When the greatest athletes in the US aren’t doing their thing in front of millions of people, they often get up to some weird and wonderful things. Of course, we’d never expect the likes of LeBron James to eat, sleep and play basketball 24/7, even if his opponents obsess over how they can stop him on the court.
However, when the sporting stars of this world aren’t doing their day job, it seems as though their chosen hobbies aren’t so different from their craft.
Sure, they might be slightly leftfield on the first impression but, when you peek beneath the surface, there are some interesting links between some sports star’s hobbies and their profession.
For example, NBA fans will know point guard Rajon Rondo as the Kentucky Wildcats college baller who went on to help the Celtics win the Championship in 2008. As well as being one of the top-ranked triple-doubles shooters of all time, Rondo has had a number of altercations during his time as a pro.
His feud with former NBA star Ray Allen has been the talk of Celtics message boards for years, but that’s not the only thing that’s stayed with Rondo since he left the Celtics. Despite parting ways with Boston in 2014, the Kentucky native still enjoys the hobby he started there.
According to the man himself, roller skating is his thing when he’s not on the court. Talking to NBA.tv back in 2009, Rondo explained that he took up skating during his rookie season as a way to pass the time in between training. However, not long after starting, he wanted to master the skill and become as slick on skates as he was on the court.
Fast-forward a few years and he was able to glide in all directions and even dribble the ball while on skates. Unsurprisingly, his naturally competitive streak was part of the reason he’s since mastered the craft. However, the crossover benefits have no doubt kept him active.
Having the ability to stay balanced and develop core strength while remaining light on your feet is all part of being a good skater. This agility is something that has undoubtedly helped the 6ft 1inch Rondo when he’s facing taller, more powerful players on the court.
The Sporting Celebs the Like to Think
When it comes to sporting figures with more cerebral hobbies, swimmer Michael Phelps and UFC president Dana White stand out. The former is clearly going to go down as one of the greatest swimmers to ever live. Indeed, after he broke Mark Spitz’s Olympic medal haul in 2008, he’d pretty much cemented his place in history.
With his legacy secure, he’s since branched out into other areas. As well as picking up a number of high profile sponsors, including watchmaker Omega, Phelps has become an avid poker player. Playing online as well as at live events such as the World Series of Poker, Phelps has reportedly become quite the force at the felt. In a similar vein, UFC boss White is also at home inside a casino when he’s not running the largest MMA organization in the world.
Rumors of million dollar wins at the blackjack tables in Vegas are common when White’s name is brought up but he’s not just a lucky gambler. By using his analytical skills, he’s been able to out play some of the best blackjack pros in the world. As per the Betway Casino guide to blackjack, doubling down is a move that allows you to double your bet and receive just one extra card after the initial deal.
Knowing exactly when to use techniques like this is one of the best ways to get the edge over the dealer in a standard game. Understanding essential blackjack concepts has helped White beat the pros in blackjack tournaments (see video above). What’s more, when you look at blackjack and poker, they both require a huge amount of strategy, timing and logic.
For Phelps, honing these skills in poker can easily help his mental fortitude in the pool. For White, having the ability to read situations and analyze multiple variables is clearly an advantage when he’s discussing business tactics with UFC board members like Lawrence Epstein.
The Athletes that Will Compete Forever
When athletes aren’t using their hobbies to improve in their chosen sports, they’re simply looking for a competitive outlet. Just because a star reaches the top of their game or decides to retire, it doesn’t mean the competitive flame that burns inside of them dies. One man who clearly has that desire to compete in all areas of his life is Randy Moss.
Even before the wide receiver called time on his career, he was already fighting for glory in the racing world. To the surprise of everyone, the seven-time Pro Bowler formed the Randy Moss Motorsports in 2008.
Set to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Moss was clearly looking for an adrenaline rush away from the field. The company eventually folded in 2012 so, nowadays, the gridiron veteran is showing his mettle in Spartan Races across the US.
If Moss’s hobbies seem a little wild, they’re nothing compared to what NFL legend Herschel Walker gets up to. Since retiring from football, Walker has tried his hand at sprinting, bobsledding and ballet.
However, in a true testament to how competitive natural athletes are, it was his foray into the world of MMA that stands out. Despite being on the wrong side of 40, Walker began training for what’s arguably the toughest sport in the world.
Although he only went on to have two professional fights, he clearly had talent. His debut against Greg Nagy ended in a third-round win, while his second outing as a pro saw him dismantle Scott Carson in just over a minute of the first round.
While age might be catching up with Walker, the urge to challenge himself clearly hasn’t. Indeed, it’s this drive that often pushes athletes to not only try new things but become experts at them.
Whether it’s skating, poker or fighting, the sports stars of this world are always ready to step out of their comfort zones and compete.