When elementary school teachers ask their students the customary, open-ended question—what do you want to be when you grow up?—one answer prevails. Amongst President, doctor, and firefighter is professional athlete. Grade school children practice sport religiously, and have a competitive edge instilled in them from the onset of adolescence. This passion coupled with the now filled blank space on that life-altering quiz, ignites a dream to conquer the odds and make a future filled with professional sport a reality. Desolately, most give up on that dream once they accept the fact that every other player is taller, stronger, and faster, but others toss logic out the window and stick it out in hopes of breaking down the fictitious door they’ve been knocking on.
For the celebrities on this list, even after storied Hollywood careers, they seem to fit that bill. Each one on this list has managed to remain close to sport with the help of close-knit relationships with some of the world’s top athletes. As a result, they’ve kept their childhood dreams alive in some capacity, enjoying the professional sport life even if it means playing the role of spectator. The actors who made this list have hinted at their yearning for sport in some of their most popular films. Whether they’ve starred as the prominent underdog athlete or as the no-nonsense, motivating coach, they’ve made sure to use the big screen to help turn their dreams into temporary realities. As for the other icons that made the cut, the musicians lead the way with four selections, one of which has been a transcendent figure in the world of sports over the last half decade. The only comedian on the list grabbed the top spot. Here are the nine other megastars who wished they had selected a career along an athletic path.
12 Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe’s allegiance to the Indianapolis Colts is well documented. On several episodes of the successful NBC show Parks and Recreation, which recently came to a close, the cast references the hometown team, and Lowe surely helped lure Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, and owner Jim Irsay to the set as guest stars. Lowe’s character on the program, Chris Traeger, is upbeat and energetic; he lives an athletic lifestyle and limits his diet to healthy foods, the way the athlete in him would.
11 Spike Lee
10 Justin Bieber
9 Snoop Dogg
8 Mark Wahlberg
7 Denzel Washington
6 Matthew McConaughey
In the second edition of the NBA All-star celebrity game, Nelly captured the game’s MVP award. A year prior, he displayed his athletic dominance on the big screen as a game-breaking running back in the 2005 movie The Longest Yard, a remake of the 1974 film by the same name. Aside from showcasing his talents to the world in those sports, Nelly was a star baseball player at the high school level. The hip-hop icon may have had the best chance of having his athletic dream realized, as he once garnered interest from the Pittsburgh Pirates and his hometown St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball.
2 T-1. Kevin Hart
The comedian and blossoming actor has taken the Hollywood world by storm in recent years, but he would have loved to enjoy a similar rise to stardom as an athlete. Hart has seized the NBA’s celebrity All-star game MVP trophy a record four times, and while his antics are a ploy to entertain the crowd, he appears to play with a genuine fire in certain moments that would bode well for him as an athlete. He decided to retire from the game after getting schooled by Little League Baseball sensation Mo’Ne Davis in this year’s game. However, if Hart had the prototypical NBA player’s size, he may have been selected to play in the official league All-star game.
1 T-1. Will Ferrell
At least Will Ferrell doesn't take himself too seriously when he's in a sports role of sorts. Films he's done include Talladega Nights, Semi-Pro, Blades of Glory and Kicking & Screaming, Ferrell can often be seen at L.A. sports games, be it for the Kings, Dodgers or his alma mater USC Trojans. Perhaps the best display of Ferrell's inner itch to be an athletes was when he suited up for multiple teams in a single day in spring training this year, playing all nine positions. It was for a good cause, as the memorabilia sold from his day as a player went to two cancer charities. Ferrell may not be an athlete, but he sure is an entertainer.
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