It is quite common that we as sports fans forget that at the end of a thirty point night in Cleveland, the end of another masterful performance on the mound, or the end of yet another grand slam championship victory, athletes such as LeBron James, Clayton Kershaw, and Serena Williams step out of the spotlight and are a lot like you and I. They have families, peer groups, and other interests and endeavours that they would like to pursue within their lives. Their lives do not revolve exclusively around their professions, although to the public eye it is cast as such.
Haven't you ever wondered what it would be like to spend a day with your favourite athlete? What would you talk about? What would they be interested in doing? Well, we have had similar thoughts and set out to explore just how multidimensional some of the most influential athletes in sports can be outside of their professional lives. Whether it's rapping with Damian Lillard, painting with Vernon Davis, or attending a cooking class with Novak Djokovic, when it comes to personality, some of your favourite athletes would make excellent hangout buddies.
15 Vernon Davis- Painter
Who ever said that football players can't have a sensitive side? Vernon Davis has been one of the greatest tight ends that the NFL has seen over the past decade, but off the field, Davis tends to tone it down a little bit and finds joy and relaxation within the art of painting. While playing football at the University of Marilyn, Davis was also a Studio Arts major.
Davis along with famous brand manager and executive Antone Barnes, actually started their own business, co-founding an interior design company called Modern Class Design. When Davis isn't playing football or working on his own art, he is using his passion to catalyze his charity; The Vernon Davis Foundation. Davis uses the power of art to inspire youth and encourage them to find what makes them happy.
14 Henrik Lundqvist and John McEnroe
What do one of the greatest goalies of this generation and one of the greatest tennis players of all time have in common? Well, a few things actually. Henrik Lundqvist and John McEnroe are icons within their respective sports. Henrik has won Olympic gold- McEnroe Grand Slam championships. Outside of the arena however, they also share a common passion for something else- music.
Lundqvist and McEnroe are excellent friends and longtime jam buddies. Both men are guitar enthusiasts and use it as an outlet to escape the pressures that come with being a professional athlete. The two even started a band in which they call "The Noise Upstairs" and have played at several charity events, including "Rock of Dreams" in New York City in 2012. Lundvqist has also made an appearance playing the guitar on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
13 Russell Westbrook- Fashion
Most NBA fans by now have surely noticed that there is something different about Russell Westbrook both on and off the court. Westbrook is an athletic freak and potentially the most exciting athlete that the game has ever seen. Westbrook's unique personality on the court is a testament to his unique personality off of the court, as Westbrook is hard to miss in both cases.
Westbrook has a passion for fashion, leading many to believe he may land in Los Angeles this offseason. Westbrook's interest in fashion led him to a collaboration with luxury department store Barneys, New York. Russ has also released his own line of eye ware called "Westbrook Frames" and in 2015, was named Marketing Creative Director of True Religion's spring campaign.
12 Shaquille O'Neal- Rapping
We know that The Big Diesel can hoop with the best of them, but rap and act? We're not so sure. Shaq is known as one of the most colorful personalities in sports and has never been one to shy away from the camera. When he was younger, let's just say Shaq had many creative endeavours that he looked to fulfill. Luckily, he realized how enormous he was compared to most people and opted to take his talents to the basketball court- a choice that I don't think he will ever regret.
Sometimes all the charisma in the world won't make you a great actor, and although it wasn't entirely Shaq's fault, his cinematic experience has been less than appealing. Shaq plays the role of a magical geenie in the 1996 family flick "Kazaam," a film that earned an entire 2.8/10 on IMDB. However, Shaq also tested his skills behind the microphone, as growing up he was quite close with Christopher Wallace, AKA the Notorious B.I.G. Shaq would actually find some success in the rap game, as in 1993 he signed a deal with Jive records and released his debut album "Shaq Diesel" that actually peaked at number 25 on the billboard 200 in the U.S.
