Athletes are - in essence - entertainers, much like musicians or movie stars, and therefore it is perhaps unsurprising that the most high-profile of them mix in the same circles as well-known celebrity figures. As such, a number of the friends of athletes on this list are from the music, movie or TV worlds. Some are sportspeople who are friends with other sportspeople that one wouldn’t expect, whilst others are just beyond the point of comprehension.
The most talented and well-known athletes in the world are celebrities in their own right, and many attend award ceremonies, parties and the like, with well-known celebrities. Having said that, there are a few friendships on this list where you are left a little bemused by how the individuals became close friends.
The strength of these various friendships is of course unknown. Some claim to be very close whilst others may only have been media stunts, but all have either met on multiple occasions or spoken of their relationship with one and another. Here are the 15 strangest friendships in sports:
15 Jordan Henderson & LeBron James
Premier League soccer player Jordan Henderson plays for Liverpool and England, but he is hardly a star of the world game. Yet when his campaign to appear on the front of the UK version of the video game ‘FIFA 16’ stepped up, it became clear that the midfielder had a plethora of high-profile friends, none more so than four-time NBA MVP, LeBron James.
The Cavaliers main man, ‘King James’, as he is often known, is well-known to be a Liverpool fan and has visited Anfield and had tours of the stadium, which is presumably where he met Henderson and became pally with the Liverpool captain. Henderson did win the vote to appear on the FIFA 16 cover, probably in no small part down to James’ support.
14 DeSean Jackson & TerRio
Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson and TerRio are an unlikely duo, but the pair came together in December 2013 whilst Jackson was starring for the Philadelphia Eagles, who topped the NFC East that campaign. Internet star TerRio and Jackson recorded a number of jovial vine-type videos which soon went viral and Jackson was even kind enough to take the youngster with him to the SuperBowl media events.
13 Pete Carroll & Will Ferrell
Pete Carroll spent eight years in charge at USC, from 2001 to 2009, while Will Ferrell enrolled at the university, studying sports broadcasting. You may be beginning to suss out the source of this friendship. In Carroll's time as USC head coach, Ferrell became a huge fan of his, and the pair began something of a bromance. Carroll is now a SuperBowl winning coach and executive vice president of the Seattle Seahawks. In a way, it kind of makes sense, as both act well younger than their actual age.
12 David Beckham & Tom Cruise/Gordon Ramsey
After five years living in L.A. and as one of the most recognizable faces in the world, David Beckham has made friends with a number of the planet’s great and good, and could probably fill this list on his own. However, Beckham’s most well-reported and closest celebrity friendship has been with movie star and Scientologist Tom Cruise. The Golden Globe winner threw a party to welcome the Beckham’s to L.A. in 2007 and they haven’t looked back since, with Cruise even stating his intention to star alongside Becks in a film. Beckham has also had a friendship with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey since the Scotsman catered for David and Victoria at a party.
11 John Calipari & Drake
It is well-known that Drake is a big sports fan, and you will often see the camera pan to his face at some of the biggest sports events in the U.S. and Canada. The rapper and songwriter appears to have a particular passion for basketball though, and he appears to have formed a real friendship with Kentucky head coach John Calipari. The two first met at a Wildcats game and Calipari even sent Drake a custom National Championship ring after the sides success in 2012.
10 Floyd Maywether Jr. & Justin Bieber
The friendship of Floyd Maywether Jr. & Justin Bieber is both bizarre and wholly unsurprising, if that is possible. It is bizarre because Bieber is an artist whose fanbase is largely made up of teenage girls, whilst Mayweather is a boxing world champion who is almost twice Bieber’s age. The friendship was supposedly born out of Mayweather’s daughters desire to meet Bieber. The Canadian superstar carried Mayweather’s belt into the ring for his recent victory over Manny Pacquaio.
9 Lionel Messi & Kobe Bryant
The best soccer player on the planet, one might suspect Messi would have a number of friends in high-up places, but he is not really that kind of person. Messi spends a lot of his free time with his family, whether in Barcelona or in his native Argentina. The four time Ballon d’Or winner does seem to have an exception though, that being his friendship with NBA star Kobe Bryant.
