NESN celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month — honoring the impact, influence, and achievements of the Asian community in sports.

Asian American and Pacific Islander athletes are making an impact in every corner of the sports world, and this year could be the start of their future star careers.

Legends like Chloe Kim, Hines Ward, Tiger Woods and Kristi Yamaguchi paved the way for AAPI athletes today to have a voice and be the role models for future AAPI athletes. These seven breakout stars are starting to or soon will become household names, and they’re names you should know as soon as possible.

Connor Wong
The Boston Red Sox catcher is the last man standing of the assets acquired in the Mookie Betts trade. The 28-year-old needed time to get going, but he was able to flash his ability as a major leaguer last season. This year, he’s making a strong case that he’s the franchise’s future catcher. Wong is solid defensively, but his offensive numbers took a huge leap over the first two months of the season. He’s hit five home runs and brought in 16 RBIs off a 150 OPS+ in 33 games this season, and it would not be surprising if he’ll have multiple All-Star nods in his résumé.

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Xander Schauffele
The 30-year-old is Taiwanese from his mother’s side, and he was the man of the hour at this year’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. Schauffele was primed to be a future star of the PGA Tour right when he made his debut in 2016. However, the world’s No. 2 golfer always came up short when it came to the majors. He persisted and helped the United States win two Presidents Cups, and he won the Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. His PGA Championship win could be the start of a memorable career Schauffele promised in his Tour debut.

Sahith Theegala
The Indian-American was a newcomer to the Tour when he was featured on Netflix’s “Full Swing” docuseries. Viewers saw his drive to compete with the best in the sport, and it feels like he’s on the cusp of a big win in his career. The 26-year-old won the Fortinet Championship last year to secure his first PGA Tour victory, and he earned a top-10 finish in the Masters that same year. Theegala was in the mix at the PGA Championship but fell short. However, his play continues to get better, and it might not be a long wait to see Theegala earn marquee victories on the Tour.

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Sunisa “Suni” Lee
Lee is of Hmong descent and made a name for herself at the 2020 Olympic Games when she won the gold medal in the individual all-around for gymnastics. The 21-year-old has been solid at Auburn but has been inconsistent in the lead-up to this year’s Olympics in Paris. However, she has the talent and ability to compete with the best, and even though Simone Biles will be tough competition, Lee could make it back-to-back Olympics with a gold medal.

Jaedyn Shaw
Fans were left with obvious disappointment when the United States women’s soccer team was eliminated in the Round of 16 in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. But in the back of fans’ minds, they knew the team still had a rich talent pool and Shaw is part of that group. The 19-year-old is of Vietnamese descent, and she became the first USWNT player in history to score a goal in their first four starts for the team at this year’s CONCACAF W Gold Cup. She’s shown a knack for finding open spaces and has been a vital goal-scorer for the United States. She’s in line to be called up for the Olympics and further cement her role on the team.

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Solo Sikoa
The son of WWE legend Rikishi, brother of The Usos and member of the iconic Anoa’i family, Sikoa is being positioned as the next top star in the company. After Roman Reigns lost to Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania XL, Sikoa took over leadership of the Bloodline faction and is being set up to be the top heel of “SmackDown.” He has the sons of Haku, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, with him, and his skillset could push him to be a main event star.

Marte Mapu
New England Patriots fans could be forgiven if they checked out of last season when it became clear the team was a lost cause. What those fans missed was Mapu showcasing his raw talent and why he might have been a steal in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Samoan-American recorded his first interception off Patrick Mahomes and was a menace for opposing quarterbacks. This season could be a campaign where he shows the future is bright for Jerod Mayo’s side.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images