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Secret Talents of Athletes

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterMarch 4, 2014

Secret Talents of Athletes

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    There's nothing unusual or mean-spirited about the fact that most star athletes are best known for what they accomplish in their respective sports versus other areas of their life.

    It's no different than when Ted from accounting is usually referred to in the office as "Ted from Accounting."

    When the vast majority of our time and attention involves one thing—or at least the one that that matters to everyone else—there's little reason anyone but your friends and family would dig deep into your love of horticulture.

    It's no different for the athletes we cheer for or root against—on occasion we may have our curiosity piqued by a certain athlete and journey down the Wikipedia rabbit hole to learn more about their life outside work, but the most relevant news is almost always focused on their stats, contract or other sports-related matter. 

    And when the subject does turn to their personal life, more often than not the story is much less about their secret talents than it is about their court docket.

    But there are plenty examples of athletes who manage to focus on their career while taking on other interests that reveal that their talent doesn't begin and end on the field, on the track, on the ice or wherever they earn a paycheck.

    These are the secret talents of athletes.

Owen Daniels

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Owen Daniels, Houston Texans 

    Secret TalentForecasting the weather

    Texans tight end Owen Daniels can both play on Sunday and provide a detailed forecast for his teammates. Daniels is the only player in the NFL that has a degree in meteorology. He’s also pretty good at ping pong. 

     

LeBron James

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    Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: LeBron James, Miami Heat

    Secret TalentSinging 

    We all know LeBron James is a showman on the court, but the baller has also been known to put on a show off the court by singing or busting a rhyme. 

     

Cliff Avril

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    Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks 

    Secret Talent: Speaking other languages, basketball 

    Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril is actually bilingual. As he explained during a post-Super Bowl trip to ESPN, Avril is of Haitian descent and speaks Creole in addition to English. Avril is also pretty good at basketball. 

Gracie Gold

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Gracie Gold, Olympic Figure Skater

    Secret TalentJuggling 

    Adorable American Olympian Gracie Gold has said she often juggles to calm her nerves before competitions. 

Aaron Maybin

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Aaron Maybin, Toronto Argonauts 

    Secret TalentPainting 

    Former NFL linebacker Aaron Maybin was featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks in the summer of 2013. He was ultimately cut by the Bengals, but according to TMZ, the demand for Maybin’s artwork “went through the roof.” 

John Denney

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: John Denney, Miami Dolphins 

    Secret Talent: Violin

    Dolphins long snapper John Denney grew up playing the violin. He started playing at age five and, although it was kind of forced upon him by his mother, he’s actually quite good. Denney’s mother wouldn’t let him play a sport unless he played an instrument. 

Herschel Walker

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Herschel Walker, Retired 

    Secret TalentBallet

    This one isn’t so secret anymore, but no list of athlete hidden talents would be complete without mentioning former football player and martial artist Herschel Walker’s ballet training. Walker revealed that ballet was part of his fitness regime to the New York Times back in 1988. 

David Beckham

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    Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: David Beckham, Retired 

    Secret TalentFencing

    Famed English footballer David Beckham picked up fencing as a hobby in 2008. According to a report by The Telegraph, Beckham used the sport as an opportunity to bond with celebrity friends like Tom Cruise and Will Smith. 

Michael Almanzar

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Michael Almanzar, Baltimore Orioles 

    Secret Talent: Playing video games

    While at Spring Training 2014, Orioles infielder Michael Almanzar revealed he’s pretty good at video games. But not any of that new junk—he’s an old-school guy. Like original “Zelda” old school.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

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    Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, WWE

    Secret TalentSinging

    The Rock may have the bulging physique of the mythical Greek strongman Hercules, but apparently he also has the singing voice of an angel. 

Chad Brown

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Chad Brown, Retired 

    Secret TalentBreeding snakes

    Retired NFL player Chad Brown is a reptile enthusiast who has been breeding snakes for years. So I guess his secret talent could most aptly be described as “animal husbandry.” 

Jody Craddock

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    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Jody Craddock, Retired 

    Secret TalentArt

    Former footballer Jody Craddock has been enjoying a second successful career as an artist in the years since his retirement. 

Brad Marchand

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins 

    Secret TalentCooking

    In addition to knowing his way around the ice, Bruins forward Brad Marchand also knows his way around a kitchen. He enjoys cooking and his favorite dish is salmon with crab stuffing. 

