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The Best Actors Who Used To Be Professional Athletes

Athletes have a fairly short career to look forward to. Even the best of them are, usually, out of their game by the time they reach their early 40s. So, it should come as no surprise that some of the greatest athletes make the jump to the small screen. Here are our 10 favorites.

Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith Went From All American To Police Academy

Pt Tunes Zone

Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith was a twice all-American honors player and starred in “the Game of the Century,” too. Then, a few years later, he was a major star of the Police Academy series of movies.

Jason Lee Skated Into Dogma


This may be the most unusual sport on the list — Jason Lee was a professional skateboarder before he starred in Dogma and in The Incredibles.

Esther Williams Splashed Into Entertainment

The Daily Beast

Yup, before she became a world-famous star on That’s Entertainment, the inimitable Esther Williams was a world-class swimmer. Sadly, she missed out on the Olympics due to World War II.

Carl Weathers Scored With Rocky

Marmoset Music

Who’d have thought that Carl Weathers, professional footballer, would one day be starring opposite Sylvester Stallone in Rocky? Well, he did. He was also in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

Andre The Giant Wrestled Westley

Sick Chirpse

Sadly missed following his premature death, Andre The Giant’s professional wrestling days never ended and he starred in The Princess Bride in his downtime from the mat.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Was A Mr. Universe


Arnie’s bodybuilding was so good that he won Mr. Universe and then he went on to become The Terminator and to tangle with the Predator.

Lou Ferrigno Wasn’t Angry About Things

Muscle and Performance

Lou Ferrigno was, of course, a professional bodybuilder before he told the world “don’t make me angry” before transforming into the TV incarnation of Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk. 

Kurt Russell Walked Off The Diamond And Into Hollywood

Vanity Fair

Mr. Goldie Hawn, who would star in the cult-classic Escape From New York, was once a professional baseball player. The game’s loss was The Fox and The Hound’s gain.

Chuck Norris Turned His Game Into His Screen Career

New Ravel

It won’t come as a surprise that before he was Walker, Texas Ranger, Chuck Norris was a leading martial artist practicing Chun Kuk Do.

Sean Connery: A True Untouchable

Daily Record

He may be the most famous athlete turned actor in history. He was once a footballer and a bodybuilder. Then he was James Bond for several movies, he starred in The Untouchables, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Sean Connery is a god of the cinema.