11 Novak Djokovic- Cooking and Self-Preservation
Novak Djokovic can do more than just talk or play a big game- he can cook one too. Djokovic is one of the more fascinating athletes of our time, as his friendly sense of humour, calm and cool demeanor, and political and philosophical lines of thinking make him quite the mysterious figure to the public eye. Something many people don't know about the Serbian tennis phenom is that he is an excellent cook, who's cooking is tailored towards self-preservation and well-being.
In 2013 Djokovic released his cookbook entitled "Serve to Win." The book is more than just a recipe book however, as within its pages lay Djokovic's autobiography, a self-help guide to life, and of course, the 14-day gluten free plan that Djokovic has crafted and benefited from throughout his professional career, that is said to improve mental and physical excellence. Judging by Novak's resume, we feel as though everyone should go out and buy this book immediately.
10 Tim Duncan- Swimming
Tim Duncan provides us with one of the biggest "what-ifs" in terms of one's athletic career path. Before Duncan had even put his hands on a basketball, he was an extremely skilled and accomplished swimmer. Duncan was born and raised on St.Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands and along with his sister Tricia, dedicated most of his childhood to swimming- not basketball.
Duncan had the prototypical swimmers body and absolutely thrived in the water, breaking and holding the Virgin Islands records in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle events and became nationally ranked in the United States for 400-meter freestyle at just the age of thirteen. Duncan could have been an Olympic swimmer, but instead decided to switch to basketball. Why you may ask? Well, in 1989, a vicious hurricane hit St.Croix and destroyed the only public swimming pool on the island. Duncan would be forced to train in the ocean, but was too afraid of the sharks that would share these waters. This killed his ability to train, and Duncan's mother passing away just one day before his 14th birthday destroyed his love for the sport all together.
9 Zach Hyman- Childrens Author
If you are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you are well aware of the potential that young winger Zach Hyman brings to the table. The Leafs are hopeful that Hyman is a key part of the plan going forward, as he brings a style of grit and intensity that is extremely valuable in today's NHL. Off the ice however, Hyman is an extremely intellectual kid and uses his talents to inspire many by writing children's books.
Hyman's books target young individuals and send out messages of determination, teamwork, and believing in oneself. Hyman wrote a story entitled "Hockey Hero" for his Jewish day school in Toronto, that was eventually picked up by publishing company Random House, and made into a children's book. Hyman also has another book entitled "Bambino and Me" that pertains to a young New York Yankees fan and his experience meeting Babe Ruth.
8 Damian Lillard- Rapper
Most of you probably know Damian Lillard as the point guard of the NBA's Portland Trailblazers. What you may not know is what many of his peers refer to him as off of the floor- "Dame D.O.L.L.A." All his life, Damian Lillard has had a resounding passion for music and more specifically, rap music. Now, Lillard of course is not the first athlete to be enthralled by the world of music, but he is however, one of the rare few that could probably make a career in it as well.
Lillard uses music as a platform for political discussion and to communicate his messages of hope and freedom among marginalized communities. Lillard prides himself on not using curse words in his music and communicating his messages in a more sophisticated manner that is appropriate for all ears. In 2013, Lillard started a rap series on social media called "Four-Bar Fridays" in which he invited fans and NBA peers to put their MC skills on display once a week via Instagram. Dame Dolla has even been getting attention from major record labels and may just ink a deal in the near future.
7 Robin Lopez- Drawing
When the big man isn't throwing down the rock, Robin Lopez likes to take out his frustrations in two ways- beating up mascots as you may know, or by drawing. Yes, Robin Lopez is notorious for picking on mascots all over the NBA, but in this article we are going to focus on the latter of the two.
Lopez is known for carrying a pen and a doodle book everywhere he goes, as his imagination is always set in motion. Luckily for fans, Lopez posts most of his illustrations on his Instagram account, and we have to admit- they are pretty damn impressive. His love for drawing goes beyond just doodling, as he has admitted that if he wasn't playing in the NBA, he would have pursued a career in designing and drawing cartoons. Lopez is also known around the league for drawing on all of his shoes, creating his own patterns and styles.
