You might not think it, but an athlete’s hairstyle is often made out to be more than it actually is. For some hair is just hair, no matter how you wear it. For others, it’s a way of standing out and expressing themselves. In regards to the latter, those looking to stand out usually go with something flashy and easily recognizable. That’s where the afro comes in. Nothing says look at me more than an abnormally large mass of hair collecting space onto of your head.
Some of these actually turn out to be decent looks. Those who manage to pull this kind of thing off could either fail miserably or look great in the process. Luckily for some, they manage to do an alright job of bringing it back. But anytime you decide you’re rocking a hairstyle that was popularized in the 1970s, you’re going to be taking some risks.
Out of all the types of afros on this list, the strangest ones are either the biggest ones with the most size or the messiest looking ones you can think to find on a field. It’s a distinguishing character trait and even sometimes helps define a player’s career, similar to Ronaldinho’s teeth. Of course, this isn’t all these players should be remembered for, but anytime you get out on to a field, in front of cameras and thousands of fans, it’ll get harder and harder to be remembered for something aside from the first thing they took notice of.
15 Benoit Assou-Ekotto
First things first, Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s hair is actually pretty impressive, though the thing sometimes looks like it’s taken a mind of its own. Especially when you see him run on the field, it just sways abrasively from left to right. It wouldn’t be all too surprising to find out that he’d kept the afro for so many years as a means of distracting opposing players while he ran past them. Even when he’s not just standing around, the thing looks like it’s still being pushed back by the wind. Like some sort of permanent side effect.
14 Marouane Fellaini
Another soccer player rocking a kick-ass fro. Marouane Felliaini is one of the few athletes in the world that can run all over the field yet still be recognized by the furry brown blob attached to his head. But the Belgian midfielder recently lost his most distinguishing trait. Last year, he said that he’d shave off his magnificent mane if Belgium won the World Cup. Well they only made it to the quarter-finals. Su you’d think his hair was safe, right? Wrong! Felliaini went ahead and did it anyway, though it's since grown back strongly.
13 Coco Crisp
Aside having one of the coolest names in sports, Coco Crisp also had one of the wildest afros on the planet. Ever seen the guy wearing a baseball cap? It looks like a springboard ready to snap. There’s no material on the planet that can keep that hair down. If you don’t believe it, just look at any picture of the guy without anything on his head. His hair looks like it’s gradually branching out into the freaking stratosphere. But sadly it is no more. Crisp shaved it off a few years back and while he might not have explained why, it’s pretty safe to assume that his helmet continuously falling off his head had something to do with it.
12 Kenny Bell
The newest addition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers really stood out during his time at Nebraska and it wasn’t because of his playing ability. Well, he was a good player, but most people unfamiliar with the program would’ve recognized Kenny Bell not for the fluffy mass peeking out from under his helmet. Long before he made it to the pros, Bell was rocking one of the flashiest, eye-grabbing cuts known to man. But after a lost bet with his brother, he cut it all off. He seems to have grown a nice potion of it back but it’ll take a while till it reaches its former glory.
11 Andrew Bynum
While it might look like your average afro at first, Andrew Brynum’s hairstyle really varies depending on what angle you’re looking at it from. It’s led to him getting some rather unsavory comparisons. If you look at it from a higher angle, it looks like he’s working the Don King look. ESPN’s Jemele Hill claimed he looked like historical figure Fredrick Douglas. But the afro really stands out if you’re looking at it from the side. It’s like a perfect bubble made out of hair.
10 Allen Iverson
Most people will remember Allen Iverson’s cornrows and braids more than any other hairstyle he’s had. It seriously looked like he’d hired a specialist to contort and move his hair around in the weirdest way possible. Sort of like a maze on his head. However, his afro was always an underappreciated look. It wasn’t anything huge or wild, just really frizzy and about ten times funkier. It looked like a ball of static electricity. He might as well have just stuck his hand in an electrical socket because that’s what it looked like most of the time. It was everywhere.
