Have you ever wondered what your favorite athletes do when they’re not on the court, on the field, or in the rink? Some of the best athletes are far from one-trick ponies and have hidden talents you’d never expect. From the NFL star who is also a skilled ballet dancer to the NBA pro who has a passion for journalism, any sports fan will be surprised by these athletes’ hidden talents.
John Denney Can Play the Violin
John Denney is a long snapper for the Miami Dolphins. But, what most people might not know is that he’s also a violinist. The two-time Pro Bowler has been playing the instrument for 30 years!
When Denney was just five years old, his mom told him that if he wanted to play sports, he had to learn a musical instrument. Even though the first few years playing violin were out of obligation instead of pleasure, he kept with it. Today, Denney doesn’t have any regrets as he now uses his musical talent to play at dinner parties, churches, and even weddings.
A.J. Green Can Juggle More Than One Ball
The Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver can do more than just throw around a football. Green is known for his talent for juggling too. Teammates often request the Pro Bowler to perform juggling routines in the locker, something that seems to boost the morale of the team.
Apparently, Green has more than one trick up his sleeve. Back in college when he played for Georgia, he had all sorts of ways to show off his skills — like juggling bowling pins while riding a unicycle. No big deal.
Vernon Davis Is Quite Artistic
Vernon Davis was one of the greatest tight ends the NFL has seen over the past decade. But off the field, Davis is a skilled artist with the credentials to prove it. He attended the University of Maryland and majored in Studio Arts while playing for the Terrapins football team.
Davis, along with brand manager Antone Barnes, actually started their own business. Together, they co-founded an interior design company called Modern Class Design. Whenever he’s not playing football, he’s working with his charity: The Vernon Davis Foundation.
Bronson Arroyo Can Play The Guitar
Bronson Arroyo didn’t pick up the guitar until he was 22 years old. After winning the World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004, the pitcher recorded his debut album, Covering the Bases. Songs included covers from bands such as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, and Incubus.
The album also includes Boston’s victory song “Dirty Water” by The Standells, in which Johnny Damon and Kevin Youkilis accompany their teammate. He also taught teammate Kevin Millar how to play the guitar and performed vocals for the song “Tessie” as covered by the Dropkick Murphys.
Paul George Won a Fishing Tournament
After a few early playoff exits, Paul George likes to set out on the water to enjoy his favorite pastime — fishing. The All-Star is an avid fisherman and loves nothing more than casting a reel and relaxing.
George even uses fishing as a tool for team-building, often bringing teammates out on the water to escape the madness of being in the NBA. Despite not having an NBA championship to his name, George certainly has the accolades for his second favorite sport. In 2015, he won his first ever fishing tournament, catching 20.17 pounds of bait.
Novak Djokovic Loves to Cook
Not only can the tennis star play a big game, but he can also cook one too. The Olympian is an excellent cook, whose skills are tailored towards self-preservation and well-being. In 2013, the Serbian native released the cookbook Serve To Win, but it’s more than just recipes.
Within its pages are the Djokovic’s autobiography, a self-help guide to life, and a 14-day gluten-free plan that he’s crafted throughout his career. Djokovic’s goal is to help others improve their mental and physical excellence. Judging by the top-ranked tennis star’s resume, there could be room for a second book to be released.
C.J. McCollum Asks the Tough Questions
C.J. McCollum is skilled on the court and in the newsroom. The Portland Trail Blazer has a passion for journalism — his major while at Leigh University. The former NBA Most Improved Player values his education, believing that all student-athletes should finish school before turning professional.
The shooting guard has written about the NBA for numerous different websites and even worked as an intern for The Players Tribune during the draft week in 2016.
Robin Lopez Loves to Doodle
Robin Lopez is one big guy on the basketball court. Whenever he’s not playing the sport he loves, Lopez has a way to take out his frustrations. While he’s known for picking on mascots, the McDonald’s All-American carries a pen and doodle pad everywhere he goes.
He even posts some of his illustrations on his Instagram account, which look really impressive. His love for drawing goes beyond just doodling though. He’s admitted that if he wasn’t playing in the NBA, he would pursue a career in designing and drawing cartoons.
Zach Hyman Writes Children’s Books
Outside of playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Zach Hyman uses his talents to inspire many by writing children’s books. The books target a younger demographic as it sends out messages of determination, teamwork, and believing in yourself. His award-winning children’s book, The Bambino and Me, earned a starred Kirkus Review.
His second book, Hockey Hero, was released in October 2015 and tells the story of a shy hockey player who overcomes playing in his brother’s shadow. His latest book, The Magician’s Secret was released in April 2018 and was nominated for the Blue Spruce award by the Ontario Library Association.
Henrik Lundqvist & John McEnroe Love Jamming Out
Both Henrik Lundqvist and John McEnroe are well-known in their respective sports. Outside of both athletes being Olympians, they also share a common passion for music. The goalie and tennis star are good friends and longtime jamming pals. Both men are guitar enthusiasts and use music as an outlet to escape the pressures that come with being a professional athlete.
