Famous People from Florida: Celebrities, Athletes, & More

The Sunshine State is typically celebrated for its unending gorgeous beaches, quirk coastal culture, and exciting theme parks, but there are also tons of famous people from Florida who helped make the state what it is today. Florida is the birthplace and nurturing ground for many of the notable figures and celebrities who have made their marks on the global stage.

Florida, with its unique mixing pot of cultures and highly dynamic environment, has proven to be a cradle for some of the top talent across sectors that include entertainment, sports, literature, and beyond.

From the captivating performances of world-renowned entertainers to groundbreaking achievements by athletes and the thought-provoking works of literary geniuses, Florida’s influence stretches far and wide, and we’re going to explore some of the most famous people who have come from the state.

Celebrate with us, some of these luminaries who, in many ways, continue to shine a spotlight on Florida’s rich cultural landscape.

Musicians and Performers

Jim Morrison

jim morrison florida

The lead vocalist of The Doors, Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, and is remembered for his poetic lyrics and charismatic stage presence.

The Doors were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, cementing their influence on rock music.

Ariana Grande

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From Boca Raton, Grande began her career in Broadway musicals before becoming a pop sensation known for her wide vocal range and hits like “Problem” and “Dangerous Woman”.

Steve Aoki

steve aoki from florida

Steve Aoki, born in Miami, is a trailblazer in the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, renowned for his electrifying performances and innovative production style.

As a Grammy-nominated artist, Aoki’s influence extends beyond music into philanthropy and business.

Ronnie Van Zant

robbie van zant florida

As the lead vocalist of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Zant helped define the Southern rock genre with his powerful performances before his tragic death at 29. He was born in Jacksonville, Florida.

Sam Moore

This soulful singer from Miami gained fame as part of the duo Sam & Dave, known for their hit “Soul Man.”

Moore’s high tenor voice and dynamic performances have earned him a place in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Eva Mendes

Hailing from Miami, Eva Mendes is recognized for her roles in “Hitch,” “2 Fast 2 Furious,” and “Ghost Rider.”

Beyond acting, Mendes has made her mark in the fashion world as a designer and serves as the creative director for the makeup line CIRCA Beauty.

Jake Owen

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Jake Owen is a country music sensation, originally from Winter Haven, who is known for his chart-topping hits and charismatic stage presence.

Owen rose to fame with singles like “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and “Beachin’ and was raised in Vero Beach, Florida. He continues to captivate audiences worldwide.

T-Pain

The Grammy-winning artist from Tallahassee, T-Pain, is credited with popularizing Auto-Tune in modern music.

With over 50 successful singles, his 2007 album “Epiphany” topped the US charts, cementing his place in the music industry.

Debbie Harry

blondie debbie harry florida

Although Debbie Harry, the iconic frontwoman of Blondie, is often associated with the punk scenes of New York and London, she was born in Miami.

Her influence on music and fashion continues to resonate across generations.

Cannonball Adderley

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A jazz saxophonist hailing from Tampa, Adderley became a significant figure in the jazz world, known for his soulful playing and hits like “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”.

XXXTentacion

Known for his emotive and often controversial music, this rapper from Plantation, Florida, gained a significant following before his untimely death at the age of 20.

Sean Kingston

Kingston, a Jamaican-American singer and rapper known for his reggae-infused pop hits like “Beautiful Girls,” was born in Miami.

His music often blends hip-hop, R&B, and reggae, making him a unique figure in the music scene.

Athletes

Brooks Koepka

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Koepka, born in May 1990 in West Palm Beach, Florida, is an American professional golfer renowned for his athleticism and clutch ability. With four major championship victories, including back-to-back U.S. Open titles, Koepka lives in Jupiter and has solidified his status among golf’s elite players.

Deion Sanders

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Sanders is a celebrated figure in both baseball and football, known for his dynamic play in the NFL over 14 seasons with various teams and also for his time as a baseball outfielder.

Remarkably, he played in both a Super Bowl and a World Series.

Antonio Brown

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Before the off-the-field controversies that have tarnished his reputation, Brown had established himself as an elite wide receiver in the NFL.

His talent was evident through multiple Pro Bowl selections and his impressive achievement of leading the league in receiving yards.

Chris Evert

Evert, a former world no. 1 tennis player, dominated the tennis scene from 1979 to 1987, winning 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three doubles, making her one of the greatest female tennis players of all time.

