With their keen interest in pop-culture icons—and a largely disposable income to buy into their lifestyles—young men are a much-coveted demographic for apparel marketers. No company knows that better than the Northbrook, Ill.–based Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU), which this month released its most recent study of 1,600 teens across the U.S. Here are young men’s top athletes and musicians by TRU Score, described as the “percentage of teens who are familiar with a performer and say they like that [person] ‘very much.’”
1. Tony Hawk 50
A pro since 14, Hawk is responsible for more than 80 skateboard tricks (and, one can imagine, many broken teenage bones). He’s also the inspiration for a namesake video game.
2. LeBron James 48
Sportswriters are running out of superlatives to describe this Ohio native and his $90 million Nike contract. James was the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first overall pick for the ’03 draft.
3. Shaquille O’Neal 48
7-foot 1-inch Miami Heat center O’Neal is a master both on and off the court—in 2005, he completed his master’s from the University of Phoenix.
4. Peyton Manning 44
The Colts QB grabbed a Super Bowl victory in February and was named MVP. But he’s also a star off the field, as the face of sponsors including MasterCard, Gatorade and Sony.
5. Dwyane Wade 43
Although he’s recovering from knee and shoulder surgery, the Miami Heat guard still managed to finish the regular season with an average of 27.4 points a game.
6. LaDainian Tomlinson 43
A record-shattering running back for the San Diego Chargers, Tomlinson is regarded as one of the best overall players since Emmitt Smith—Tomlinson’s boyhood idol.
7. Tiger Woods 43
Just this month, the golf star (and new daddy) won yet another showdown, taking a $10 million top prize at The PGA Tour Championship, the Super Bowl of golf.
8. Steve Nash 41
This guard for the Phoenix Suns was a unanimous pick for the 2006-’07 All-NBA first team. Unlike his many counterparts, Nash has few endorsements and is rarely on TV.
9. Reggie Bush 40
Nicknamed “The President,” this New Orleans Saint took home the coveted Heisman Trophy in 2005. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush has brought hope to a heartbroken city.
10. Vince Young 39
The Tennessee Titan finished right behind Bush on this list, and for the 2005 Heisman. He’s a threat on the field, but a family guy—his jersey bears the date of his mother’s birthday.
11. Carmelo Anthony 39
This NYC native is now the Denver Nuggets’ small forward and turned the team from lackluster to NBA contender with an average of 21 points per game in his first pro year.
1. Nickelback 41
Heavy radio play of the love-it-or-hate-it “Photograph” and a grueling concert tour helped Nickelback unload five million copies of 2005’s “All the Right Reasons.”
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers 37
Anthony Kiedis and Co. earned fans with albums like “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” and “Californication.” Today, the band keeps heads bobbing with hits like “Dani California.”
3. Akon 36
After winning praise for his Top 10 hit “Locked Up,” this ghetto-fab hip-hop star released “Konvicted,” home to the lovely, exemplary lyrics of “Smack That.”
4. Green Day 36
Judging by its staying power, Green Day has well served the fans in its infamously named Idiot Club. The band’s latest effort, “American Idiot,” was its first-ever No. 1 album.
5. Eminem 34
After they stopped confusing him with candy, teens heralded Em as a mirror to their youth—sometimes funny, sometimes dark and always entertaining.
6. T.I. 33
The rapper with a rap sheet’s recent “T.I. vs. T.I.P.” was billed as one of the first rap concept albums. Despite mixed reviews, the album went gold in its first week.
7. Hinder 31
These post-grunge Oklahoma natives found fame with the track “Lips of an Angel.” The self-proclaimed hard partiers are currently touring with Papa Roach and Buckcherry.
8. 50 Cent 31
This “In the Club” rhymer has been in the headlines for his whose-album-will-sell-best beef with Kanye West. 50 boasts 11 Grammy nods, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Album.
9. Three 6 Mafia 29
These hip-hoppers made history last year, winning an Academy Award for Best Song with “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from the “Hustle & Flow” soundtrack.
10. Usher 29
This fresh-faced Grammy winner embodies suave—he’s come a long way since impersonating Michael Jackson in talent competitions.
11. Nelly 29
St. Louis–bred Nelly topped charts in 2000 with his catchy club hit “Country Grammar,” setting the scene for his second album, “Nellyville,” to come in at No. 1 upon its 2002 release.