Grant Hill

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    Athlete/Team: Grant Hill, Retired

    Secret TalentPiano

    Retired baller Grant Hill is a talented piano player. In the past he’s tickled the ivories on a SportsCenter commercial and Late Night with David Letterman. More recently, Hill posted a video of his wife Tamia singing a Frank Ocean song while he accompanied her on piano. 

     

Theo Walcott

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Theo Walcott, Arsenal 

    Secret TalentCreative writing

    Arsenal forward Theo Walcott isn’t your stereotypical jock—he’s an athlete by day and author by night. Walcott has penned and published four children's books in recent years. 

Tuukka Rask

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins 

    Secret TalentDrums, tennis

    Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is also an accomplished tennis player and has been playing drums since he was 10 years old.

Lolo Jones

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Lolo Jones, American Olympian 

    Secret TalentWinning dance battles

    American bobsledder/sprint hurdler Lolo Jones is a pretty good dancer—recently she won an international dance-off against the Jamaican bobsled team at the Sochi Olympics—and loves playing Dance Dance Revolution. Jones is also a skilled rock climber. 

     

Bronson Arroyo

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Bronson Arroyo, Arizona Diamondbacks 

    Secret TalentGuitar

    Diamondbacks pitcher Bronson Arroyo didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 22, but 15 years later, he’s done an awful lot with it. According to a 2012 profile by ESPN, “Arroyo has recorded an album, walked the Grammy red carpet and played with Miley Cyrus’ guitarist.”

Aaron Gordon

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    Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Aaron Gordon, Arizona 

    Secret TalentIce hockey

    Arizona basketball player Aaron Gordon is a college hoops star, but he actually played another sport as a child. According to an interview with ESPN, Gordon was a talented ice hockey player as a youth. 

Rajon Rondo

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    Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

    Athlete/Team: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics 

    Secret TalentConnect Four, roller skating

    Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo would definitely beat you at a game of one-on-one hoops and almost definitely beat you at a game of Connect Four. Apparently he’s a big fan of the classic game and quite good at it. Oh, and Rondo can roller skate too!

Shane Byrne

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    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Shane Byrne, Retired

    Secret TalentDrums

    Retired Irish rugby union player James Byrne showed off his talent on drums recently for a Heineken commercial. He was one of a few famous faces in the spot demonstrating what makes them legendary. 

     

Ryan Lochte

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    Athlete/Team: Ryan Lochte, Olympic Swimmer

    Secret TalentDrawing

    American Olympian Ryan Lochte is known for being a great swimmer and about as deep as a puddle, but that’s not all there is to him. In 2012 Lochte discussed his artistic side in an interview with Rolling Stone—a drawing of “a mushroom with a crying eyeball in it” is one thing they touched on. 

     

Matt Forte

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    Athlete/Team: Matt Forte, Chicago Bears

    Secret TalentBaking 

    Bears running back Matt Forte may look big and bad on the football field while running over the opposition, but off the field he’s more domestic than you may imagine. According to the Hawaii Reporter, Forte is quite the baker and his chocolate chip cookies will knock your socks off. 

Milan Lucic

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins

    Secret TalentSaxophone, singing

    According to an interview NESN conducted with teammate Tuukka Rask, Milan Lucic can play the saxophone and fancies himself a bit of a singer.

     

Daniel Agger

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Daniel Agger, Liverpool 

    Secret TalentTattooing 

    Liverpool defender Daniel Agger is, according to a report by a British tabloid in 2009, a tattoo artist who “vowed to tattoo the entire Anfield squad if the club land[ed] their first league title in 19 years.”

Bobby Wagner

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks

    Secret TalentBasketball, pool

    In addition to playing football, Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner also knows his way around a basketball court and could probably kick your ass at pool. 

     

Evgeni Malkin

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    Gerry Thomas/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

    Secret TalentCheckers

    Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin speaks three languages and, according to former teammate Matt Cooke, is quite the checkers players. He enjoys playing the game so much that he actually searched out a group online and frequently plays against them to improve his skills. 

Thomas DeCoud

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta Falcons 

    Secret TalentSinging, impressions

    Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud does a pretty impressive Louis Armstrong impression. Click on the link to see him sing “What A Wonderful World” for the fine folks at NFL Films. 

     

Dion Dublin

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    Paul A. Hebert/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Dion Dublin, Retired 

    Secret TalentCreating musical instruments 

    Retired English footballer Dion Dublin is, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports, “an accomplished amateur percussionist” who “invented an instrument he labelled ‘The Dube.’” Dublin’s creation is “essentially a wooden box with holes in it.” 

