Connect with us

Famous Actors Who Also Starred as Athletes

Famous Actors Who Also Starred as Athletes

Basketball

There are plenty of actors and actresses with athletic abilities and chiseled bodies who look like they should really be out on a field or court rather than acting like they are.

It doesn’t take an active imagination to guess that the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Terry Crews and Carl Weathers actually spent some time competing in various sports, but some of these names may surprise you.

Here are the Hollywood hot shots who also stood in the sports spotlight.

1. Burt Reynolds

Smokey and the Bandit, Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Boogie Nights … Yeah, Burt Reynolds is a legend. The craziest part about this Hollywood hunk’s unbelievable career is that it may have never even existed had it not been an unfortunate twist of fate during his playing days in college with the Florida State Seminoles.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA - CIRCA 1950: Burt Reynolds #46 of the Florida State University Seminoles poses in Tallahassee, Florida.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – CIRCA 1950: Burt Reynolds #46 of the Florida State University Seminoles poses in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photos by Florida State/ Collegiate Images via Getty Images) | Wikimedia Commons

Reynolds was a star football player in growing up in Florida. An outstanding high school career earned him numerous scholarships, but he chose to play at Florida State.

A standout halfback, Reynolds aspired to go pro until a knee injury in his sophomore season and car accident later that year left him with the difficult decision to pursue another passion.

2. Chuck Norris

The quickest way to a man’s heart is with Chuck Norris’s first. Watching anything involving the high-kicking martial artist – the star of the Walker, Texas Ranger series amongst a list of action movies – without dropping a Chuck Norris “facts” is borderline unacceptable. These jokes aren’t simply rooted in his various acting roles, however.

American martial artist Chuck Norris with Chinese American martial artist, actor, director and screenwriter Bruce Lee.

American martial artist Chuck Norris. (Photo by Concord Productions Inc./Golden Harvest Company/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) | Head shot by Staff Sgt. Tony Foster, Wikimedia Commons

Norris isn’t just some martial arts practitioner, he is a full-on guru. Earning a black belt in any discipline is a remarkable accomplishment. Norris has a collection: 9th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do, 8th degree black belt in taekwondo, 5th degree black belt in karate, 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and black belt in judo.

Oh yeah, he also invented the martial art Chun Kuk Do.

3. Terry Crews

Terry Crews and his titanium armor-looking body makes for a sight that evokes the same thought in all of us regarding his athletic endeavors, “It’d be a real shame if he didn’t use that blow up some opponents.”

Terry Crews attends the premiere of Disney's "Aladdin" at El Capitan Theatre on May 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage,)

Actor and former NFL player Terry Crews attends Madden NFL 12 Pigskin Pro-Am (Photo by Marc Stamas/Getty Images) | Terry Crews attends the premiere of Disney’s “Aladdin” at El Capitan Theatre on May 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)

Before Crews was laying down the law in blockbusters like The Expendables series and hit sitcoms like Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, he was laying out running backs and quarterbacks at the college and pro level.

Crews won a MAC championship during his time at Western Michigan before seeing action at the NFL level with the Rams, Chargers and Redskins.

4. Sean Connery

The one fun fact that we can all pin on Sean Connery is that he likes his martinis shaken, not stirred. Okay, that was his James Bond character. So, what do we know about the actual person and not just actor Sean Connery? It turns out he’s pretty much an action hero in real life too.

Actor Sean Connery holds up his Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for "The Untouchables" at the Academy Awards April 11, 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. The Academy Awards are prizes given out annually in Hollywood for excellence in film performance and production. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)

Actor Sean Connery holds up his Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar for “The Untouchables” at the Academy Awards April 11, 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. The Academy Awards are prizes given out annually in Hollywood for excellence in film performance and production. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)

A young Connery used to make the world swoon for more than his Bond-like charm. He was a competitive bodybuilder! That’s right, Connery’s physique was so impressive that he competed in the famous Mr. Universe competition. That piece of personal information leaves us shaken, not stirred.

5. Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson’s name did not become a household one until his later years thanks to the success of his A&E reality show, Duck Dynasty. It’s remarkable how full circle Robertson’s journey came, as the eccentric hunter’s decision to not pursue his shot at fame to continue hunting eventually led to his success.

