Uzo, Ashanti, Mahershala And Other Celebs Who Were Star Athletes Before They Were Stars

January 22, 2018  |  
1 of 11

uzo aduba encourages individuality

WENN

Uzo Aduba does one hell of a job playing Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Orange is the New Black, but way before she was winning Emmys for her role, she was winning scholarships and recognition for her talent in sports. The 36-year-old was quite the talented ice skater growing up, and she shared video of herself on the ice on Instagram recently:

Aduba also received a scholarship to sprint at Boston University. And while she was no joke on ice or on the track, Aduba said playing sports actually helped her prepare herself for the successful acting career she has now.

“I think playing sports, and the preparation of sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, on any given Sunday can be your day — [that] really prepared me for being out here to pursue this,” she told Stephen Colbert. “I’m grateful to have done it, because it’s been amazing.”

Aduba is one of many stars to go from competitive sports to Hollywood. Check out 10 other stars with some serious talent, not only in acting and music, but in athletics, too.

WENN

Amanda Seales

Prior to doing stand-up comedy and acting on a hit show like Insecure, Amanda Seales was a competitive gymnast for six years:

WENN

Keri Hilson

The “Pretty Girl Rock” singer was into all sorts of sports growing up, including swimming. She swam competitively in Atlanta, was part of an all-African American squad and represented the state of Georgia at junior national championships when she was 14.

“I was pretty good,” Hilson told Billboard. “I’m really proud of the exposure I got to swimming, and I just want to give that back to others in my community.”

Gabrielle Union WCW

WENN

Gabrielle Union

You might think that Union was so good in Bring It On that she was probably a cheerleader at one point in her life. Nope!

Instead, the 45-year-old played soccer at the University of Nebraska on the school’s club soccer team.

Ashanti

WENN

Ashanti

“I ran track ever since the eighth grade,” Ashanti told USA Today about her abilities in both track and field. “I got two scholarship offers, and I actually got scouted by the Olympics.”

Her best event ended up being the triple jump.

“I’m in the Hall of Fame at my school for triple jump,” she said, “and that’s with no formal training.”

Mahershala Ali Oscars

WENN

Mahershala Ali

The Oscar winner was talented enough at basketball that he received a scholarship to play at St. Mary’s College, and it was there that he was encouraged to give acting a try.

“It was about getting a basketball scholarship to a Division I school. Once I got that, I didn’t set a realistic next goal on how to get to the NBA, which is perhaps for the best,” Ali told GQ. “I fell into acting. A teacher gave me an opportunity to be in a play and it came a little easy to me. When it got difficult was when I decided to study acting and I went to grad school. I felt like if I got [into NYU] this was what I was supposed to pursue. It just so happened that it worked out.”

WENN.com

2 Chainz

The talents of 2 Chainz on the basketball court, born Tauheed Epps, have been thoroughly discussed for some time. The 40-year-old was lauded for his talents at North Clayton High School in Georgia (see video below, he was no. 21) and actually received a scholarship to play at Alabama State, where he played briefly.

Trevante Rhodes

Getty

Trevante Rhodes

If it weren’t for running, we might not have been rewarded the chance to be graced with Trevante Rhodes’s beauty.

According to Texas Monthly, while Rhodes was running track for the University of Texas, he was discovered when out for a jog on the Austin campus and was encouraged to audition for an acting opportunity. He didn’t get that particular role, but as we know, things worked out quite well for the actor.

Getty

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

You’ve probably heard about this one. Dwayne Johnson played for the University of Miami while in college, even going as far as to win a national championship with the team in 1991. While he didn’t get into the NFL, Johnson played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League before being cut in 1995 and pursuing a professional wrestling career.

Getty

Omari Hardwick

He may be a talented poet and actor, but Omari Hardwick can also do some damage on the football field. The Power star was a defensive back at the University of Georgia, where he received a football scholarship. Once his college career ended, Hardwick wasn’t lucky enough to be drafted in the NFL, but he’s been able to have a successful acting career and not have to put his body through the wringer. Score!

terry crews perpetrator identified

WENN

Terry Crews

As huge as Terry Crews is, it only makes sense that he played football professionally. The 49-year-old received a scholarship to play football at Western Michigan University as a defensive end, and won awards for his work on the field. He also was so good that he was drafted into the NFL, eventually playing for the Rams (when they were in Los Angeles), San Diego Chargers, Washington Redkins and even competing in the World League of American Football with the Rhein Fire team in Europe.

Trending on MadameNoire

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN