Elite athletes have to give so much of their time and energy to their sport that many believe they don’t do much if anything else. There’s only so much time in the day for other activities when you’re a high-profile athlete. However, the reality of life is that they need other interests to keep them sane. Like any human, they’ll start hating life otherwise.
So today, we’re going to take a look at athletes with interests in other areas that you might not expect. Some of them are talented at other sports and could have gone in a different direction had they wanted to. But others are just totally random, and that’s what makes them incredibly entertaining. Check out the list below.
25. Todd Marinovich
Marinovich is one of the most infamous personalities in NFL history. The former USC Trojan and Los Angeles Raiders quarterback had a bizarre upbringing. In short, his father brought him up as a football ‘test-tube’ baby. It was mildly psychopathic of him. Of course, it ended with Marinovich going off the rails and becoming addicted to drugs.
This downward spiral ended his playing career, but he ended up cleaning up his act after finding his true passion. He is now a professional artist and has an online catalog of his works. Marinovich has had a couple of relapses over the years, but still continues to use art as a healing mechanism.
If you’re a baseball player, then you need to have at least one functioning arm. Zumaya was a pitcher with a phenomenally powerful right arm. He regularly pitched at speeds of over 100mph. The former Detroit Tiger was prone to injury and retired after Tommy John surgery.
But one of Zumaya’s worst injuries came as a result of playing Guitar Hero. That’s right, he was playing it compulsively during the 2006 offseason. We’re guessing that he racked up some high scores. He’d have wanted to because that’s one of the strangest injuries we’ve ever heard about.
Alonso is one of the world’s great motorsport athletes. He’s a two-time Formula One Champion with Renault but currently drives for Ferrari. The Spaniard is also a great endurance driver. Alonso is a two-time Le Mans champion as well as winning the 24 Hour Daytona challenge in 2019.
But did you know that Alonso is also a massive fan of magic? He’s able to do multiple card tricks and illusions. Even today, he continues to perform his skills at parties and for his friends. Alonso credits his parents with getting him into driving and magic tricks. That’s parenting done right.
There is only one Zlatan. That’s probably a good thing because the big Swede has enough personality for an entire team of soccer stars. The former LA Galaxy striker just departed the MLS. Ibrahimovic has lit up the big leagues with a number of mega teams like Barcelona, PSG, and Inter Milan.
One of the most amazing things about Ibrahimovic is his athleticism. He’s got an incredible leap and is also very flexible. This comes from the fact that he has a black belt in Taekwondo. As a teenager, he practiced martial arts in his native Sweden. ‘Ibra’ still loves the Korean national sport.
Sorenstam is one of the best female golfers in history. The Swede has won 10 majors and is the winner of a record eight Player of the Year awards. She also tops the LPGA’s career money list with earnings of over $22 million. That’s over $2 million ahead of her nearest rival, while playing 149 fewer events.
The Swedish golf superstar has another passion. She can’t stay out of the kitchen. Sorenstam loves cooking so much that she actually started her own catering company. The Swede has even occasionally completed eight-hour shifts in restaurants. Now that’s dedication.
Recently retired, Fyre is an NBA champion with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also played for the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns and the LA Lakers. This power forward was also an All-American in college. But Frye spent a lot of time on the sidelines with injury. So he decided to put it to good use.
During his rehab, he became obsessed with World of Warcraft. He became well-known in the community and had two characters over level 80. He even played in a guild with fellow basketball players Tim Duncan and Andrei Kirilenko.
This Everton winger is one of the fastest men in soccer. Walcott’s pace is a thing of legend. But his lack of end product has been the source of criticism. Meanwhile, his injury record prevented him from becoming established at Arsenal. Despite this, he’s still a top player and a man of many talents.
Walcott has actually written a series of children’s books. They’re based on his own experience as a young player. This isn’t just a gimmick, as they’ve goten good reviews from the likes of The Guardian newspaper in the UK. Walcott is inspiring children on and off the playing field.
The father of elite boxer Vitaly Lomachenko forced his son to study traditional Ukrainian dance to improve his footwork. Can you imagine an NFL star doing the same thing with ballet? Walker actually studied ballet during his time at the University of Georgia, where he would go on to become a College Hall of Famer.