6 Kobe Bryant- Piano
Kobe Bryant was best known for his genius capabilities and extreme work ethic. These qualities translate into Kobe's life off of the basketball court as well, as Kobe also takes great interest in music and just recently, taught himself how to play the piano. Kobe's obsessive personality, led him to learning one of the most incredible pieces of music ever written in Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"- all by himself.
Kobe told Dime Magazine: “If you just sit down and say, ‘I’m going to learn this thing until I do,’ ” he says, “there’s not really much out there that you can’t figure out eventually.” Yep, sounds like Kobe to us. Kobe expressed in a picture he posted to Twitter, that listening to or playing the song, calms him down when he feels as though he is going to reach his breaking point. We could bet that if this is the case, Kobe didn't go anywhere near a piano on game day.
5 Connor McGregor- Origami
Yes, you read that right- one of the most successful and dominant MMA fighters of all time enjoys sculpting animals out of paper on his down time. McGregor is best known for his competitive nature and inspiring charisma both inside and outside of the octagon. He is a fierce competitor with one of the biggest mouths in sports and apparently some of the softest hands, also.
McGregor's talent surfaced during a Heineken beer campaign in which they had legendary Irish athletes display their "secret talents." The commercials carried a slogan that read "everybody is legendary at something" as the campaign is an open offer to the public to send in videos of whatever their interesting talents may be. Thank you Heineken, you have brought to our attention to just how delicate one of the most fierce competitors in sports can be, once again reminding us all that even the most famous and talented athletes are just like you and I.
4 C.J. McCollum- Journalism
It appears as though the Portland TrailBlazers may have one of the most interesting back-courts in the NBA. Between Damian Lillard's passion for rap music, and C.J. McCollums passion for journalism as the two make quite the sophisticated and interesting partnership. McCollum was a Journalism major at Lehigh University and graduated with a degree in the program.
McCollum is someone who strongly values his education and believes that all student athletes should finish school before turning professional. McCollum has written for several different websites regarding the NBA, but most recently flexed his journalism degree to work a one-week intern for "The Players Tribune" during draft week, in which he assisted the editorial team in covering the draft, interviewing players, and even sat down for a one-on-one with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
3 3. Serena Williams- Seamstress
When watching Serena Williams, one probably thinks of three words- power, intimidation, and skill. Off the court however, Serena is a much more laid back individual. When Serena Williams isn't slamming tennis balls down the throats of her opponents, she takes a liking to sewing, something that helps her take her mind away from tennis and allows her to relax.
Serena Williams the tennis player by day and seamstress by night...who would have thought? Believe it or not, Serena Williams used to battle with her self-esteem in large part because of her taller and thinner sister Venus. Serena's pursuit of sewing and fashion design gives her an outlet to battle the societal pressures of female body imaging and she looks to inspire women with the same issues that she faced with her work.
2 A.J. Green- Juggling
Cincinnati Bengals A.J. Green can apparently catch more than just one ball, as the wide receiver is apparently known for his juggling skills. Teammates often request Green perform his juggling routines in the locker room and it is always something that seems to raise the morale of the team. Green apparently had more than one trick up his sleeve of circus acts, as during a halftime show, Green juggled bowling pins in front of fans while riding a unicycle! That could have been one awkward and inexplicable injury.
1 Paul George- Fishing
Thanks to the Raptors this past Spring, Paul George got to set out to the waters a couple of months early to enjoy his favourite pastime- fishing. George is an avid fisher and loves nothing more than to be on the water and enjoy those moments of tranquility while he is away from the craziness of the NBA.
George will also use fishing as a tool for team-building, often bringing teammates out ont he water to escape the madness of their everyday lives, and simply talk and reflect upon how things in life are going. George even won his first ever fishing tournament last Spring, catching 20.17 pounds of fish with his partner Jacob Wheeler on route to their victory on the water.