Together, they formed the band The Noise Upstairs, playing at several charity events. Even before they were a band, Henrik got on stage on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to rip into “Sweet Child O’Mine” with The Roots.
Shaq Had Skills Off the Court
There was a time when the Big Diesel dunked so hard that the net came crashing down. When he was younger, Shaq had an interesting endeavor which saw the basketball star test the waters of a rap career. He flexed his skills behind the microphone and released five studio albums and one compilation album altogether.
O’Neal was featured alongside Michael Jackson as a guest rapper on “2 Bad,” a song from the King of Pop’s album HIStory.
Connor McGregor Can Do More Than Just Fight
The most successful and dominant MMA fighter enjoys sculpting animals out of paper. The Irishman’s talent surfaced during a Heineken beer campaign in which they had Irish athletes display their “secret talents.” The commercials carried a slogan that read “Everybody is legendary at something.”
The campaign was an open offer to the public to send in videos of whatever their interesting talents may be. As a result, they proved just how delicate one of the most intimidating competitors in sports can be. They reminded everyone the most famous people are just like you and me.
Kobe Bryant Wants to Perfect the Piano
The Black Mamba has an extreme work ethic both on and off the court. Kobe Bryant has a strong interest in music as he taught himself how to play the piano. The Laker great’s obsessive personality led him to learn 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,’ there’s not really much out there that you can’t figure out eventually.” For Bryant, listening to or playing the song calms him down — especially when he feels he’s going to reach his breaking point.
Tuukka Rask Can Drum
The Boston Bruins goaltender started playing drums when he was 10 years old. After a hiatus, the Vezina Trophy winner picked up the sticks again when he began playing in the NHL.
One night, when the Boston Bruins had a road game in Buffalo, the goalie was out with teammates the night before the game. Rask politely asked the band, The Mustn’ts, if he could get up and jam with them. Thankfully, the band agreed, playing their rendition of Phish’s “Back on the Train.”
Russell Westbrook Has a Passion for Fashion
There’s something different about Russell Westbrook both on and off the court. Not only is he a freak of nature, but he’s got a unique personality that’s like no other. The Oklahoma City star has a passion for fashion, leading to a collaboration with the luxury department store, Barney’s.
Additionally, Russ has released his own line of eyewear called Westbrook Frames. In February 2015, the eight-time All-Star was named the Marketing Creative Director of the denim brand True Religion. In 2018, he introduced the clothing collection Inner City, an ode to Westbrook’s upbringing in Los Angeles.
Ray Allen Is an Actor
In 1998, Ray Allen co-starred alongside Denzel Washington in Spike Lee’s He Got Game. For his performance, Roger Ebert praised the basketball star as a rarity for being an athlete who can act. His role as Jesus Shuttlesworth earned him a nickname from teammates and fans.
But, that wasn’t the only acting credit the NBA champion would receive. Allen appeared as Marcus Blake in the 2001 film Harvard Man. In 2015, Allen co-starred alongside Kyrie Irving, Baron Davis, and J.B. Smoove in an episode of the webcast series Uncle Drew.
Tim Duncan Could Have Been an Olympic Swimmer
The former San Antonio Spur had the prototypical swimmers body and thrived in the water. At the age of 13, after completing in 400-meter style events, Duncan was nationally ranked in the United States. That ranking could have been enough for him to be an Olympic swimmer, but instead, he decided to switch the speedo for the shoes.
In 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit St.Croix and destroyed the only public swimming pool on the island. This forced the future Hall of Famer to train in the ocean. He would lose his enthusiasm for swimming because of his fear of sharks.
Justin Tucker Is an Oprea-Singing Kicker
In high school, the kicker was given a choice: pick playing the trumpet or go play football. Both weren’t an option for the Super Bowl Champion. He would make a wise choice by sticking with football but he never dropped his love of music, which includes singing opera.
He took several months of voice lessons and auditioned for the Butler School of Music. In addition to being an opera singer, his talents led him through the finale of the Most Valuable Performer, a talent show featuring performances of NFL players, where he won with his rendition of ‘Ave Maria.’
Serena Williams Can Sew
Power, intimidation, and skill define tennis superstar Serena Williams. But off the court, Serena loves to flex a different skill entirely. The tennis pro loves to sew and design clothes. While this hobby initially began as a fun way for Williams to destress, it’s blossomed into something much bigger.
In the past, Williams collaborated with the likes of HSN and Nike to launch clothing collections. But in 2018, she launched her own fashion line called ‘Serena.’
Steve McLendon Is a Ballet Dancer
The last hobby you’d expect from a football player is…ballet. But Steven McLendon isn’t afraid to put on his ballet slippers and strut his stuff. McLendon doesn’t wear a tutu, but the 310-pound defensive tackle has been taking ballet classes on and off since 2009. The former Pittsburgh Steeler enrolled in his first class during his senior year at Troy University.
McLendon credits ballet for helping him to stay balanced and safeguard his body from wear and tear.