For people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity can interfere with how they function at work, in school, or in social settings. If you live with ADHD, you’re not alone: It’s estimated that about 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD. Included in this number are many accomplished athletes, actors, creatives, leaders, and entrepreneurs who have been open about their experiences living with ADHD, too.
There are various treatments and strategies available that can help those with ADHD manage their symptoms and improve daily functioning. As the list below demonstrates, a diagnosis of ADHD doesn’t have to hold you back from living a fruitful, enjoyable life. First, let’s take a brief look at what ADHD is and what its most common symptoms include.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD is classified as a neurological disorder that can present in one of three ways: primarily with symptoms of inattention, primarily with symptoms of hyperactivity, or with a combination of both. In adults, symptoms of inattention can include disorganization, trouble with time management, trouble multitasking, and difficulty following through on tasks. Symptoms of hyperactivity can include restlessness, impulsiveness, trouble managing stress, and low frustration tolerance. These symptoms must frequently interfere with daily life and functioning and be present for six months or more in order for a diagnosis of ADHD to be considered.
Celebrities With ADHD
Read on for a list of famous athletes, musicians, actors, creatives, television personalities, business leaders, politicians, and entrepreneurs with ADHD.
1. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, and he said that there were many teachers along the way who doubted his ability to succeed. By the age of 10, however, he was already ranked nationally in his age group for swimming. Today, he is the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, having won 28 Olympic medals in total—23 of them gold. Phelps says that although his ADHD has been a challenge at times, it has made him the person he is now.
2. Simone Biles
Simone Biles has spoken out against the stigma of ADHD, saying that she has this condition and has taken medication for it since she was a child. Biles has won seven Olympic medals in gymnastics, and in 2022, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
3. Terry Bradshaw
Terry Bradshaw is a former football star and Super Bowl champion who is now a TV sports commentator. Bradshaw was diagnosed with ADHD later in life, and he has been open about the challenges he experienced in school due to undiagnosed ADHD and how he poured his energy into football instead.
4. Karina Smirnoff
An accomplished professional dancer, Karina Smirnoff is a five-time US National Champion and is well-known for her work on Dancing with the Stars. When she was growing up, her parents enrolled her in a variety of activities to serve as outlets for her hyperactivity. As an adult, she said that she follows an ADHD treatment plan that includes medication and organizational strategies to help her manage her symptoms.
5. Pete Rose
Pete Rose is a former professional baseball player and manager. In his autobiography, he opened up about his mental health challenges throughout his life. Often considered a troublemaker as a child, he later received a diagnosis of ADHD as an adult.
6. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, and he is another athlete with ADHD. He won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, and he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
7. Shane Victorino
Shane Victorino is a former professional baseball player who played for the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies, the San Diego Padres, and more. He was first diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and began treatment in grade school, and he found that sports were an important outlet for him.
8. Scott Eyre
Scott Eyre is a former baseball pitcher who played for teams such as the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, and the Toronto Blue Jays. He opened up about his ADHD diagnosis in 2001.
9. Lily Allen
English singer-songwriter and actor Lily Allen recently announced that she was diagnosed with adult ADHD. Though diagnosed later in life, she said that she was not surprised by the diagnosis.
10. Adam Levine
Adam Levine is a musician well-known for being the lead vocalist for the popular group Maroon 5 and a former coach on the TV show The Voice. Levine was first diagnosed with ADHD at a young age and had difficulty focusing in school, he said that he still experiences symptoms on a regular basis.
11. Solange Knowles
Solange Knowles is a singer, songwriter, and artist. Her music has been met with much critical acclaim, including a Grammy for Best R&B Performance. Knowles reports that she initially did not believe she had ADHD after receiving her first diagnosis until a second doctor confirmed it.
Will.i.am is a rapper, singer, record producer, and seven-time Grammy Award winner. He said that working on music helps him manage his ADHD symptoms and keep his mind focused.
13. Loyle Carner
Loyle Carner is a British singer and recording artist who has been open about his experiences growing up with ADHD, including how cooking has been a positive outlet for him.
14. Mel B
Perhaps best known as one of the Spice Girls, Mel B is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and television personality. She has opened up about having ADHD as well as dyslexia and dyspraxia.
Actors, TV Personalities, And Creatives
15. Zooey Deschanel
Many people may know actor Zooey Deschanel from the TV show New Girl. She’s also appeared in movies and is a singer as well. Deschanel has been open about her ADHD diagnosis.
16. Michelle Rodriguez
Michelle Rodriguez is an actor best known for shows such as Lost and movies such as the Fast & Furious franchise. She first announced publicly about her experience with ADHD in a 2006 interview.
17. Christopher Knight
Christopher Knight played Peter Brady on the long-running show, The Brady Bunch. Looking back, he recalls having difficulty focusing and speaking slowly enough due to his ADHD. He received his diagnosis as an adult.
18. Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver is a chef, author, and television personality. He has been open about having ADHD as well as dyslexia, and he has given some of the unique strategies he’s used to help him focus at work.
19. Lisa Ling
Lisa Ling, a journalist and television personality, was diagnosed with ADHD at age 40 when she worked on an episode about ADHD for her show, Our America With Lisa Ling.
20. Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum is a well-known actor and model who has been open about his experiences living with both ADHD and dyslexia.