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 06: Honorary Starter, reality TV personality Phil Robertson takes part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

FORT WORTH, TX – APRIL 06: Honorary Starter, reality TV personality Phil Robertson takes part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

The lifelong Louisianan played quarterback for Louisiana Tech on scholarship. Better yet, the starting QB was playing ahead of Steelers legend and future Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw.

Craziest of all, Robertson was reportedly offered a shot at playing for the Washington Redskins, but chose not to because it’d get in the way of his hunting!

6. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

If there was a human version of the Swiss Army knife, the prototype would be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Whatever Dwayne Johnson (the actor) touches turns to gold, which is like sitting through a full movie credits’ worth of just his name. But he was fast and furious on the football field, as well.

Defensive end Dwayne Johnson #94 of the University of Miami Hurricanes raises his arms as he and his teammates leave the field during the NCAA game against West Virginia University on November 20, 1993. Dwayne Johnson is also known as "The Rock" of World Wrestling Federation. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Dwayne Johnson attends the TIME 100 Gala Red Carpet at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME) | Defensive end Dwayne Johnson #94 of the University of Miami Hurricanes raises his arms as he and his teammates leave the field during a NCAA game. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Johnson got his big break wrestling in the WWF/WWE as “The Rock,” but his resume as an athlete dates back further. The Rock first began tossing bodies around as a football player and was a part of the iconic Miami Hurricanes 1991 National Championship team before a very brief stint in the CFL.

7. Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker has been spitting words of wisdom in countless classics on the silver screen for decades, but it was his second gig ever that gives us a glimpse into his past life. Whitaker’s role as a high school football player on Fast Times at Ridgemont High made for a seamless transition from his former reality.

Actor Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey attend the Premiere Of The Weinstein Company's "Lee Daniels' The Butler" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Actor Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey attend the Premiere Of The Weinstein Company’s “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Whitaker was a standout defensive tackle at Palisades Charter High School (Los Angeles, CA), enough so that he earned a scholarship from nearby California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Had it not been for an apparent back injury that led to a change in university, we may never have been gifted one of our favorite wise man of the movies.

8. Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon has been a staple character in numerous hit dramas, starring in such series as West Wing, NCIS and JAG. But before Harmon became a regular in Hollywood on the Red Carpet — and married the adorable Pam Dawber of Mork and Mindy fame — he was strutting his stuff elsewhere in Los Angeles.

 Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon and Television Start Mark Harmon, son of former Michigan player Tom Harmon celebrate the Michigan Football Legend status for the number 98 prior to the start of the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan defeated Notre Dame 41-30. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon and Television Start Mark Harmon, son of former Michigan player Tom Harmon celebrate the Michigan Football Legend status for the number 98 prior to the start of the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

After completing his associate degree at Pierce College in Los Angeles, Harmon transferred to nearby UCLA where he was the Bruins’ starting quarterback for two years. Harmon took a team coming off a dismal 2-7-1 season in 1971 and led the Bruins to an 8-3 and 9-2 record in the following years.

9. Sheryl Crow

As the crow flies, but as the Sheryl hurdles. Sheryl Crow is an accomplished musician who has won nine Grammy awards and sold over 50 million albums worldwide. She also gained a new level of fame for her high-profile relationship with disgruntled cyclist Lance Armstrong. But before she was rocking out on stages around the globe, Crow was flying high as a member of her track team.

Sheryl Crow participates in the St. Jude Country Music Marathon & 1/2 Marathon on April 28, 2012 in Nashville, Tennesse. (Photo by Handout/Getty Images via Lester Cacho Competitor Group) | Sheryl Crow portrait studio session at Splashlight Studios on August 23, 2013 in New York City. Her new album "Feels Like Home" releases on September 10, 2013. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Sheryl Crow participates in the St. Jude Country Music Marathon & 1/2 Marathon. (Photo by Handout/Getty Images via Lester Cacho Competitor Group) | Sheryl Crow portrait studio session at Splashlight Studios. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

At Kennett High School in Missouri, Crow was an all-state track star, medaling in the 75-meter low hurdles. While standing on the podium, Crow was sure to soak up some sun and the glory that comes with gold.

10. Emma Watson

Emma Watson stole all of our hearts as Hermione Granger in the big screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter literary series. Of course, Watson wasn’t just acting like a smarty pants on the screen. She demonstrated her brainiac abilities by earning her bachelor’s degree at the prestigious Ivy-League school, Brown University.