Chad Ochocinco/Johnson

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    Jeff Daly/Invision/AP/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Chad Ochoocinco/Johnson, Free Agent 

    Secret TalentWeird sex stuff

    In a May 2011 interview with Cosmopolitan, Johnson revealed his hidden talent. And I quote: “I can detach my waist from the rest of my body during sex. It allows me a free range of motion, and I can move like no other can.” 

Jay Harrison

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    Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Jay Harrison, Carolina Hurricanes

    Secret TalentGuitar

    Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison has been playing the guitar since he was about 10 years old. His uncle and grandfather both played the instrument as well. Harrison came of age in the grunge era, so he has a soft spot for '90s alt rock and not a lot of new music gets him excited these days. 

Jerry Rice

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Jerry Rice, Retired 

    Secret TalentGolf

    Unlike Charles Barkley, NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice is actually pretty good at golf. His team won the Golf Network’s "Big Break: NFL Puerto Rico" series, earning $50,000 for his charity foundation. According to an interview with Golf Digest, Rice's game is currently a plus-1, but he's working on his short game. 

Nick Markakis

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles

    Secret TalentBalancing a folding chair on his chin

    Back in 2009 Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis was photographed balancing a folding chair on his chin for ESPN The Magazine. 

Rob Sims

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    Handout/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Rob Sims, Detroit Lions

    Secret TalentDebating

    According to an interview with M Live in 2010, Lions left guard Rob Sims hidden talent is debating. Said Sims, “I think I’d be good on the debate team. I’d be really good at debating. I’ll maybe be a lawyer when I’m done. I can argue with anybody. That’s got to be a hidden talent, right?”

Carlos Boozer

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    Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

    Athlete/Team: Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls

    Secret TalentChess, drawing

    Bulls forward Carlos Boozer has been playing chess since his dad taught him as an eight-year-old—their games have been known to last for weeks, if not months. He also enjoys drawing and has a few interesting characters that he’s mastered. 

Jason Pierre-Paul

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Athlete/Team: Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants

    Secret TalentBackflips 

    Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has the always impressive ability to do a backflip. And not just one or two backflips, JPP did 13 in a row back in 2009. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain

    Secret TalentTaekwondo

    Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn’t just a world class footballer, he’s also trained in martial arts. Ibrahimovic has been a black belt in taekwondo since the age of 17. 

Mike Tomlin

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Athlete/Team: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers 

    Secret TalentGeography 

    Steelers coach Mike Tomlin does all Americans a favor by being particularly learned in geography. A former member of his school’s World Geography Olympiad Team, Tomlin told NFL Films he’d be dangerous on Jeopardy—at at least one category. 

Eve Muirhead

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Eve Muirhead, Olympic Curler

    Secret TalentBagpipes

    Scottish curler Eve Muirhead recently won the bronze medal at the Sochi Olympics. After winning the medal Muirhead could have played the British national anthem on the bagpipes had she been asked…which she wasn’t. 

Calvin Murphy

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    JOE GIBLIN/Associated Press

    Athlete/Team: Calvin Murphy, Retired 

    Secret TalentBaton twirling

    Retired basketball star Calvin Murphy played his college ball at Nutmeg State where he developed and honed another talent—baton twirling. Murphy actually picked up a baton well before picking up a basketball. 

Conor McGregor

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Conor McGregor, MMA 

    Secret TalentOrigami

    Of those who displayed their talents in the Heineken legendary spot, Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor was definitely the biggest surprise. He may be a beast inside the octagon, but he’s also got the delicate touch necessary to create origami. 

     

Max Scherzer

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers 

    Secret TalentBookmaking

    According to an interview with ESPN, Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer is an accomplished bookmaker. He keeps an 18-inch ruler in his locker because he runs all the clubhouse betting pools. 

Mike Fisher

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    Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Mike Fisher

    Secret Talent: Putting a whole tennis ball in his mouth

    Last year, the Predators' Mike Fisher was asked if he had any hidden talents. His glorious response is seen in this photo and this video.

Eli Manning

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Athlete/Team: Eli Manning, New York Giants 

    Secret TalentJuggling

    Giants quarterback Eli Manning is actually a talented multi-tasker. Not only can he juggle pretty darn well, he can do so while answering trivia questions lobbed at him from NFL Films producers. 

     

Peyton Manning

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Athlete/Team: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos 

    Secret TalentGleeking

    Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is one of the most serious and intense players in the NFL, but when it comes to revealing his hidden talent, he reveals a much different side of himself. Manning told NFL Films his hidden talent is “gleeking,” which I’m pleased to note has absolutely nothing to do with that singsongy show on Fox.  

     

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