It’s difficult to imagine, but most sports stars weren’t famous their whole lives. Yet most athletes earn their fame through their own achievements on the playing field. Today, we’ll take a look at 30 odd encounters fans had with star athletes before they were famous.
These fans shared their stories online about how they met these individuals and reveal a lot about their character. They’re all fascinating stories, with some of them very funny. Check out the list below via Reddit and Bleacher Report.
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“I played 4 or 5 games of cornhole with Chris Duhon before the home game against UNC in 2008,” the_weak_sauce wrote on Reddit. “He was terrible, but we still had a good time. I’m also decent friends with Kyrie Irving — met him through a mutual friend the summer after he was drafted, now we both live in Cleveland. And by “decent friends” I mean that he probably still remembers my name.”
It’s odd that a good basketball player like Duhon was awful at cornhole because the concept isn’t too different from basketball. Throwing a tiny bag of corn into a hole doesn’t seem more difficult than a ball into a hoop but allegedly, Duhon struggled. He was an NCAA champion but never won an NBA ring despite playing for teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.
“Ryan Mallett showed up to an exam, completely unprepared and 20 mins late,” barrister_bear wrote on Reddit. “He just sits there for another 15 mins before getting up and asking: “Anybody got a scantron for their boy Ryan Mallett?” In short, Mallett was a massive bro and shamelessly so. This story comes from his days at the University of Arkansas before his NFL career began.
It’s one of the oddest exams that many of these students experienced. Meanwhile, Mallett stayed in the NFL for seven seasons yet only started eight games. Most of those were for the Houston Texans after he left his former role in New England as Tom Brady’s backup. Judging from the stories about his college days, Mallett was a wild character and a jovial presence in the locker room.
“I was in a dorm with all the Freshman basketball players. So I got to know Austin Rivers, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, Alex Murphy, and Michael Gbinije pretty well, “Sptagnew wrote. “Quinn Cook might have been the funniest person I have ever met.” Sometimes sports stars receive a bad reputation in college because they believe their own hype. Occasionally, this results in arrogant behavior.
However, it is refreshing when somebody speaks about a young athlete in a nice way. Furthermore, Cook had a successful college career at Duke University as he won an NCAA championship. Meanwhile, Cook went on to win two NBA rings with the Lakers and the Golden State Warriors. In 2021, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers where he hoped to earn more time in the league.
Elite athletes usually attract the attention of college scouts from across the nation in high school. However, there can be a massive discrepancy between the stars of tomorrow and kids who just like playing ball. For those who come up against a future elite football player, it can be an incredibly demoralizing experience.
“I played against Joe McKnight in high school,” WilsonHanks wrote on Reddit. He played at this big-time private school that played us every year and kicked lumps out of us.” Looking back, it must be one of the oddest memories to remember being on the same field as an NFL superstar. Tragically, McKnight lost his life in 2016 as the victim of a road-rage shooting incident.
“I tutored Taj Gray in high school,” MrRhinos said. “Dude was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. However, the sign held up at the Big 12 tournament “If you can read this, then you’re not Taj Gray” might have been accurate too.” Gray went to Wichita East in Kansas before he signed up for Oklahoma’s basketball program. It’s also odd to think of NBA stars attending high school.
Gray emerged as a big college star but never had the NBA career many projected. First of all, no team selected him in the draft. While he did make the Clippers and Sacramento summer league teams, he never got his NBA break. Instead, he spent most of his professional life playing in Europe for French and Spanish teams. Despite this, he maintained a high profile.
“I was in Arkansas, going on about how Casey Dick is a choker and can’t finish, “Stratospaly said. He was two people behind me hearing all of this. He was cool about it and laughed it off. I’ve also met Mallett who was a cool country guy and Darren McFadden who signed the full-sized stand-up cut-out of some other SEC RB then punched it in the face.”
Arkansas is obviously a tight-knit community because it seems easy to get up close and personal with their student-athletes. Dick never made the NFL but was a big college star. The McFadden story seems very odd. Meanwhile, there are many stories out there about Mallett, who seemed like a charismatic personality during his college days.
College athletes sometimes start to believe their own hype. It’s bad enough when an elite NFL or NBA player acts like they own the place, but college players can be just as unbearable. They strut around campus with a chip on their shoulder and expect to enjoy all kinds of benefits regular students never receive. However, the best way to deal with these athletes is to pretend to not have any idea who they are.
“My buddy did that to Gavin Edwards at a UConn party, “benk4 said. “He was acting like everyone should know him so my friend pretended to not know who he was and then talk about everyone else on the team. It was funny. Gavin was actually a pretty nice guy in person though.” In the end, Edwards’ antics didn’t help him because no team selected him in the draft. He spent most of his career in Japan.
