The Best and Worst Athletes Turned Musicians
The following list of athletes includes some of the most dominant, accomplished and athletic specimens in sports history. Combined, they split countless championships, MVP Awards, Hall of Fame busts and, at times, supported some of the largest fan bases on Earth.
So, what could be bad or ugly about this group of athletes?
Music. While some of them took the high road and transitioned admirably into new careers, others let their egos fly out of control, crash landing on the ears and eyes of America and beyond.
When you have been the best at something your entire life, it is hard to think that you can't be the best at something else. Sometimes it works out but most of the time it doesn't.
Here are some examples of top-flight athletes that had good, the bad and the ugly careers in the world of music.
Good: Wayman Tisdale
Sports: Wayman is one of the best college basketball players to grace the hardwood. He was the first player to earn First Team AP All-American honors for his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. He is the namesake of the Outstanding Freshman trophy in the NCAA, today. He was the second overall pick in the 1985 NBA draft and averaged 15 points and six rebounds a game in his 12 year career.
Music: Wayman retired from the NBA to pursue his talents as a jazz bassist. He released eight albums and his 2001 release Face to Face topped Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. Unlike most athletes-turned-musicians, Wayman let his music do the talking instead of his career numbers.
Good: Clint Dempsey
Sports: Clint has been an anchor on the wing during the recent resurgence of the US Men’s National Soccer Team. He has been one of the most consistent performers for the squad, often times being the only bright spot during poor stretches for the team. He has become a hero for EPL’s Fulham since signing in 2007 and regarded as the best American playing in England.
Music: Dempsey, or “Deuce” as he likes to be called, has always had a passion for hip hop. Clint recorded “Don’t Tread” in 2006 with fellow Texas rappers for a promotional campaign for the ’06 World Cup. Unlike most athlete rappers, the song has a positive vibe and avoids bragging about money or fame. Clint actually does pretty well considering his more-experienced company in the video. There are no egos here, as the last scene is “Deuce” placing a flower on the grave of his little sister.
Good: Bernie Williams
Sports: The Yankee switch-hitter was a five-time All Star, 4-time World Series champ and four-time Gold Glove winner. He holds career post season records for games(121), RBI’s(80) and extra base hits(51).
Muisc: Bernie is a classically trained guitarist and combined his love for jazz with his Latin American roots to create a fresh sound that listeners received very well. His two albums have both cracked Billboard’s Top 5 US Jazz chart. He has collaborated with several Grammy winners, but his most famous music mate was Bruce Springsteen who joined for a rendition of The Boss’s stadium classic “Glory Days”.
Bad: Bronson Arroyo
Sports: Bronson made six appearances for the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and went 10-9 that season with a 4.03 ERA and a 3-1 strikeout to walk ratio. He became famous (or infamous, depending on where you live) in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS when Alex Rodriguez knocked the ball out of Bronson’s glove on the way to first and was called out, negating a run scored by Derek Jeter.
Music: His so-so music career matches his so-so career. His 2005 album, cleverly titled Covering the Bases, was nothing but acoustic covers of 90’s grunge hits… yawn. He and a couple of other Sox-mates later teamed up with Boston punk rockers Dropkick Murphies for guest vocals on a song. If this were a non-celebrity playing the same songs, the room would be empty.
Bad: Oscar De La Hoya
Sports: Oscar won a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics and was the first to earn World Titles in six separate weight classes.
Music: Oscar took advantage of his success and boyish good looks by releasing a self-titled Latin pop album in 2000. It performed well, reaching No. 2 on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart. It ranked even higher on the Cheese-O-Meter, however. The album was rampant with gag-worthy, watery ballads like “Te Amo” and “Mi Amor”. The Bee Gee’s cover didn’t help, either.
Bad: Shaquille O’Neal
Sports: Shaq was a four-time NBA champion, three-time NBA Finals MVP and 15-time NBA All-Star. He is widely considered as one of the most dominant players of all time.
Music: Based only on his popularity (as opposed to talent), Shaq’s original record, 1992’s “Shaq Diesel” sold a whopping 864,000 units. He went on to release four more albums full of raps we could barely understand. We can only hope that the monotone, marble-filled mouth that kept him from appearing seriously as a rapper (and actor) will keep him out of the commentator booth as well. I’m not betting against it, though.
Ugly: Deion Sanders
Sports: “Neon” Deion Sanders was one of the greatest athletes of our time. He is the only player to win a Super Bowl and a World Series in a career. In 1992, he became the only person to hit a home run and score a touchdown… in the same week. Deion was recently inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
Music: Deion tried to stretch is talents just a bit too far with his 1994 release Prime Time. It barely cracked the Billboard Top 100 Hip Hop charts. One could imagine why, with such classics as “Y U NV ME?” and “Must Be The Money”.
Ugly: 1985 Chicago Bears
Sports: Went 18-1 and whooped the Patriots 46-10 to win Super Bowl XX in 1986.
Music: To Bears fans, the “Super Bowl Shuffle” was an instant classic that is likely still a hit at Windy City karaoke bars. In all fairness, it did almost crack the Billboard’s Top 40 chart just after the big game. For the rest of us, however, it was both an ear-sore and an eyesore. Seeing near-400lb lineman William “Refrigerator” Perry dance stays into our memories forever.
Ugly: Alexi Lalas
Sports: Alexi earned 96 caps for the US Men’s National Soccer team, anchoring the defense during the 1994 World Cup. After his stellar performance, he signed with Italian club Padova and became the first American player to play in Serie A, the top Italian soccer league.
Music: Lalas was a busy man in 1998. Outside of his duties riding the pine for the ’98 World Cup team, Lalas attempted to ride the coattails of Hootie and the Blowfish, fronting a band that toured with the 90’s staple in Europe. Later that year, he released Ginger, his aptly named solo debut. His knack for headers greatly outweighed his knack for singing, however. While his forays into music are some of the most laughable of this entire group, he is somehow still at it. Alexi released his fourth… count it fourth… solo album in September of 2010.
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