Emmitt Smith

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Smith is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys, and his career in highschool and at the University of Florida set him on the path to football greatness.

Rowdy Gaines

Gaines is a three-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming and a member of both the US Olympic Hall of Fame and the International Swimming Hall of Fame, known for his expertise in freestyle events.

Authors and Literary Figures

Ernest Hemingway

ernest hemingway florida home

Ernest Hemingway, one of the most iconic figures in literature, found inspiration and solace in Key West during the 1930s.

While he wasn’t born in Florida, his experiences in this coastal city influenced some of his most famous works, including “To Have and Have Not,” which is set in the Keys.

Hemingway’s residence there is now a museum and a popular literary landmark.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings captured the essence of rural Florida in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Yearling.”

Her home in Cross Creek, where she penned much of her work and has a state park in her name, is a testament to how the Floridian landscape influenced her storytelling.

Zora Neale Hurston

zora neale hurston florida

Zora Neale Hurston, a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance, moved to Florida when she was three years old.

Her work often delved into the African American experience and Southern life, with her most renowned work, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” being deeply rooted in the places and communities of Florida.

Hurston passed away in Fort Pierce, where her house and gravesite are open for visitors and a library is named in her honor.

Dave Barry

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dave Barry, known for his humorous take on life, has been associated with Miami for a long time.

His writing offers a comedic yet insightful look at life in Florida and beyond.

Karen Russell

Miami-born Karen Russell, whose debut novel “Swamplandia!” was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, is known for blending fantastical elements with deep emotional and psychological insights.

Her eerie and captivating stories often feature Florida’s unique landscapes.

Randy Wayne White

Randy Wayne White is known for his Doc Ford series, set in Florida, where the protagonist is a detective with a deep knowledge of marine biology.

White’s writing vividly captures Florida’s geography and his love for the sea.

John D. MacDonald

John D. MacDonald, particularly known for his Travis McGee series set in Fort Lauderdale, has a body of work that is deeply tied to Florida, with keen observations of its culture and society.

Scientists and Other Innovators

Norma A. Alcantar

A professor at the University of South Florida, Alcantar has pioneered the use of plant-based molecules for water decontamination, offering solutions for remote regions lacking access to clean water and areas affected by disasters.

Her work also extends to developing biomedical applications to combat diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Mark Dean

An alumnus of Florida Atlantic University, Dean holds three of the nine original patents for the IBM PC and led the development of the one-gigahertz processor chip.

He is in the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame and is credited as one of the inventors of the ISA bus, which allowed for the connection of peripheral devices to computers, revolutionizing computing.

David M. Kotick

Working with the Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando and an alumnus of the University of Central Florida, Kotick’s integration of digital communications in training environments has enhanced simulated training for the U.S. military, contributing to overall readiness.

Dean Kamen

Known for inventing the Segway, Kamen is a part-time Florida resident who holds over 440 U.S. patents and is celebrated for his wide-ranging inventions, including several medical devices.

His educational initiatives through FIRST have reached over a million students, fostering innovation among the next generation.

Susann Keohane

An IBM global research leader and University of Florida alumna, Keohane holds patents in autonomous vehicles and has made significant advances in AI, machine learning, and IoT, improving technology for people with disabilities and the aging population.

Rajiv K. Singh

A vice president at Entegris and professor emeritus at the University of Florida, Singh is among the developers of pulsed laser deposition and invented chemical mechanical polishing for hard electronic materials, impacting the manufacturing of smartphones and advanced electronics.

Political Figures

Jeb Bush

jeb bush florida

The Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, Bush moved to the state in 1980 and focused on education reform, environmental conservation, and implementing tax cuts.

Marco Rubio

A U.S. Senator from Florida, Rubio has been a prominent figure in national politics, known for his involvement in immigration reform and foreign policy.

He was also a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2016 U.S. presidential election for a brief time.

Katherine Harris

Played a notable role as Florida’s Secretary of State during the 2000 presidential election recount.

Harris’s decisions during the recount process brought her national attention.

Wrapping Up

The wildly diverse array of talents that have come from Florida showcases the state’s cultural and intellectual heritage.

Floridians have made substantial contributions across nearly all fields of modern science and art, which continue to influence not only their home state but the nation and the world at large.

Justin Stewart

Justin Stewart

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