8 Joe Hart & 50 Cent
A recently-born friendship, English goalkeeper Joe Hart and now-bankrupt rapper 50 Cent met in June this year, while Hart was on holiday in the U.S. Fiddy took to Instagram to share his new-found friendship with the Manchester City goalkeeper, captioning a photo of the pair with 'Me and my man Joe Hart [...] we do it BIG'. Just how big 50 and Joe did it we don't know, but it's certainly the oddest sports friendship of 2015 so far.
7 Cristiano Ronaldo & Lil Wayne
Cristiano Ronaldo will undoubtedly be delighted to find himself ahead of Lionel Messi once more, as he has been in the last two Ballon d'Or awards. Ronaldo, or CR7 as he is now often known as, has battled out for the title of world's best with the little Argentine for more than five years now. Ronaldo is a little more 'showy' than his Barcelona counterpart, and his been pictured with a number of high-profile celebs, but perhaps the most unusual is rapper Lil Wayne. The Portugal winger was said to be considering signing up with Wayne's newly-formed Sports Management Agency this time last year but nothing came of it.
6 Serena Williams & Kim Kardashian
The papers delighted to print the title 'Battle of the Booties' when they discovered that tennis superstar and well, I'm not quite sure what she does, but famous person Kim Kardashian were pals. They are not characters that one would immediately pair up, but that hasn't stopped Serena and Kim forming a budding friendship which was most recently spotted in London in June of this year, although it is believed that the pair first met in L.A. in 2013.
5 Mike Tyson & Evander Holyfield
Okay, so two former American world heavyweight champions being friends may not appear that strange, but when you consider that one of them bit the other one’s ear off, you can understand why this friendship makes fifth place. Real Deal Holyfield surely deserves some credit for still remaining affable with Tyson. They say forgive and forget but that is easier said than done when you lose a chunk of your ear. The two even recorded a commercial for Footlocker mocking the infamous incident.
4 Robert Kraft & Jay Z
It is no great surprise that Jay Z is friends with a number of high-profile sportsmen, but what might come as more of a shock is his friendship with business magnate and billionaire Robert Kraft. The American businessman is the CEO of the Kraft Group, but his sporting roles include ownership of the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution, in the NFL and MLS respectively. In 2013, Kraft was pictured hanging out with the rapper and his partner Beyonce, and they were spotted together once more this year, after Kraft attended a Grammy's 'brunch'.
3 Pele & Mick Hucknall
The greatest soccer player of all time, that is the title that commonly accompanies Pele, not friend of the former lead singer of Simply Red, yet the two are friends. Pele is the only man in history to have won three World Cups and is widely regarded, along with Diego Maradona, to be the greatest player to have ever played the game.
Mick Hucknall is a singer-songwriter who sold over 50 million records with Simply Red, largely in the 1980s. The pair first met in 1985 and remain friends to this day, with Hucknall even singing for his friend Pele, the Brazil legend in 2013.
2 Paul Gascoigne & Raoul Moat
Perhaps nothing that Paul Gascoigne, or 'Gazza' as he is more commonly known, does should come as a surprise anymore. The former England star has had many demons with drinking, cocaine, bipolar and other issues, but he still managed to surprise the British public when he leapt to the defense of notorious cop-killer Raoul Moat, who was on the run from the police at the time. Gazza actually arrived on the scene of the clash between police and Moat, who had shot four policemen and killed two, saying that he was a friend of Moat's and that he had brought his friend a can of lager, some chicken and a fishing rod.
1 Dennis Rodman & Kim Jong-Un
Not too dissimilar to Gazza, with Rodman, the bizarre is almost routine. His acquaintance with Russian leader Vladimir Putin could quite easily have made this list, but it is his 'friendship' with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un which sees him claim top spot. Gaining access to North Korea is hard work, particularly for an American, never mind meeting the supreme leader. Kim Jong-Un is well-known to be a basketball fan and was delighted to welcome Rodman to the country, and give him a restricted tour of Pyongyang.