10 Athletes Who Turned Out to Be Great Actors

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In the celebrity world, like the real world, it’s not uncommon for people to want to want to change paths.  Over the years, there have been more than a few instances of stars trying their luck in other industries. Think about all the times you’ve heard of actors trying to start careers in the music industry and vice versa. Even some athletes have tried to expand their brands by embarking on musical and/or acting careers. Unfortunately; however, many stars simply couldn’t cut it, and realized that sticking to what they know best would be a wise decision.  But for those who were able to get it right, they’ve definitely opened up more doors than they could have ever possible imagined. Here are 10 athletes who turned out to be great actors.

Shaquille O’Neal

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Four time NBA champion, Shaquille O’Neal is one of the best basketball players of his generation. However, aside from beasting other players in the paint, Shaq has also found some success as an actor. Shaq may not be the most technically talented person to ever hit the screen, but his larger than life personality always makes him the center of attention. Now that he is retired from the league, there’s a good chance that Shaq will eventually try to pursue his acting career even further.

(Getty Images)

Mr. T

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During the 70s, Mr. T gained mainstream fame as a professional wrestler who originally appeared as Hulk Hogan’s tag team partner. By the 80s, he began a film career that eventually consisted of dozens of on-screen appearances.  Over the last three decades, Mr. T has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, and some people these days may not even know that he actually got his start as an athlete.

(Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Jim Brown

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During the 50s and 60s, Jim Brown was best-known for professional football career with the Cleveland Browns. For more than a decade, Brown dominated the NFL as a fullback. In 2002, Sporting News even named him the greatest football player ever. Brown began his acting career in 1964, a year before he retired from football. Throughout the 60s and 70s he landed several starring roles and became known for his portrayal of tough; no-nonsense characters.

 (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Audi)

Ray Allen

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Two time NBA champion, Ray Allen, is considered one of the best shooters in the league, but he’s also tried his luck on the big screen.  Although Allen’s acting career only consists of one major appearance, his starring role as Jesus Shuttlesworth in Spike Lee’s 1998 film, He Got Game, has become classic.  The performance even earned him an MTV Movie Award nomination in 1999. Recently, there has been talk of a sequel to the film, although nothing official has been announced.

(Photo by Rommel Demano/Getty Images)

Jason Lee

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Although he is now best-known for his career as an actor, Jason Lee was a pretty popular professional skateboarder during the 80s and 90s. During the mid 90s; however, Lee’s acting career began to gain traction and he landed several film roles. In 2005 he was cast as the title character in the TV series, My Name Is Earl, a role which earned him several award nominations including two Screen Actors Guild nominations.

(Getty Images)

Burt Reynolds

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Before hitting the screen, award-winning actor, Burt Reynolds, was a college athlete who earned a football scholarship to Florida State University. Reynolds hope to eventually make it as a professional, but an injury cut his career short. However, Reynolds didn’t stay down for long. He began his film career in the early 60s, and throughout the years he rose through the ranks, starring in films such as The Longest Yard and Deliverance. Aside from becoming one of the biggest names in the industry, Reynolds has also earned several major awards including two Golden Globes.

 (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Rick Fox

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Even before retiring from the NBA in 2004, three-time champion, Rick Fox had already began a successful acting career. In fact, Rick Fox is probably a better actor than he ever was a basketball player. Over the years, he has appeared in dozens of film and TV productions, and his good looks have helped him to fit right in with the rest of the Hollywood stars. Although he hasn’t won any major awards, he continues to land some pretty impressive roles, and has appeared alongside some of the biggest names in the industry.

(Getty Images)

Vinnie Jones

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Before becoming an actor, Vinnie Jones was a professional soccer player in England. However, more than a decade after retiring from soccer, Jones still remains very relevant thanks to his outstanding career as an actor.  Jones has landed several starring roles in both TV and film productions, and he is commonly cost in bad guy/thug roles. When it’s all said and done, there’s a good chance that acting – not sports – is what Jones will be best-known for.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images For BAFTA Los Angeles)

Chuck Norris

Before becoming the pop culture icon that everyone knows and loves today, Chuck Norris was a martial artist who used his abilities to help him land gigs as an actor. Throughout the course of his career, Norris appeared in numerous action films, and even became the star of a TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger. In recent years, Chuck Norris has become very popular on the Internet and has been featured in a series of memes that highlight his legendary physical strength.

 (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Before become an actor, Dwayne Johnson was a very successful athlete. As a college football player, he helped to win a championship at the University of Miami, and he eventually went on to have a professional football player in the WWF and WWE. These days; however, Johnson has traded in his ‘The Rock’ persona for a more family friendly feel.  As an actor, Johnson has appeared in a wide array of productions, and has become a household name all over again.

 (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for Paramount)

Lead Photo (Getty Images)

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