21. Bex Taylor-Klaus
Actor Bex Taylor-Klaus has spoken out about their experience living with ADHD, even offering encouragement to others with the condition and says that there are ways to manage it. For example, they have shown findings that playing sports helped them with growing up.
22. Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton—media personality, socialite, and entrepreneur—has been open about having ADHD and taking medication for it starting at a young age.
23. Howie Mandel
Television host and comedian Howie Mandel lives with ADHD as well as OCD and anxiety. He has been open about the challenges he has experienced related to managing the conditions and has said that he takes medication and attends therapy.
24. Ty Pennington
Ty Pennington has recalled causing disruptions and having difficulties focusing as a child before being diagnosed with ADHD in college. Today, he channels his energy into carpentry, art, and television roles.
Leaders, Politicians, And Entrepreneurs
25. David Neeleman
David Neeleman is the founder of multiple commercial airlines, including JetBlue. He has spoken openly about his experience with ADHD, crediting the condition for getting him to where he is today and helping him come up with innovative solutions.
26. Sir Richard Branson
British business mogul Richard Branson is the founder of Virgin Airlines and is also well-known for his work in space travel. He is yet another accomplished individual diagnosed with ADHD.
27. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was not directly diagnosed with ADHD in his lifetime. However, many researchers and experts today believe he may have had the condition.
28. James Carville
James Carville is a political consultant, commentator, and author well known for his work leading campaign strategy for former President Bill Clinton. Carville has been open about his experience with ADHD.
29. Paul Orfalea
Businessman Paul Orfalea is the founder of the copy chain Kinko's, and another example of a savvy entrepreneur with ADHD.
30. Daniel Koh
Daniel Koh is the former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and was included on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list. He said that he was disorganized and had difficulty concentrating in his youth, but that he now sees ADHD as a strength.
Help Is Available For ADHD
As this list illustrates, it’s entirely possible to have a successful, fulfilling life with ADHD. In fact, some of the celebrities listed here see the condition as an asset and a key part of their success. It all comes down to finding ways to manage your symptoms that work best for you. Treatment for ADHD often involves therapy, medication, or a combination of the two, depending on the individual and their unique circumstances. That’s why it’s recommended that you speak with your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist to assess your options and determine what might work best for you.
For some people with ADHD, certain symptoms may make it more difficult to navigate the tasks involved in setting up in-person therapy appointments. In these cases, online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may represent a more convenient alternative. This is because you can get matched with a licensed therapist online by filling out a short questionnaire and then have sessions from the comfort of home, without the hassle of a commute. Research has also suggested that online therapy can be effective for individuals with ADHD. For instance, a 2022 study examined the efficacy of online interventions for ADHD, and it found that they may represent “an effective intervention” for those experiencing symptoms of the condition.
Are there high achievers with ADHD?
Yes, high-achievers can have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some research shows that people with ADHD and high IQs can have lower executive functioning, which means they may have a hard time focusing, handling emotions, and following directions. These things may be challenging to overcome, but many people do. As the above list shows, many people have ADHD and can succeed in playing sports, writing songs, and playing sports.
Do any billionaires have ADHD?
Yes, Sir Richard Branson has become a billionaire by owning a large airline, building a major record label, and sending tourists into space, and he also has ADHD. Other billionaires with ADHD are Charles Schwab, the founder and CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation, and IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad before he died in 2018. Microsoft founder Bill Gates may also have ADHD.
Did any geniuses have ADHD?
While they were not officially diagnosed, some people speculate that Albert Einstein and Thomas Jefferson may have both exhibited symptoms of ADHD.
Do people with ADHD have high IQ?
Some people with ADHD have high IQs. In fact, some research shows high intelligence can increase the risk of ADHD.
What is the average IQ of someone with ADHD?
It may be unfair to quantify the average IQ of people with ADHD. ADHD can affect anyone, including people with low, average, or high IQs.
What are ADHD adults good at?
While some ADHD symptoms, like the inability to maintain focus, might be more challenging to overcome at an early age, they can become easier to manage and even beneficial over time. Research shows some adults with ADHD may experience some benefits, including higher energy, increased resilience, creativity, and courage. This can be complicated if people with ADHD struggle with another condition, like OCD mixed.
Does a high IQ mask ADHD?
Some research shows that adults with ADHD and elevated IQ may have fewer deficits than those with standard IQs, which means that people with high IQs may be able to compensate for their ADHD symptoms, which can make it more challenging to diagnose.
Are ADHD people gifted?
Not all ADHD people are gifted, but gifted people can have ADHD. Whether you’re talking about people who are intellectually gifted or blessed with a unique talent or ability, the list of people with ADHD, like World Trophy Champion Karina Smirnoff, as well as others, like chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver, Walt Disney, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Ty Pennigton of Extreme Makeover, Cat Barns who recently performed at the Brit Awards, and the most decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps. Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters has also said that he believes he has ADHD. The above article is a great example of people who have succeeded in their business, TV, sports, or music career because of or despite their condition.
What is the biggest symptom of ADHD?
ADHD is marked by a pattern of symptoms that includes inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Everyone is different and may experience different symptoms at different times, which can make it difficult to say what the most prominent symptom of ADHD is.
What does severe ADHD look like?
There is no official definition of or diagnostic criteria for severe ADHD; it is a more subjective label. Some clinicians use rating scales to assess symptoms or look at how the condition is affecting the entire life of the patient to determine whether ADHD can be considered severe.
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