In short, his fancy footwork must have helped him throughout a lengthy NFL career. He played for the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants. Then he made the step into MMA, winning two fights under the Strikeforce banner.
The former Denmark international is most famous for starring for Liverpool in the Premier League. A classy center-back, this soccer star was excellent on the ball and capable of scoring exceptional long-range efforts. However, his injury-record stifled his career at the highest level. He’s still a cult hero at Anfield, though.
Soccer isn’t Agger’s only talent. A single glance at the Danish star’s body should tell you that he likes tattoos. He has a massive Viking-inspired back piece that sprawls across his body. But he doesn’t just go under the needle. Agger is also a trained and qualified tattoo artist.
almost everybody knows who Nash is. One of the greatest NBA stars ever to grace us with his presence on a basketball court, Nash is an eight-time All-Star. Incredibly, the two-time MVP never managed to win a championship. But make no mistake, he was a genius with a ball in his hands.
However, basketball wasn’t even Nash’s original love. No, his heart belonged to soccer and he believes that he could have played professionally if he had of focused on the game. To this day he’s friends with several soccer stars including Alessandro Del Piero and Owen Hargreaves. He also trained with the New York Red Bulls to stay fit in the off-season.
A three-time NBA All-Star, Williams is a solid basketball player. Currently a free agent, he’ll be hoping that another club picks him up soon. Williams is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist with the US national team. But basketball is not the only sport that this elite athlete loves.
Williams is a massive fan of cliff-diving. In fact, he loves the dangerous extreme sport so much that he had a clause inserted in his contract that allowed him to do it. Typically, NBA franchises want to prevent their athletes from doing anything dangerous. Jumping off a cliff would definitely come under that bracket.
For a long time, Bolt was the fastest man on the planet. The Jamaican broke a ridiculous number of world records and won eight Olympic gold medals. For this reason, he’s widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all-time. Bolt is a superstar, but running isn’t his only sporting interest.
No, Bolt dreamed of being a professional soccer player. After he retired from professional athletics, he decided to try and achieve this. In 2010, he trained with Australian A-League side Central Coast Mariners and played in a friendly for the club. Bolt scored twice in the match but chose not to pursue a career in the sport.
Stackhouse is currently the head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores. The two-time NBA All-Star had an excellent career, playing for the Dallas Mavericks and the Brooklyn Nets. He spent 18 seasons in the NBA and developed a reputation as a fan favorite.
One of the reasons for his popularity was because of his sublime singing talent. Stackhouse has a superb voice. He performed the US national anthem multiple times throughout his career. Of course, he got a warm reception each time he sang in front of millions across the globe.
Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. But did you forget that he also played baseball? The six-time NBA champion became disillusioned with life on the court after the death of his father. He decided to quit and become a professional baseball player instead, playing in the minor leagues for the Birmingham Barons.
However, after a year on the field, he chose to come back to basketball and picked up where he left off. The five-time NBA MVP was always best playing on the court. A 14-time All-Star, Jordan is one of the most iconic NBA players in the history of the sport.
The first British UFC champion, Bisping is incredibly popular with fans. He’s down-to-earth, funny, and never shy to give his honest opinion on any situation. ‘The Count’ was a very solid standup fighter with sublime cardio. Bisping famously knocked out Luke Rockhold on two weeks’ notice to win the UFC middleweight title.
But it could have been so much different. Bisping actually worked as a DJ as a young man when he was trying to pay his bills. He played a number of underground clubs and raves in the northwest of England before finally going full-time as an MMA fighter.
One of the greatest NBA power forwards ever, ‘The Mailman’ is also a trucker. Yes, that’s right, he owns his own logistics company and even gets behind the wheel himself to drive all over the US. We’re talking about the big units too. The Utah Jazz legend drives a 72-foot, 34,000-pound 18-wheeler.
A 14-time All-Star, if Malone takes his basketball talents to the highways of the USA, he’ll be one of the best in the business. Malone is also a two-time NBA MVP as well as an 11-time NBA First Teamer. The main problem that he faces as a truck driver is actually fitting in the vehicle. At 6′ 9″ and 250lbs, that’s no joke.
Taylor is the pound-for-pound best women’s boxer on the planet. Soft-spoken and unassuming, the Irishwoman is a different person when she climbs into the ring. Her hand speed and technical speed are as good as any fighter’s on the planet. She’s the unified lightweight champion of the world and also holds the WBO junior welterweight title.