9 Dmitri Young
Dmitri Young’s afro lacks that quality that all other afros possess. The one that keeps it upright. It’s either that or it grew so much that it started to spread-out horizontally. The thing reaches to the edge of his shoulders while still managing to maintain its fluff and bounce. The afro was apparently so epic that former Nationals manager Manny Acta ordered Young to cut it off, saying it was a team distraction. Well, who wouldn’t take a few seconds to give this glorious fro’ a good look over? Not many of those out there today.
8 Josh Childress
Josh Childress looks good with an afro, plain and simple. Not many people can pull it off but his works in a way. Hell if he’d been a more popular player, he could’ve brought the style back. Everyone would’ve been walking around with what’s always seemed to be Mother Nature’s equivalent of a safety helmet and you would’ve had Josh Childress to thank. His afro isn’t really huge and it’s nothing too extravagant, but the little dome he’s built on top of his head certainly distinguishes him from a ton of other NBA stars.
7 Anderson Varejao
This entry is bound to generate some controversy. The opinion on Anderson Varejao’s hair is split among fans. Some consider it to be a fro while others are convinced that’s it’s more like dreadlocks. But, if it kind of sort of looks like an afro and it bounces like an afro, then it might as well be an afro. So here it is. However, in the sake of giving a more accurate description, Varejao’s hair looks more like a mop than anything else. Really the only thing holding it up is the hairband he wears. Otherwise he might as well be using it to mop the floor.
Willian Borges de Silva has kind of a Lenny Kravitz thing going on with his hair. The Brazilian soccer player was part of the national team that got completely destroyed by Germany in the World Cup last year. While that loss was tough to swallow, Brazilian fans could always turn to Willian to get a little boost. Well, no. Not really. It was terrible. They really should’ve ended it at like the fifth goal. It was like watching someone repeatedly hit a brick wall. At least, Willian’s still young. He’ll definitely get another shot at a World Cup. Hopefully he doesn’t grow out of his hair in the process.
5 Oscar Gamble
Ah the 70s, the decade where the afro came into prominence. Back then, it was actually stylish to have these masses of curls and hair sitting atop your head. No other baseball player that decade personified it better than Oscar Gamble. The former Major Leaguer didn’t enter the league with his trademark afro but the thing grew gradually over the course of his career. Have you ever seen a baseball card of this guy? His hair barely fits inside the frame.
4 Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace’s hair is another strange afro on this list that seems to hang a little too low for some people's liking. The former NBA star was constantly seen sporting a headband under his gigantic afro during games. Was it to keep his hair up or was it all just for style? Probably both. Like Varejao’s hair, Wallace’s afro seems to mop around in certain pictures but retains that bounce and shape that is all too synonymous with the famous hairdo. He’s also sported the cornrows, but he was always better off racking that 'fro.
3 Mike Commodore
Mike Commodore’s afro is the only one on this list that, at one point, has connected with his face. It’s not curly like other afros on this list. It’s actually more wavy than anything else. Add in the hair color and you’ve got a perfect replica of a bush fire. Commodore’s hair is so eye catching that even former President George Bush commented on its magnificence. It suits a tough player like Commodore well and the fact that most of his facial hair covers the entire outline of his face and the top part of his head is pretty impressive.
2 Randy Moss
Moss was a great receiver in the NFL and was known for making spectacular catches. He was also known for his clown-like demeanor and behavior. However, nothing made him look more like a clown than that ridiculous afro he sported for a while. It was as wild as he was and looked like something you’d find in the bargain bin after Halloween is over. “Afro Randy” might’ve been short-lived, but it’s still a look that managed to engrave itself into the minds of many sports fans.
1 Carlos Valderrama
The Colombian soccer player had a very fruitful career that lasted well into the 80s and 90s. But the one thing everyone will remember Carlos Valderrama is his huge, blonde afro. As curly as it was long, the whole thing swooned down to his shoulders and must’ve been really fun to watch when he was playing. A couple years back, he surprisingly outdid himself when he dyed his instantly recognizable blonde hair pink. Yup a messy, huge mop-like pink afro.