The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006

ByABC News
December 11, 2006, 1:55 PM

Dec. 12, 2006 — -- The year 2006 was a fascinating one, and Barbara Walters is looking back at the people who influenced, inspired, entertained and surprised us over the past 12 months. The list includes some of the year's most prominent names in entertainment, politics, sports and business.

When it comes to sports, we tend to focus on the winners. But on Sept. 3 at the U.S. Open, the most fascinating person on the court was Andre Agassi, the one who lost.

It was perhaps the year's most memorable moment in sports: a four-minute standing ovation -- unprompted, unexpected and heartfelt.

Agassi had announced that the Open would be his final match, and addressed the crowd after that magical moment:

"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn't say is what it is I have found. You have given me your shoulders to stand on, to reach for my dreams -- dreams I could have never reached without you."

Despite eight Grand Slams, an Olympic gold medal and ranking as the best player in the world, over a 21-year career, Agassi's dreams -- he told Walters -- weren't just about winning:

"It was never about winning because winning only sort of sets you up to say, 'OK, well, I gotta do it again next week, I gotta do it again tomorrow.'"

When he turned pro in 1986 at the age of 16, Agassi was rebellious, long-haired and sexy -- more rock star than tennis star.

His many victories were followed by terrible slumps. And every triumph and every trial -- including a failed marriage to actress Brooke Shields and a painful plunge in the rankings -- played out in the public spotlight.

Walters asked Agassi if he ever considered giving up the game:

"I've probably given up a thousand times in my own mind," Agassi said. "But I knew it would be quitting not retiring. It would have been quitting, and that, that wasn't working for me."

Agassi did retire after the U.S. Open, and now devotes most of his time to his family: his 5-year-old son, Jade, his 3-year-old daughter, Jaz, and his wife, retired tennis great Steffi Graf.

Agassi has also become another kind of champion: a voice for underprivileged children in his hometown of Las Vegas. The Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation provides funds for education, and has raised more than $60 million.

When asked how he would sum up this past year, Agassi told Walters, "For me, it was the pinnacle of everything I've sort of dedicated the last 21 years to. What I felt at the U.S. Open makes up for all the struggles this year on the court. It makes up for all the struggles over the last 21 years.

They were, without a doubt, the most fascinating couple of the year.

When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie met on the set of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," it set off Hollywood's hottest romance but there were obstacles from the start.

Pitt was married to actress Jennifer Aniston, and Jolie also had other commitments -- to her adopted son, Maddox, and to helping impoverished children around the world as a U.N. ambassador.

When the couple finally connected, their combined star power lit up the media universe.

Pitt adopted Maddox, and a new daughter from Ethiopia, and this spring they retreated from the paparazzi to Namibia, in Africa, where Jolie gave birth to their daughter, Shiloh. The couple sold her baby pictures for a reported $4 million, money they donated to charity.

The Jolie-Pitts are not exactly the folks next door as they travel the world with their brood. They are sexy but domestic, rich beyond measure but equally generous. They are unique, and can only be called "Brangelina."

He is rich, famous, handsome, and adored by millions of fans on television each week, but he's not an actor. He's an evangelical pastor from Houston named Joel Osteen.