Athletes With Embarrassing Music Careers

Okay, let's name some of the athletes that have been praised for their musical skills. The late NBA player Wayman Tisdale, who was a jazz bassist, falls into that category because three of his eight albums went number one on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. Former New York Yankees star Bernie Williams is another one. That's because he's a jazz guitarist and released a couple of projects that also landed on the Billboard charts. 

Now let's go the opposite direction and look at athletes that some may say had an embarrassing music career. There's Hulk Hogan, who once released a rap album; the late, great Kobe Bryant launched a rap career that didn't go well; and the boxer Roy Jones released some rap albums that pretty much came and went. Those three are just on the top of the pile, though, because there are a large group of athletes that gave music a go when they probably shouldn't have. But who are they?

Deion Sanders used a lot of rap clichés

Deion Sanders, who was a big-time NFL and Major League Baseball star, was the ultimate showman, plain and simple. For one, the guy was often seen in incredibly fancy duds, and he showboated on the field with the best of them. Clearly, Sanders let it be known that he was just as much of an entertainer as an athlete. He even released a rap album in 1995 called "Prime Time," which is also his nickname. 

In the video for "Must be the Money," one of the cuts on the album, the native Floridian is seen using one rap cliché after another, as the girls and fancy cars are seen throughout. Meanwhile, the sports star's lyrics detail his opulent lifestyle.

One could say that Sanders' delivery sounds more amateurish than professional, and his desire to show how rich he is superseded his desire to showcase actual craft. But still, the song and his album got plenty of attention when it came out, but it seemed to be mostly because of the novelty factor. As for some of the reviews of the album, All Music used words like "yawner" and "snooze" to describe it. Other publications dissed it as well, while Bleacher Report put Sanders on their "Worst Rappers In Sports" list.

Shaquille O'Neal rapped about a bagel

Being born in 1972, Shaquille O'Neal is from Generation X, the generation that saw the beginning and rise of hip-hop, so it's not surprising that he was into rap. But in 1993, he officially went from fan to artist after dropping his debut album "Shaq Diesel." At the time, O'Neal was playing for the Orlando Magic, where he became an NBA star and celebrity. He'd release other albums in later years, like "Shaq Fu: Da Return," "You Can't Stop the Reign," and "Respect."

The thing is, though, despite dropping albums all through the '90s, it could be said that O'Neal was never viewed in the same way as other famous rappers. It was more like, "Hey, look, Shaq is rapping." Plus, just like Deion Sanders, O'Neal made Bleacher Report's "Worst Rappers In Sports" list. That could be due to some of the lines he delivered that probably won't be analyzed or dissected by lyric lovers. "I got a hand that'll rock ya cradle / Cream you like cheese, spread you on my bagel," rapped O'Neal on "(I Know I Got) Skillz."

Then in 2019, he was part of a random rap battle that could be called the musical showdown that no one asked for. It was between himself and NBA star Damian Lillard. Rolling Stone, for example, called it the year's strangest battle.

John Cena might have the worst rap name in history

Let's first start with John Cena's rap name, The Doctor of Thuganomics. If he's not embarrassed by it now, maybe he will be someday. If not him, then his future children. Cena created his rap character for World Wrestling Entertainment. He made his debut there in 2002, and his popularity grew after The Doctor of Thuganomics character took off. Cena released his debut album "You Can't See Me" in 2005 with Marc "Tha Trademarc" Predka, his cousin, and it sold 143,000 copies in its opening week, per SB Nation. It also grabbed the number fifteen spot on the Billboard 200 charts.

But despite the impressive sales number and chart success, the album is far from being universally adored. "You know there are several things that are absolutely dumb about this album, most notably, that it exists," wrote one listener on Rate Your Music. That same person did have some positive things to say about Cena's rapping ability, though.

Still, the wrestler-turned-actor won't be bringing out his rap character anymore because he feels he's aged out of it."Hip-hop certainly is in sync with the youth, and every day that passes, I grow less youthful, as much as I have tried to hold onto it," Cena told ESPN in 2016. "I knew that the platform really wouldn't be indicative of success."

Allen Iverson regrets his music career

Look, people are multifaceted because the basketball player may paint, and the painter may have a wicked jump shot. So, Allen Iverson releasing a single called "40 Bars" in 2000 shouldn't be all that surprising. Later, he admitted to being embarrassed about his music career because the songs were horrible. But also because it got him into trouble with the former NBA commissioner David Stern due to the lyrics. In the cut, Iverson delivers violent threats and uses the N-word repeatedly, as well as a homophobic slur. People even protested at radio stations because of his music.

"The lyrics that have been attributed to Allen Iverson's soon-to-be-released rap CD are coarse, offensive, and anti-social," said Stern back then. "Whatever constitutional rights of free speech an individual may have, there is no constitutional right to participate in the NBA, and I have the power ... to disqualify players who engage in offensive conduct, including inappropriate speech."

Iverson spoke about the song on Kevin Hart's "Cold as Balls" show in an interview that was released in 2022 and expressed regret. "It's so embarrassing ... It was not a good idea," said the retired hooper. "A lot of people tell you what you want to hear as opposed to what you need to hear, and I had dealt with that." Iverson was supposed to release an album called "Non-Fiction" after the "40 Bars" single, but it was never released.

