 20 victory. Although he played for a few other teams during his career, he retired as a Raider in 2020.
9. Tom Hamilton
Tom Hamilton is the bass guitarist of the famous rock band Aerosmith. He first started playing guitar when he was 12 years old but soon switched to Bass. He’s a founding member of the band and has written 10 songs for them. In 2011, he won the Boston Music Award.