“My dad went to Villanova and graduated the same year as Howie Long did,” RAVENS17d said. “He said he would beat the s**t out of people at parties and actually beat up one of my dad’s friends.” This is definitely an unfortunate story but it speaks volumes about a testosterone-fueled man like Long. An eight-time Pro Bowler, Long won a Super Bowl with the Raiders.
Nowadays, it can be dangerous to pick fights with random people because many of them have MMA training. Oklahoma star Spencer Jones received a brutal beating at the hands of an MMA-trained local in a nightclub bathroom in 2021. But sometimes athletes are just too dumb not to pick a fight. It doesn’t sound like Long was among them, however.
“You know, it’s funny, Reddit user lord_james said. “I always thought Oladipo would be so cocky in person because he plays cocky. Turns out, he’s a pretty cool dude.” Many online stories about Victor Oladipo reinforce this opinion. Despite his on-court demeanor, the former Hoosiers’ star has a great personality. Sometimes his confidence comes off as arrogance but that’s just his talent on display.
Another Indiana fan agreed with this assessment. “Oladipo is hilarious,” Saedeas said. “I’ve seen him hugging every single usher before the game and he’s always laughing and smiling. Him taking the mic at Hoosier Hysteria was incredible.” It is great when a player is genuine and likes to be around ordinary people. It’s a pity that this almost seems like odd behavior now.
“He wasn’t an NFL player at the time but I did the triple jump in high school and Alfred Morris beat me at districts,” Dizzle1218 revealed online. “Also, a meet before that Trent Richardson showed up late and his coach made him run the 400 as punishment according to him.” Obviously, running backs possess elite athleticism but it’s still odd to think of Morris doing the high jump.
Meanwhile, the revelation about Richardson shows the tough treatment that many of these young stars receive before they become famous. While they can be arrogant, they endure extreme physical hardships and know that their dreams can die with a single injury. Coaches can be tough on these young people but they aim to produce the very best.
“My friend tells a story about Will Sheehey where he said something to a girl,” DonnieNarco said. “Then the girl went on to yell and curse him out for being an ass for like 5 minutes, and when she’s done he asks her if she wants to hook up. Unsurprisingly, she said f**k off.” There are several such odd stories about Sheehey who developed a bad reputation during his time in Indiana.
He enjoyed some success as a member of the Hoosiers and thought that he was the big man on campus as a result. However, this didn’t translate into NBA success. No NBA team drafted him in 2014 so he tried out for the New York Knicks during the summer league. In the end, he bounced around Europe with a variety of different teams. But he wasn’t the elite superstar he thought that he would be.
“I met Lorenzo Neal in 6th grade and was already taller than him, “oshoney wrote. He was puffing his chest up to try to make himself bigger but then gave up.” This is definitely an odd story because Neal is a massive human being. It’s difficult to imagine him having little man syndrome but it appears as though it were the case. However, he blossomed into a supreme physical specimen.
The NFL superstar enjoyed a tremendous career and was a four-time Pro Bowler. Meanwhile, he played for seven NFL teams but most notably with the San Diego Chargers. In California, he developed his reputation as one of the best fullbacks in the business. Many analysts regard him as one of the top players never to win a Super Bowl ring. But to this fan, he was ‘that little guy.’
Many young athletes think that they are God’s gift to women because they are good on the playing field or the basketball court. There is no doubt that talent attracts female attention, but unfortunately, personality can be very important too. In short, a sleazy attitude tends to disgust some young women because they don’t want men to degrade them. Somebody should have told Peter Jurkin.
“My cousin’s girlfriend’s friend went to a party with her at IU and came back telling stories of how a “creepy large black guy with a snaggle tooth and a horrible grasp of the English language” wouldn’t stop hitting on her,” evilpenguin234 wrote. “It was Peter Jurkin.” Jurkin enjoyed a long college career after his arrival from South Sudan. Then he played in the NBA G-League.
The Kruger Brothers are football diehards. First of all, there’s Paul, a Super Bowl winner with the Baltimore Ravens. He was definitely the most successful of the boys as he made over 100 NFL appearances. Meanwhile, his young brothers, Joe and Dave, signed for numerous NFL practice squads. They never made it in the top league to the same extent as Paul but were definitely solid college athletes.
“I’ve met all of the Kruger brothers, they’re from the same area I am, they’re pretty cool guys,” hiphopdowntheblock wrote on Reddit. “I blew out my knee playing against Dave Kruger’s team in high school.” That’s definitely an odd memory to have of the least notable Kruger brother, but no doubt he’s happy that somebody still knows who he is.
It’s odd to think of football players having childhood friends, but of course, they do. One Reddit user explained how his dad was good friends with a man who became a legendary NFL icon. Eapoe18 wrote, “My dad used to go hunting with John Riggins. While he was drunk and on Sundays (it’s illegal to hunt in VA on Sunday but we live in a rural area) Riggins would drive the 80 miles to DC, drunk, and still play.”