Troy Hudson needed a good PR person

Retired basketball player Troy Hudson probably thought being in the NBA would help his rap career, which is a logical assumption, but it didn't happen. In 2007, he released his album "Undrafted," but it only sold 78 copies in the first week. The numbers certainly had to surprise Hudson since he was famous in the basketball world. More than likely, a non-famous rapper selling his CD on a random street corner might've achieved better results.

Anyway, if one were to Google "Undrafted," he or she would mostly see information about the poor album sales — meaning, it wasn't covered by well-known music publications when it dropped. And here's a scary thought: Hudson actually ran a record label called Nutty Boyz Entertainment, according to what he said in an NBA article, and managed three acts. So, if the label owner and manager sold under 80 units of his album in the first week, how well do you think his artists fared? It's something to think about.

John McEnroe's rock star wife couldn't help him

After his professional tennis days were over, John McEnroe began playing guitar, started a band called the Johnny Smyth Band, and began working on an album. The project was never released, so we can't say that McEnroe embarrassed himself by putting out subpar material. But he probably would have been ashamed if it came out, based on what he told GQ in 2019. Why? Because McEnroe said he can't sing.

"Well, after I stopped playing, I was working on some songs and playing with people. And that led to, 'Hey, we should write original songs,'" he explained. "The bottom line is that I had control over whether it [would] be released, and at the end of the day — sadly for the world or maybe luckily for the world — I decided it wasn't good enough to release it. And that was because of the vocals ... Although I like [to] sing and talk, the singing part just didn't work out."

As many probably know, the seven-time Grand Slam winner is married to Patty Smyth, the frontwoman of the rock band Scandal. So, maybe she tried to coach her husband to be a better singer but failed. McEnroe does still play, however, and can be seen all over the Internet strumming his guitar. He even played with Pearl Jam once.

Metta Sandiford-Artest delivered a strange Matt Lauer lyric

He was born Ronald Artest Jr., but as of 2023, his name is Metta Sandiford-Artest after changing it from Metta World Peace. In 2006, the former NBA player released "My World," an album that has features from Diddy, New Orleans rapper Juvenile, and others. Artest's album was panned for the most part, mainly because of his lyrics. "Matt Lauer, up on NBC / You look like a girl don't talk to me," he rapped on the song "Haterz." It could be said that, along with the strange lyrics, Artest's flow didn't sound like he spent endless hours learning how to rap; it was more like karaoke.

Plus, the album has 21 songs, which is a lot to sit through for even a top-notch rapper, let alone for someone who appears to be a novice. Just ask someone who listened to the project and vented on Rate Your Music. "This album is more or less exactly what you'd expect. I was surprised there were 21 tracks. Holy moly, I don't think I can get through this," that person wrote. 

Some did like the album, though, but in that bad B-movie kind of way. You know, when something is so bad, it's stupendous. "This only gets 2 1/2 stars mostly for the novelty value," read another message on Rate Your Music. "It's typical rap, but the fact that it's Ron Artest at least makes it somewhat entertaining."

Randy Savage got into battle rap

Based on the reviews, it would've been better if Randy "Macho Man" Savage kept his 2003 album "Be a Man" a passion project and not released it to the world. It's that bad, according to the general consensus. One of the songs that seems to be most discussed online is the late wrestler dissing Hulk Hogan on the title track. Hopefully, Savage didn't hire a ghostwriter for the song because if that was the case, he was due a refund. "Hollywood Hulkster you're at the end of your rope / And I'm a kick ya in the butt and wash your mouth out with soap," Savage rapped, seeming to pull an insult from his first-grade self. 

On top of that, the album only sold 15,000 copies, as Vice details (via Big3). But despite the bad reviews, Savage's brother Lanny Poffo said Savage took rapping and making the album seriously. "Randy put a lot of himself into it and practiced everything he possibly could to learn the craft," Poffo told Complex. "He was not a halfway kind of guy. He did something or did not do something, all or nothing. He was invested thoroughly in this."

Carl Lewis had a bad National Anthem performance

Many years before Usain Bolt, track and field star Carl Lewis was called one of the fastest men in the world. But some might say he should've sprinted straight out of the studio before laying down vocals to his 1987 album "Modern Man." For one, you certainly won't find the LP on any greatest albums list. Plus, many seem to have fun with the video for "Break It Up," one of the singles. 

That mainly has to do with Lewis breaking out some awkward shoulder movements while singing and rendezvousing with a woman that could've been someone's grandmother. Plus, it could be said that his other videos came off just as cheesy, like the visuals of his song "Lovers Don't Talk."

Then there was his National Anthem performance at a 1993 NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets. At the start of the performance, Lewis launched into a long offkey note that sounded like a wild beast got caught in a trap. Then when he sang "And the rocket's red glare," his voice cracked worse than a dropped hand mirror. The performance is hard to watch but hilarious at the same time. 

Tony Parker's music career came and went

"TP" is the name of retired NBA player Tony Parker's rap album, where he's rapping in his native French language. The album made pretty much zero noise in U.S. rap circles, aside from people seeming to be surprised that Parker was even a rapper. As for the reviews, one person on Rate Your Music said the album is just "bad," while another believes it's so terrible that Parker's former wife, Eva Longoria, left him over it. The former couple split in 2011, by the way.

But it's not like the songs were sonic disasters because some left kind words underneath Parker's singles "Balance Toi" and "Premier Love" on YouTube. That's despite the former hoop star sporting cliché rap fashions in the clips like he was dressing as a rapper for Halloween. Another sign that Parker's rap career never truly caught on is that he walked away from it. In 2013 he told France's Tele-Loisirs that he retired from music.