Actress Emma Watson

Actress Emma Watson (Photo by DVT/Star Max/GC Images)

Not only did Watson pull off the impressive feat of earning a college degree between her various acting roles, she played collegiate field hockey! The thought of an international star like Watson even having time to even attend a game as a fan seems improbable let alone competing with a one-sided hockey stick.

11. Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry, one of the stars of the iconic sitcom, Friends, was often in the headlines during the show’s heyday due to prescription addictions that led to repeated fluctuations in his weight. These dramatic changes in appearance likely paint a picture of a far more sedentary life than Perry has far different than the man Perry is.

Matthew Perry during The Cystic Fibrosis 19th Annual Celebrity Tennis Tournament To Fund Research Toward A Cure at Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach, California, United States. (Photo by John Heller/WireImage)

Matthew Perry during The Cystic Fibrosis 19th Annual Celebrity Tennis Tournament. (Photo by John Heller/WireImage)

A younger Perry not only played tennis competitively, he was nationally ranked! Perry was ranked as high as No. 17 in junior singles and No. 3 in junior doubles. The Ottawa native would reportedly put in up to 10 hours of practice a day! But as a tennis pro, Perry never went the Whole Nine Yards.

12. Jason Lee

Jason Lee is known to many as the mustachioed star of the hit television series My Name is Earl, while others know him from roles in ‘90s and ‘00s cult classic films like Mallrats. Before any of that, Lee first made a name for himself shredding.

HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 07: (L-R) Professional Skateboarders and Actors, Chris Pastras and Jason Lee attend the transworld skateboarding magazine's skate awards and 25th anniversary celebrations at the Avalon Hotel on June 7, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images for Transworld Skate Magazines)

Professional Skateboarders and Actors, Chris Pastras and Jason Lee attend the transworld skateboarding magazine’s skate awards. (Photo by Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images for Transworld Skate Magazines)

Lee’s passion for skateboarding is understandable, considering his Southern California roots based out of Huntington Beach. Skateboarding wasn’t just a passion, he was a legit pro skater through the ‘80s and early ‘90s with some serious moves.

His recurring roles in Kevin Smith’s “View Askewniverse” somehow makes much more sense knowing about his skater roots.

13. Jason Statham

What’s an action movie without our favorite Englishman anti-hero, Jason Statham? Before Statham came to be known by adrenaline film junkies as the age-defying, shredded, baddest bald dude ever to appear on the silver screen, he was crushing it as an athlete … and as a model. Shocker.

Model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (L) and actor Jason Statham attends the Burberry "London in Los Angeles." (Photo by David Buchan/Getty Images) | Actor Jason Statham and Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels co-star Jason Flemyng prepare to take a swim at the Tooting Bec Lido outdoor swimming pool while girlfriend, actress Kelly Brook, looks on with friends. (Photo by Scott Raftery/Getty Images)

Model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (L) and actor Jason Statham attends the Burberry “London in Los Angeles.” (Photo by David Buchan/Getty Images) | Actor Jason Statham and Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels co-star Jason Flemyng prepare to take a swim. (Photo by Scott Raftery/Getty Images)

While it’s reasonable to assume that Statham competed in a martial art, he was actually discovered thanks to his time as a competitive diver.

Video of Statham competing as a diver (1 m, 3 m, 10 m) in the 1990 Commonwealth gave a telling glimpse into the acrobatics he’d come to flaunt in countless fight scenes. Most eye-opening of all is the impressive mop Statham sported.

14. Dolph Lundgren

All right, so by no means should it come as any sort of surprise that Dolph Lundgren also has a history as an athlete. His iconic character as the larger-than-life Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV presents all the evidence we need.

Dolph Lundgren attends "Creed II" New York Premiere at AMC Loews Lincoln Square on November 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Actor Dolph Lundgren attends the Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do Karate Tournament to Benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)| Dolph Lundgren attends “Creed II” New York Premiere. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Lundgren, who is also famously known to have earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering – more brains and brawn than we can handle – is a third dan (sandan) black belt in Kyokushin karate. That’s not all. Lundgren set the bar in Kyokushin during his peak as a 2-time European champion (1980-81) and Australian champion (1982).

15. Ed O’Neill

Eat your heart out Homer Simpson, Ed O’Neill is the ultimate king of the couch TV dad. Before O’Neill’s fatherly role in Modern Family, he was the lovable loser living in his high school football glory days as Al Bundy on Married… with Children. What makes O’Neill’s role as a bitter shoe salesman, nostalgic of his “peak” years as an All-State quarterback for Polk High even better is that he was a legit stud on the gridiron!

Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara pose in the press room at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 29, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 29: Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara pose in the press room at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 29, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

O’Neill was talented enough at football in high school to earn a football scholarship to Ohio University.

After transferring to Youngstown State and finishing out his collegiate career as a defensive lineman, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed O’Neill as an undrafted free agent in 1969, though he was cut during training camp.

16. Gina Carano

Enjoying crazy fight scenes in action movies and actually participating in real life hand-to-hand combat are two very different things. For that reason, those less familiar with the whole “fighting for realsies” MMA thing may not know that Haywire and Deadpool star Gina Carano also professionally competed in combat sports.

MMA Superstar Gina Carano is seen during the Workout/Media Day with Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano at the Legends Mixed Martial Arts Training Center on September 17, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) | Gina Carano (Cara Dune) attends "The Mandalorian" panel at the Star Wars Celebration at McCormick Place Convention Center on April 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/WireImage for Disney)

MMA Superstar Gina Carano is seen at the Legends Mixed Martial Arts Training Center. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) | Gina Carano (Cara Dune) attends “The Mandalorian” panel at the Star Wars Celebration at McCormick Place Convention Center on April 14, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/WireImage for Disney)

Carano’s incredible 12-1-1 kickboxing record and 7-1 MMA record made her more than qualified to compete as the gladiator “Crush” on the TV series, American Gladiators. Whether it be in the octagon or on the big screen with Ryan Reynolds, Carano is a certified star wherever she takes her talents.

17. Joel McHale

Joel McHale developed into a big-time celebrity as the host of the wildly popular pop culture review show, The Soup. As for his acting chops, adoring fans most notably know him for his star role as Jeff Winger in the NBC hit comedy Community.

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 24: Actor Joel McHale, left, attends an NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on December 24, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 24: Actor Joel McHale, left, attends an NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals at CenturyLink Field on December 24, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

McHale has shed his shirt in various scenes, showing that he’s not only tall, but pretty fit too. Well, it turns out he’s more than just “pretty fit,” as McHale was a talented enough rower to be recruited out of high school.

Instead, McHale chose to join his friends at the University of Washington and put his 6’4” frame to use as a walk-on tight end with the Huskies.

18. Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck’s acting career is about as diverse as it gets, as the heartthrob acted in widely popular shows and movies like Magnum, P.I. to Friends to Three Men and a Baby. Selleck’s 6’4” frame also served him well on the court as a basketball player.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 29: Tom Selleck visits the Build Series to discuss his show "Blue Bloods at Build Studio on September 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 29: Tom Selleck visits the Build Series to discuss his show “Blue Bloods at Build Studio on September 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Selleck’s high school play was good enough to earn him a scholarship to USC where he would go on to play two seasons with the Trojans.

Though he didn’t much playing time, the fact that he managed to balance playing basketball, joining a fraternity and working as a model while earning a business degree is just plain ridiculous.

19. Joe Rogan

Joe Rogan is a stand-up comedian also known for his tenure as the UFC’s animated commentator. Others simply know Rogan as “the Fear Factor guy” or as Joe Garelli from the hit ‘90s sitcom, NewsRadio. For those who only know Rogan’s body of work outside the UFC, there’s good reason that this comic commentates fights.

UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor (L) of Ireland is interviewed by Joe Rogan after making weight during the UFC 194 weigh-in inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 10, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 11: UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor (L) of Ireland is interviewed by Joe Rogan after making weight during the UFC 194 weigh-in inside MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 10, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Before earning black belts in no-gi and gi jiu-jitsu as an adult, Rogan grew up training and competing in taekwondo competitions. He was a four-time Massachusetts state champion and winner of the 1987 taekwondo U.S. Open Championships at age 19!

After a brief run at amateur kickboxing, Rogan turned to metaphorically killing on stage rather than literally dropping bodies on floors.

20. David Duchovny

David Duchovny has starred in a plethora of great films and television shows, though he is most widely known for his Golden Globe performances as Fox Mulder on the out-of-this-world smash hit The X-FilesCalifornication and the 1990 cult classic, Twin Peaks.