Obviously, we don’t advocate drink and driving – or drinking and playing football – these were different times. Riggins is an NFL hero. A former Super Bowl winner, he entered the Hall of Fame in 1992 because of his brilliant career. He was a Pro Bowler, as well as an NFL Comeback Player of the Year award winner. He led the league in rushing touchdowns twice.
One of the interesting things about these odd memories is the fact that fans gain a sense of these athletes and their personal character. It is interesting to discover their idiosyncrasies. Many fans in college towns work in restaurants to earn money. Sometimes they reminisce about the times they meet college stars and how they acted in these encounters.
PresidentWhitmore described one future NBA star’s personalized takeout order. “He’s obviously better known for his NBA career than his college career, but Rik Smits (Marist 1984-1988, Indiana Pacers 1988-2000) used to come into the pizza place I worked at in high school about once a month. He’d order a dozen meatballs but he’d ask us to toss them in barbecue sauce instead of marinara.”
Rob Gronkowski is one of the most celebrated party animals in NFL history. However, unlike many other athletes, fans speak about his misadventures with a sense of pride and admiration. While many of them are odd, they’re also always entertaining. This goes all the way back to his days in college with the University of Arizona. In short, Gronk was a wildman.
Final21 described one party which the future NFL icon attended.”I went to a party where Gronk was there with another UofA player. It was a cheerleader’s birthday party so that might explain it. Anyway, beat Gronk and his friend in beer pong, and then they got p***ed and started some drunken s**t. He and the other football player started wrestling and they’re just throwing each other around on the third floor of an apartment.”
Garrick Sherman developed a significant national profile during his time with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. However, he transferred there from Michigan State after he had problems with the team. While he never blossomed into an NBA star, he was great on the college stage. Giantasscar detailed the kind of odd treatment Sherman received as a member of the Spartans.
One time, when Garrick Sherman was still on our team, the rest of the players poured like an entire shaker of salt into Sherman’s orange juice when he wasn’t looking. Sherman then proceeded to drink his salty OJ and shudder, asking everyone else if their juice was really salty. The rest of the players, through smirking faces, proceeded to convince Sherman that it must be his toothpaste that he was using that caused the saltiness.
Sometimes pure luck creates opportunities for people. One Reddit user revealed how he met a future Atlanta Falcons icon before he was famous. The odd thing was that they didn’t even know each other. Dcmcdevitt said: “My cousin went to high school with Matt Ryan so one day we went to a game and got a tour of the locker room and met him. He was so nice, even invited us back to his place for dinner. His dad is the man too.”
This is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s nice to hear that the Ryan family was so nice and genuine. But the other aspect that is fascinating is the fact that high school players know that they are on the path to greatness. Some young high school stars receive a lot of attention in their districts because everybody knows that they’ll be something special.
We’ve already talked about Peter Jurkin’s failures when it came to love. But the reality is that handsome future superstars often have an easier time attracting female attention than regular Joes. That was allegedly the case for John Wall during his time at the University of Kentucky. Some UK alumni confirmed that Wall knew how to get what he wanted and it wasn’t difficult for him.
PotheadCallingUBlack revealed: “John Wall had this move where he would ask girls to show him where the bathroom was, and when they led him there, he would proceed to take them in and do whatever.” This is an interesting strategy but the odd thing is that the success rate is very low for normal people. However, Wall was already on the path to greatness.
“I offered my joint to the guy sitting on the couch next to me,” Faultlessjoint revealed. “I had no idea who he was at first. Eventually, we got to talking and turns out he was Nick Roach. Dude talked mad s**t about just about every other player in the Big 10, hilarious as f**k.” There is nothing quite like a house party to bring people together because they create some odd conversations.
Roach played college football at Northwestern before he entered the NFL in 2008. He went undrafted but the Chicago Bears picked him up and that’s where he spent the bulk of his professional career. The linebacker spent a significant chunk of time as a utility player but in 2009 he played 15 games. That was the largest total of his entire career. It seems like a was a funny man too.
“Went to high school with Chad Henne,” MichaelIrvin said. “We weren’t friends or anything, but we had gym class together. One day we were playing dodgeball and from across the gym he launched a ball so hard that when it hit the wall it popped.” It just goes to show how much inherent power these young athletes possess. Henne was a superstar at Wilson High School so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise.
A Super Bowl winner with the Kansas City Chiefs, Henne built a reputation as Patrick Mahomes’ backup. However, his early days were stunning as he helped his high school team go unbeaten through 10 games. His national profile surged as a consequence of this and he even started as a freshman for Michigan in college. But it turns out he was a mean dodgeball player too.
It’s odd but it’s easy to forget that college athletes also study. Or at the very least, they are supposed to. One Reddit user explained that he tutored the Morris twins in literature. Dofleini revealed: “I shared classes with the Morris brothers I was in multiple classes with Marcus and Markieff Morris. I taught both of them Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Marcus called him a cracker. I lost it.”
