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Before They Were Stars, They Were Awesome Athletes



As a child, you have aspirations to be many things, but becoming an actor usually isn’t one of them. However, one thing that’s nearly universal between all children is playing sports, which oftentimes leads to legitimate opportunities to play into high school, college, and even the pros.
And by everyone, we mean actors, too, because even they played growing up, and some of them had abilities that could’ve taken them further if they’d chosen that path. From football, to martial arts and even hockey, here are actors who had legitimate sporting career potential.

Emma Watson

After starring in a few of the Harry Potter movies, Emma attended Brown University while making a few others. She was a very busy student because she also played Field Hockey for the university.

Jason Statham

Jason is the fast action hero of such movies as The Transporter, Crank and of course The Furious series. But, he’s also a highly competitive swimmer and diver who was in the 1990 Commonwealth Games competing for England.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold has continued his fame by playing infamous roles as Conan and The Terminator. But, he was famous long before that as a bodybuilder when he won Mr. Olympia in 1970.

Sean Connery

Before he was James Bond and escaping from The Rock, he was a bodybuilder and a footballer. He competed in Mr. Universe in the early 1950s and as far as football goes, he was actually chosen to play for Manchester United, “I realized that a top-class footballer could be over the hill by the age of 30, and I was already 23. I decided to become an actor and it turned out to be one of my more intelligent moves.”

The Rock

It’s no secret what The Rock was doing before he found fame in the movies. He was flying high above the ring in professional wrestling asking everybody what they could smell cooking.

Denzel Washington

The Oscar winner has rocked plenty of movies, it’s hard to list just one role that made him a star. Before that though, he started as guard for Fordham University basketball.

Bruce Lee

Of course with Bruce Lee, it’s hard to say where his movie stardom begins and his martial arts stardom ends. The two go hand in hand and people can’t think about Bruce Lee without thinking about his awesome martial arts skills.

Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw makes the list because he has in fact been in movies and he’s a television personality. But of course, everyone knows he is a multi Super Bowl ring wearing star quarterback who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Burt Reynolds

The legendary Burt Reynolds has been driving fast and playing hard through his awesome movie career. But, he won a football scholarship to Florida State University and even had dreams of going pro before an injury ended all that.

Carl Weathers

Of course, we know Carl Weathers from Rocky and other roles in movies such as Happy Gilmore. But, it’s a fact that he also played professional football for the Oakland Raiders.

Chuck Norris

The movie and television career of Chuck Norris is well-known with his roles in Walker, Texas Ranger and The Delta Force. But he is also well known for his martial arts career, especially since being inducted into the Martial Arts History Museum’s Hall of Fame.

Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell has starred in many roles from his days as a kid to the present. But, he was also a baseball player on the rise who was even being scouted by major league teams while he played for several minors.

Ed O’Neill

From his days in Married With Children to the now Modern Family, Ed has enjoyed a great career in Hollywood. But, he was also a star football player who actually signed with The Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lou Ferrigno

Lou is known best for his role as The Incredible Hulk in the long running series of late 70s and early 80s. But, it’s because he was first a title winning bodybuilder that got him the role to begin with.

Terry Crews

Before starring in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Terry has been in movies and television shows since 1999. Before that though, he played professional football for the Los Angeles Rams and other NFL teams until the 1996.

Steven Seagal

Steven Seagal is well-known for his martial arts skills in all the movies he has ever starred. That’s because he’s a 7th degree black belt as well as an instructor.

Forest Whitaker

From Platoon to Arrival, you could probably name your favorites and he had a role in it. But his first love was football when he played for California State Polytechnic University until an injury ended that dream.

Mark Harmon

Before being the leader of an investigative team in NCIS, Mark was the star quarterback for UCLA. He is an inductee into the Pierce College Athletic Hall of Fame.

Avril Lavigne

Avril enjoys a huge life of singing stardom now. But rumor has it that she’s a pretty good hockey player, especially since she received two MVP awards while she was playing.

Sean Connery

In his younger days, he competed in Mr. Universe in the early 50s. He also played football for Bonnyrigg Rose.

Jon Stewart

Back in his soccer days, he played for William & Mary. It’s true that when a person is great, they have the ability to be great in more things than one.