However, her talents go further beyond boxing. She’s also played as a soccer player and is a full Irish international. Taylor has won 11 caps for her country, scoring two goals in the process. Finally, she retired because the risk of injury on the playing field was too dangerous for her career as a boxer.
Moving from the NBA to pinball is totally natural, right? Ok, no, it’s not, but it’s a transition that McCulloch has made easily. It looked like he was on course to have a fantastic career in basketball, but then a neuromuscular disorder in his feet forced him to retire. It was a shame, but McCulloch had a backup plan.
This man adores pinball. To sum up, he loves it so much that he has 60 pinball machines in his house. He won the 2011 Pinball Expo in Chicago, beating world champions in the process. According to McCulloch, it gives him the same rush of excitement as playing basketball. We’ll take his word for it.
This elite curler might be the most Scottish woman on the planet. Muirhead was a bronze medalist in Sochi and the 2013 World Champion. She has represented Team Great Britain at three separate Games. As well as being an experienced Winter Olympian, she’s a brilliant bagpiper.
Muirhead actually owns a set of bagpipes worth close to $5000. She has appeared at four World Championships and plays at teammates’ weddings. This Scottish star is also excellent at golf. She turned down scholarships to two US colleges so that she could continue curling for Team GB.
The former UFC welterweight champion is one of the hardest hitters on the roster. If you get punched by ‘T-Wood,’ then the chances are you’re staying down. Furthermore, he’s one of the greatest 170-pound champions of all-time with four successful defenses. In short, Woodley is a bad man.
But he’s also got some other talents. Woodley has a serious interest in rap music and even released his own album. Unfortunately, the release of ‘Chaos Theory’ came just after losing his belt to Kamaru Usman, so it definitely didn’t help him in terms of sales.
Jones is a former NFL defensive end who enjoyed a fantastic career. He won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in 1996. The two-time All-Pro also played for the Houston Oilers and the LA Raiders. While he’s definitely not the most famous former football star out there, his post-athletic career is fascinating.
He retired to become a stockbroker and to work in real estate. However, a scandal involving his client Ebenezer Ekuban caused him to go broke. Later he counter-sued and made his money back. Jones also worked as a color commentator on FOX Sports. The man has many talents.
Current Leicester City manager notoriously called Joe Allen ‘the Welsh Xavi.’ Unfortunately, the current Stoke City soccer star was never able to live up to that name. He’s still a very intelligent and tidy player though, with over 50 caps for his country. However, you’d never expect his most curious talent.
Obsessed with raising chickens, Allen adopts birds that are no longer able to lay eggs. He first became interested in the birds after his wife Lacey’s work with animal welfare. Chicken & Egg magazine has even featured him on their cover. This is one of the only times where fowl play is a good thing.
Tyson is one of combat sport’s most notorious characters. You either love him or hate him, there’s little room for middle ground. The former heavyweight champion was a force of nature in his prime. However, he’s also a convicted rapist and literally bit a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear.
But there is a sense that in latter years Tyson is a different man. He doesn’t even hit the bag anymore because he doesn’t want to be the person he was before. One of ‘Iron Mike’s’ most eclectic interests is raising pigeons. His passion for the birds even morphed into a TV show.
One of hockey’s most volatile and divisive personalities, Avery is also a fashion designer. His interest in the industry is so great that he actually did an internship with Vogue. Avery has also worked with a number of creative and advertising companies. This man is truly an artistic soul.
However, on the ice, he was a different man altogether. Avery could not avoid controversy and regularly put his foot in his mouth. He even has a rule named after him after blatant unsportsmanlike behavior. He finished his 12-year career with a total of 90 goals, 247 points and 1,533 penalty minutes in 580 games.
Pacquaio is one of the most famous boxers on the planet. Revered in his home country, the Filipino is the only eight-weight world champion in the history of the sport. He’s an all-action fighter and has beaten 22 world champions throughout the course of his career. But did you know that he’s also a professional basketball player?
That’s right, Pacquaio has played in the Philippines Basketball League, where he was the player-coach of Kia Motors Basketball Team. He used the sport as a form of cross-training to keep fit and played for four years in the PBA. Finally, he retired from professional basketball in 2018. Meanwhile, he’s also serving as a senator in his country.