The Morris twins both chose American Studies at the University of Kansas. As Faulkner is one of the great writers of the twentieth century, it’s so surprising that they read, or at least attempted to read, his novels. However, it also proves that many sports stars use college as a means to an end. A lot of them simply aren’t invested in their studies and just want to make it through to the draft.
Some stories are too good to pass by. Jim Harbaugh is one of the more famous college coaches out there while his son Jay is also a football coach. Reddit user Nastylep described his friendship with the younger Harbaugh and how it created tensions between their families. However, the wedge between them was created by something incredibly odd. This was about Pokemon cards.
“Pokemon cards were the biggest fad in the country at this time – Pogs had been phased out,” the NFL fan said. “At one point, I managed to trade his Blastoise from him. Jim came to my house later after finding out about the lopsided trade, reamed out my parents, and demanded we swap cards back.” To be fair, this was totally reasonable of Harbaugh because Pokemon cards are serious business.
Many college athletes receive fame even if they don’t make it into the major leagues. In fact, many people follow NCAA tournaments more passionately than the NFL or NBA. Furthermore, it means that it can be easy to encounter somebody with a following. However, in one case, it was a Kansas City Jayhawk who was doing the following, much to the displeasure of one driver.
TurdFurgeson22 explained: “Another friend was getting tailgated by Justin Wesley so he pulled over and threw his wallet at Justin’s car (still not knowing it’s him). Justin stopped and got out of the car, at which point my friend said “hey you’re Justin Wesley” and they both got back in their cars.” The surprise of seeing Wesley totally deescalated the odd situation.
We already spoke about how the Morris twins were not totally dedicated to their studies. However, this isn’t the case for many sports stars. In fact, odd as it may seem, many are very intelligent people. They are perfectly capable of doing other things but preferred to focus their energy on one profession that pays very well. In the case of Robert Turbin, he was a great student.
Aristocrat_user revealed: “I was the math and statistics tutor of Robert Turbin, Seahawks RB at Utah State University. Was an extremely smart guy, could solve tough problems fast, and had a quick learning ability. Was way better than the other student-athletes that I tutored. I didn’t care about football then. I didn’t know that he was a famous person in college.”
Victor Oladipo is allegedly a very nice man but he features on this list for a second time for this reason. However, this fan’s encounter with the future NBA superstar was certainly odd in comparison. He explained that Oladipo eats an incredible amount of food. Obviously, athletes fuel their bodies to ensure recovery and refill energy levels. But it still surprises people to see how much they can consume.
“My high school took a trip to IU to go to the library and saw Oladipo with a huge tray of food,” ma6ic wrote. Multiple sandwiches, soups, sides, it was pretty much enough for a family of four. The group got star struck, went away for 10 minutes, come back to see him walking out the door. Dude eats a ton.” It seems like there is a lot to like about Oladipo.
“Jake Long threw me into a wall in Michigan about two years ago. He is very strong,” Vgman20 wrote on Reddit. This is a ludicrous statement and it sounds like there is a fantastic story behind it. One thing that we can all agree on is the fact that Long is definitely a very powerful individual. It’s not odd to imagine him smashing an ordinary human being through a brick wall.
Despite playing both basketball and football in college, the hulking Long agreed to play for the Wolverines. An offensive tackle, he also had a great professional career in the NFL. A four-time Pro Bowler, Long represented his franchise with distinction. At 322 lbs and standing at six-foot-seven inches tall, Long was truly a monster of a human being. Don’t mess with him in a bar.
Michigan’s basketball scandal was a massive news story when the full story emerged. Basically, boosters bribed athletes to sign by buying them expensive gifts and laundered money through their young stars. However, according to one Michigan alumnus, the writing was on the wall. He found it more surprising that it took so long for the world to discover the plot.
“While I was at Michigan I would see Albert White drive around in a brand new Jaguar,” way2gimpy wrote on Reddit. “We knew it was only a matter of time before the team got busted (football teams was always cleaner – or better at hiding it).” Of course, Michigan definitely wasn’t the only school to follow such practices but it’s odd that they were so open about it.
“Chris Spielman is an awesome guy,” Sterling_Archer_ISIS wrote on Reddit. “My grandmother was probably his biggest fan, starting when he was in high school. She met him many times and he was always a great guy and knew her by name. I also met him through her, and he signed a bunch of stuff for me and took pictures. He even sent flowers when my grandmother passed away, which was absolutely amazing.”
It’s odd to think that somebody’s grandmother was the reason a person made a connection with an elite athlete. But in this case, that was the situation. Spielman’s behavior in this situation deserves a lot of respect because he sounds like a very kind human being. The Detroit legend definitely represented his family in a positive manner. It’s a good story.