Athletes Who Are Also Musicians

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2014

Athletes Who Are Also Musicians

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    CHRIS PIZZELLO/Associated Press

    Professional athletes have had a long, sometimes tumultuous relationship with the music business.

    More often than not, the general public tends to consider an athlete's musical career as nothing more than a novelty act. 

    But there are instances when that notion doesn't always ring true.

    The list below consists of athletes who have either made a splash—or attempted to make a splash—within the music industry.

    From a pair of former New York Yankees sluggers to an extravagant Hall of Fame football player, all of the guys who have made it onto this list have one thing in common: They've all tried their hand at creating euphonious music within their respective genres.

    Now, without further delay, it's time to start the slideshow below and take a look at 10 athletes who are also musicians.

Shaquille O'Neal

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    Legendary basketball big man Shaquille O'Neal's legacy is one of a kind.

    A true staple of '90s culture, O'Neal spent a good portion of his adult life winning NBA championships, tearing down backboards, starring in "blockbuster" movies and recording hip-hop albums.

    Out of his four solo releases, only Shaq Diesel actually reached platinum status in the United States.

    Say what you want about Shaq's music, but the 7'1" MC sold a bevy of records and even once collaborated with hip-hop legend Biggie Smalls.

    Talking about their relationship, Sean Combs—also known as Diddy—said on Outside the Lines, that Biggie "respected" O'Neal's musical ability.

    That's a ringing endorsement if I've ever heard one.

Clint Dempsey

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Don't let American soccer player Clint Dempsey fool you.

    Aside from his responsibilities leading the U.S. men's national team, Dempsey also goes by the pseudonym Deuce when he's spitting bars.

    Back in 2006, Deuce and Nike teamed up together and released a track that would help fans get amped up for the World Cup.

    Deuce got his grind on, unleashing lyrics about the sport in a gravely, free-flowing tone. Accompanied by bursts of strings and a repetitive guitar lick, "Don't Tread on Me" hit YouTube and has complied over 1.75 million views to date.

    Dempsey's music career may have been short-lived, but his legacy as Deuce will always have a place on the Internet.

    On a side note, it's also the only time I can remember Nike actually using all capital letters when titling a YouTube video.

Deion Sanders

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    Joseph R. Villarin/Associated Press

    Of all the athletes turned musicians over the years, Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders may take the title for being the most egregious.

    In classic Prime Time fashion, Sanders made sure his album was soaked with MC Hammer-esque production, and the lyrics centered around money, money and of course, more money.

    When his debut album dropped in 1994, Sanders set the world ablaze with his "hit" single "Must be the Money."

    If you haven't heard that record, you need to stop what you're doing immediately and bask in its glory.

    Though he'll go down as one of the best defensive backs in the history of the NFL, Prime Time's music could never find a way to achieve mainstream success.

    Regardless, if you want to own a piece of history, you can bounce over to Amazon and purchase a copy of his debut album for just under three dollars.

Bernie Williams

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    Evan Agostini/Associated Press

    Former New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams was a fundamental part of the team's championship-laden run from 1996 through 2000.

    Though Williams would continue to play through the 2006 season, his career will forever be defined by his contributions during those golden years.

    But Williams' talents didn't stop when he took off his pinstripes. A gifted guitar player, he has carved out a nice career trying his hand in the calming world of jazz.

    Bob Klapisch of The Record wrote an intricate profile on Williams' music career.

    In it, he would reveal that the former Yankee slugger was "trained in classical guitar growing up in Puerto Rico and continued his studies at SUNY Purchase the year after retiring."

    Whether he's playing baseball or plucking the strings of a guitar, Williams always finds a way to stay at the top of his craft.

Manny Pacquiao

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    Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

    A world-class boxer, actor and congressman. Is there anything Manny Pacquiao can't do?

    Aside from his political and boxing acumen, Pacquiao has also doubled as a musician on occasion.

    As an adult contemporary singer, the 35-year-old has not only put together two solo albums, but he even covered Dan Hill's hit single "Sometimes When We Touch."

    Pacquiao's biggest musical feat, though, came when he got the chance to croon with actor Will Ferrell.

    Forget trying to put together a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. I'd rather have something more substantial, like a joint album from Ferrell and Pacquiao.

Kobe Bryant

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    Like his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant once tried his hand in the music industry.

    Unlike Shaq, Bryant's hip-hop career came and went faster than his return to the hardwood this past season.

    In 2000, a then 21-year-old Bryant attempted to release an album entitled Visions to the world. 

    Visions never ended up being released, but we did get his debut single "K.O.B.E." featuring Tyra Banks.

    Yes, that Tyra Banks.

    Not everyone is cut out for music, and Bryant proved that despite his admirable efforts 14 years ago.

    (For an extensive look into Bryant's rap career, check out this article by Thomas Golianopoulos featured on Grantland.com.)

    At least the Black Mamba will always have countless championship rings, a buttery jump shot and a ridiculous 81-point effort against the Toronto Raptors to be remembered by.

Roy Jones Jr.

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    Before Floyd Mayweather was boxing's pound-for-pound king, there was Roy Jones Jr.

    One of the flashiest, most charismatic fighters to ever step foot in the ring, Jones Jr. had an illustrious career that included titles in multiple weight classes.

    Outside of the ring, he dabbled in the music world using his supreme confidence and boxing skills as the main source for his material.

    Jones Jr.'s inaugural record Round One: The Album hit shelves in early 2002.

    The album was chock-full of gems that included "Y'all Musta Forgot," in which Jones Jr. verbally reflects on all of the opponents he destroyed in the ring.

    Turning his attention once again to his boxing career, he would go on to follow up his debut effort with a group album in 2004.

    Jones Jr.'s music may not have caught fire in the United States, but back in 2012 he took his efforts overseas and performed throughout different areas of Russia, where he continues to be a sought after personality.

Chris Webber

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    Out of all the athletes featured on this list, former NBA player Chris Webber is the one guy who made his name working "behind-the-scenes."

    Although he did release an album in 1999, Webber's biggest accomplishment in the music industry came as a producer.

    C-Webb got behind the boards and pieced together a track for Nas' 2006 No. 1 selling album Hip Hop is Dead. Talking to Sway Calloway of MTV News, Webber explained how the entire thing came together.

    Webber's work crafting beats has far outlived the duration of his brief career as an MC.

    Regardless how you feel about his music, it's got to be a pretty satisfying feeling for Webber to see one of his beats end up on a Nas album. After all, Nas is a guy who's widely regarded as one of hip-hop's true pioneers.

Nick Swisher

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Baseball has seen it's fair share of athletes try their hand in music.

    From Bernie Williams to Bronson Arroyo, Major League Baseball players have covered all sides of the musical spectrum.

    But one guy who you may not know has a musical inclination is Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians.

    Back in 2011, when Swisher was playing for the New York Yankees, he released two albums—both of which are still available through iTunes.

    The genre he chose to jump into? Children's music. That's right, Swisher put forth an effort that was directed toward kids.

    With a chorus of children singing along with him, his album Believe was constructed with a charity element behind it—proceeds from the album benefit his charity Swish's Wishes.

    If you listen to the majority of music athletes put out, it's obvious that they can't all be superstars. 

    So why not take the Swisher approach and record something to help people instead?