David Duchovny dribbles a basketball 4th Annual Rock N' Jock Basketball Jam

David Duchovny dribbles a basketball (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Before Duchovny established himself as an acting phenom, he was flaunting his talents on the hardwood. Duchovny was the captain of his high school basketball team before playing for the JV team at Princeton.

Fun fact: Duchovny desperately wanted to play Woody Harrison’s character, Billy Hoyle, in White Men Can’t Jump and even auditioned for the part.

21. Uzo Aduba

Uzo Aduba may play her part as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Orange is the New Black almost a little too well, because it is just plain hard to picture her being, well, anything but crazy.

Before Aduba embarked on her career in theatre and film, however, her focus was on sports.

Uzo Aduba ran the 2015 Boston Marathon to support Bostons Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) | Uzo Aduba attends the 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Aduba was an incredible sprinter and one of Boston University’s top talents, running the 55, 100 and 200-meter dash. For a little perspective on just how fantastic her time at BU was, she had a personal best of 7.07 seconds in the 55-meter dash– that’s only .04 seconds shy of the school record.

22. Tony Danza

Don’t let the unassuming stature and quiet demeanor of Brooklyn’s Tony Danza fool you. America’s beloved star of Taxi and Who’s the Boss? only broke out onto the acting scene after he was discovered … in a boxing gym. Boxing wasn’t just Danza’s hobby, it was his profession.

Actors Tony Danza punches the speed bag during a work out at Gramercy Gym on April 20,1979 in New York, New York. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine via Getty Images)

Actors Tony Danza punches the speed bag during a work out at Gramercy Gym on April 20,1979 in New York, New York. (Photo by: The Ring Magazine via Getty Images) | Photo by John Mathew Smith, Wikimedia Commons

Hollywood’s 5’9” Italian Stallion was the real deal in the ring. Before turning to acting, Danza sported a 9-3 record as a pro with all but two of his wins coming in the first round!

The only tough part about playing a taxi driver and boxer in Taxi was that his character wasn’t very good.

23. Kurt Russell

Like many of us did growing up, Kurt Russell took after his father, Bing, in creating a similar career path. Except Russell followed his pops down two particularly unique professions that we could only dream. Russell’s acting career has blossomed from a heartthrob hero to a transcendent action star. He also played professional baseball just like pops.

Kurt Russell works out with the Vancouver Canadians baseball team, Minor League affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. (Photo by Christopher Morris/Corbis via Getty Images) | Kurt Russell attends the European Gala screening of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Russell already had plenty of acting roles under his belt by the time he decided to give professional baseball a try. His Minor League run, which began in 1971,  was no gimmick, however, as he lasted a few years playing at the Class A and Double-A level as a switch hitter.

24. Denzel Washington

Spike Lee’s 1998 film, He Got Game, starred NBA sharpshooter and first-ballot Hall of Famer Ray Allen. While Denzel Washington played the supporting role as the father of Jesus Shuttlesworth (Allen), many may not be aware that this was far from Washington’s first experience hooping with some real deal ballers.

Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers greets actor Denzel Washington by the Lakers' bench during a timeout in the game with the New York Knicks at Staples Center on March 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Knicks won 101-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers greets actor Denzel Washington by the Lakers’ bench. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Washington had some legit skills on the basketball court himself. In fact, when the New York native was attending Fordham University, he played for the Rams’ junior varsity basketball team under future Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo. Washington played two seasons (1972-74), boasting an 18-1 record in his sophomore season.

25. Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones has been in enough action and western movies for 10-15 lifetimes, but long before he was kicking alien butt Men in Black style with Will Smith, or tracking down the Fugitive, he was putting whooping human butt on the gridiron as a member of the Harvard Crimson football team.

Tommy Lee Jones #61 of the Harvard University Crimson poses. (Photos by Harvard/Collegiate Images via Getty Images) | Tommy Lee Jones during Mercedes-Benz ACE for a Cure Fashion Extravaganza. (Photo by John Parra/FilmMagic)

Jones played offensive guard from 1966-69 and earned first team All-Ivy League for an outstanding 1968 season. 1968 was really something special – after winning the Ivy League championship two years prior, Jones and the Crimson earned an undefeated to claim another conference championship. Jones also played in the famous Harvard comeback “victory” vs. Yale in 1968 that ended in a 28-28 tie.

26. Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan is first and foremost a stand-up comedian, but his countless film cameos and television appearances make him more than qualified to make the cut as an actor. But we cannot believe this funny man had his fair share of success as a college football player in the Big Ten.

Jim Gaffigan attends Big Apple Circus 2015 family benefit at Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center on November 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

Jim Gaffigan attends Big Apple Circus 2015 family benefit at Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center on November 21, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)

Gaffigan first attended Purdue and was talented enough to get a spot on the Boilermakers roster as a walk-on. After one year, Gaffigan transferred to Georgetown where he finished his collegiate football career with the Hoyas.

How Hot Pockets never signed him as their upside down Wheaties spokesman is truly a mystery.

27. Vinnie Jones

Those outside the U.K. may not know that Vinnie Jones has been a bad boy since long before appearing on the big screen. The Englishman’s signature tough guy character has made for classic roles like as the Juggernaut featured on classics like the Juggernaut in X-Men: The Last Stand and his legendary role as the crazy soccer firm leader in EuroTrip.

Chelsea player Vinnie Jones in action during a League Division One match between Coventry City and Chelsea at Highfield Road on November 2, 1991 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images) | Vinnie Jones during Lionsgate Special Cast and Crew Screening of 'The Condemned' at Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for LIONSGATE)

Chelsea player Vinnie Jones in action during a League Division One match. (Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images) | Vinnie Jones during Lionsgate Special Cast and Crew Screening of ‘The Condemned.’ (Photo by E. Charbonneau/WireImage for LIONSGATE)

Jones had the perfect experience to play the role of a crazed British soccer hooligan in EuroTrip, as he was a hard man on one of Britain’s most notoriously tough teams, Wimbledon FC’s “Crazy Gang.”

From bad boy on the pitch to bad boy in the pictures, Jones keeps on crushing it.

28. Carl Weathers

Carl Weathers dazzled on one of the biggest stages in boxing history as Apollo Creed in the classic Rocky series. It should be no surprise that the man who made up half of the manliest handshake in history has his own history as an athlete.

1977: Actors Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers perform boxing scene in movie "Rocky" directed by John G. Avildsen. "Rocky" won 3 Academy Awards. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

1977: Actors Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers perform boxing scene in movie “Rocky” directed by John G. Avildsen. “Rocky” won 3 Academy Awards. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Before putting up some big hits in his acting career, Weathers was laying down some big hits on the gridiron. No only did he play Division I football at for the San Diego State Aztecs, Weathers played a pair of NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders and spent a season in the Canadian Football League.

29. Lou Ferrigno

Okay, this one really doesn’t require an active imagination in any sense of the of word. Lou Ferrigno, who is quite literally built like the Hulk, took over our televisions playing just that in the 1970s on CBS’s The Incredible Hulk series.

1972: American bodybuilder and actor Lou Ferrigno, later star of 'The Incredible Hulk,' poses on stage, flexing his muscles as a teenage contestant in the Mr. America contest, New York City. (Photo by Denie/Getty Images) | Actor Lou Ferrigno arrives at Premiere Of Universal Pictures' "The Incredible Hulk" on June 8, 2008 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

1972: American bodybuilder and actor Lou Ferrigno, later star of ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ poses on stage in the Mr. America contest, New York City. (Photo by Denie/Getty Images) | Actor Lou Ferrigno arrives at Premiere Of Universal Pictures’ “The Incredible Hulk.” (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Before he was tearing off his shirt, getting mean and turning green , he was a professional body builder. (Well, he was still tearing his shirt off then too.)

The biggest difference from bodybuilding to acting as the Hulk for Ferrigno – who famously starred in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Pumping Iron – was swapping tanning lotion out for green paint.

30. Jason Segel

Jason Segel’s various comedic roles from sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother and Freaks and Geeks to his ridiculous character in films like I Love You, Man have made him a lovable teddy that we can’t get enough of.

Actually, he was pulling on heart strings in high school too.

Actors Cameron Diaz (L) and Jason Segel speak onstage during the 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Actors Cameron Diaz (L) and Jason Segel speak onstage during the 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The 6’4” Segel was a fan favorite on Harvard-Westlake School’s (Los Angeles, CA) basketball team. Although he served as the backup center, his springs earned him the title “Dr. Dunk” after winning a dunk contest. Segel’s team won back-to-back state championships in his time there.

Oh yeah, and the player he was backing up was former NBA center Jason Collins.

31. Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali had his breakthrough on the silver screen as a Juan in the film “Moonlight.” For his role, Ali won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Ali won a second Academy Award for his role in Green Book. What does all that mean? Ali is a great actor with a bright future ahead of him.

West Coast Conference via YouTube | Actor Mahershala Ali, winner of the award for Actor in a Supporting Role for 'Moonlight,' attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

West Coast Conference via YouTube | Actor Mahershala Ali, winner of the award for Actor in a Supporting Role for ‘Moonlight,’ attends the 89th Annual Academy Awards. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

However, Ali didn’t always plan on becoming an actor, and the path he took before that looked like it was going to be a slam dunk. After high school, Ali enrolled at Division I Saint Mary’s College but became disenfranchised with the treatment of athletes. Ali then made the pass of his life and ditched basketball for acting, a move that has worked out quite well.

32. Channing Tatum

You think Channing Tatum learned his moves for “Magic Mike” on set? Do you think Tatum was taught how to tackle while filming “21 Jump Street”? No, he didn’t. Tatum spent his formative years in Tampa where he starred on his high school’s football team. The man who was voted most athletic in his class then went onto play college football at Glenville State College in West Virginia.

Amber Heard and Channing Tatum arriving at the European Premiere of Magic Mike XXL in Leicester Square, London. (Photo by Zak Hussein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Amber Heard and Channing Tatum arriving at the European Premiere of Magic Mike XXL in Leicester Square, London. (Photo by Zak Hussein/Corbis via Getty Images)

College football, Tatum would soon find out, was not what he anticipated, and the scholarship athlete dropped out to return home where he took on odd jobs including stripping. From there, pole dancing turned into modeling gigs. Modeling gigs snowballed into small acting roles, and soon enough Tatum was starring in Hollywood blockbusters. Touchdown Tatum!

33. Josh Duhamel

Josh Duhamel was a stud with a cannon for an arm, and that cannon helped land him a job as the quarterback for Minot State University. Despite his best efforts, Duhamel wasn’t going to the NFL. Hardly anyone does from Minot State. So Duhamel did what everyone else would do in his position: transform himself.

Josh Duhamel as a football player in college, headshot of Josh Dumahel as an actor

joshduhamel via Instagram | Photo by Daniel Benavidas, Wikimedia Commons

Yes, Duhamel, one of the stars of the “Transformers” movie series, reinvented himself. After college, he became a model before transitioning to a different kind of job in front of the cameras. As an actor, Duhamel has starred in dozens of television and movie roles.

34. Jon Stewart

We can all agree that comic actor Jon Stewart is a good-looking dude who seems to – save for his gradually graying hair – defy the aging process. Still, it’s hard to imagine the longtime host of The Daily Show being active, as he spent over a decade sitting behind a desk.

TribeAthletics via YouTube | Jon Stewart hosts "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

TribeAthletics via YouTube | Jon Stewart hosts “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” #JonVoyage on August 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

Daly’s fantastic flow was likely right at home in his younger years, as the Comedy Central icon spent his undergraduate years on the pitch College of William & Mary’s soccer team. In fact, Stewart even scored a game-winning goal against the NCAA powerhouse Connecticut Huskies to win the ECAC Championship.

35. Sam Hunt

Sam “in the” Hunt wasn’t always the most loveable personality in country music. A standout high school quarterback, Hunt enrolled at Division I Middle Tennessee State University in 2003 and played there through the 2004 season. Upset with the limited amount of playing time he saw, Hunt transferred to the University of Alabama Birmingham where he started to make a bigger impact.

 Sam Hunt #3 of the UAB Blazers looks on during their game against the Georgia Bulldogs on September 16, 2006 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) | Recording artist Sam Hunt attends the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 4, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Sam Hunt #3 of the UAB Blazers looks on during their game against the Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) | Recording artist Sam Hunt attends the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards. (Photo by Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)

There at UAB is where Hunt also picked up a guitar for the first time, teaching himself how to play after practice. After graduating in 2007, Hunt tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs. Needless to say, he didn’t make the cut. So Hunt whipped out the trusty guitar and started throwing together some nice chords. Today, Hunt is one of the most recognizable names in country music.

Sources: ESPNFashionistaChicago TribuneSports ReferenceNY TimesNewsweekBUBaseball Reference,

Below average athlete. Irrationally confident fantasy manager. Competent benchwarmer.

More in Basketball