The Most Successful Athletes Turned Actors

The Most Successful Athletes Turned Actors

Being an elite athlete opens some doors that ordinary individuals may not have. For example, several athletes turn to the entertainment industry once their playing days wind down. The hit rate of great actors may be worse than Russell Westbrook’s three-point percentage, but you can’t say the most successful athletes turned actors made the wrong decision.

Jim Brown

Many would make the case that the Cleveland Browns’ legendary running back Jim Brown is the greatest ever to play the position. In his eight-year career, he led the league in rushing yards seven times, including 1,863 yards with a 14-game schedule in 1963. But for how impressive Brown was on the field, his career in the acting world is equally impressive.

Brown has 58 acting credits to his name, with his role as Robert T. Jefferson in The Dirty Dozen as his most prominent and critically acclaimed. The last film Brown appeared in was Kevin Costner’s Draft Day, which fittingly involved the Cleveland Browns.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

If you want to look at someone without many failures in their life, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would be your model citizen. Abdul-Jabbar is a wonderful humanitarian who has helped those around him, which is more than most people can say about themselves. On top of being one of the greatest collegiate centers of all time and the former NBA scoring king, Abdul-Jabbar is a living legend on the screen.

Regarding Kareem’s acting career, Airplane! is his most famous role as pilot Roger Murdock. But most of his work was on TV. Abdul-Jabbarr was the narrator for the Emmy-nominated Black Patriots and helped Uncle Jesse find his sweet spot on Full House, among many other small cameos.

Dave Bautista

Dave Bautista may not have the professional sports background as others on this list, but the former WWE champion’s acting work is too incredible to ignore. Wrestlers becoming actors isn’t new, considering Hulk Hogan, The Miz, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and a certain member of “The Bloodline” we’ll get to later.

However, Big Dave’s role as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy may be the best role of the bunch. Bautista parlayed his Marvel success into other starring roles in silly comedies like Stuber and Knives Out: Glass Onion.

LeBron James

Although the Space Jam sequel was less than stellar, you cannot ignore LeBron’s influence on the silver screen. Acting roles aside, James founded his studio, SpringHill, with his longtime business partner, Maverick Carter. As a producer, James’s fingerprints are on many projects, including his Max Original The Shop. Who knows what the future holds for the current all-time NBA leading scorer, but it’s clear his entertainment career is only beginning.

Dwayne Johnson

He may not win any Oscars or star in movies that make you stand up and applaud, screaming, “That’s cinema!” Nonetheless, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the most successful athlete to make a move into acting.

Johnson’s net worth is currently $800 billion, much more than the seven bucks he had in his pocket when signed with the WWE. Johnson turned those seven bucks into a production company aptly named Seven Bucks Productions with his ex-wife, Dany Garcia.

Professional athletes have tried to make something of themselves for decades after hanging up their uniforms. But they can’t hold a candle to this list of the most successful athletes turned actors. We’ll see others make a flawless transition, but becoming a billionaire like The Rock sets the bar high.