By Ryan Wong
November 05, 2014

The fine line between making it as a professional athlete and never seeing sport's brightest lights is razor thin. Athletes who dominate their local high school and even their college athletic program don't necessarily make it at the pro level. Even those who were obviously premiere talents often had training and/or education to prepare for the possibility of not being able to follow their athletic dreams. Here's what some of the world's best athletes could have done if they weren't involved in the crazy world of professional sports.

Magic Johnson - DJ


Once an entertainer, always an entertainer. Before he would go on to become one of the best basketball players to ever live, Magic Johnson had a passion for being a DJ in college where he worked for a Lansing disco as a disc jockey. He even had a great name for himself as well - EJ the DJ.

Pau Gasol - Doctor

Pau Gasol's favorite sport may be basketball but a career in hoops was not Gasol's original career goal. When he was a child, Gasol wanted to be a doctor and he even enrolled at the University of Barcelona's medical school before basketball became his full-time job. Gasol still remains actively interested in medicine and he even sat in to observe a surgery in 2010.

Shaquille O'Neal - Professor, Police Officer, Rapper and Actor


It may take less time to list the professions that Shaq hasn't pursued. He has his Ed.D, he's been a reserve officer for the Los Angeles Port Police and Miami Beach. He's been an actor ("Kazaam" counts, ok) and a platinum certified rapper. He may be pro sports most interesting man in the world.

Steve Young - Lawyer


After he was done with a Hall of Fame career as the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Steve Young went back to his alma mater, BYU, and got his Juris Doctor from BYU's J. Rueben Clark Law School. Thankfully, Young would go on to become a very good football analyst, thus sparing the world another lawyer (apologies to all lawyers out there).

Clint Dempsey - Rapper


@clint_dempsey rapping? @clint_dempsey rapping #MLSNEXT

A video posted by Sports Illustrated: Soccer (@si_soccer) on

Aside from being one of America's most recognizable soccer stars, Clint Dempsey is also an accomplished rapper. Known as "Deuce", Dempsey displayed his skills on the mic with the music video "Don't Tread" and he debuted a new track "Hot Fire" earlier this year.

Madison Bumgarner - Farmer

During the offseason, Bumgarner lives on a farm in North Carolina. He once gave his wife a cow for her birthday. This almost feels like cheating because Madison Bumgarner is most likely a full-time farmer who moonlights as a World Series winning pitcher.

Chris Kluwe - Blogger

Chris Kluwe speaks onstage at the fifth annual PFLAG National Straight for Equality Awards

Kluwe has generated far more interest as a highly-opinionated writer than he did as a punter in the NFL.

David Beckham - Model


The international star is almost as well known for his modeling gigs as he is for being a retired soccer superstar. You know you've made it when you get your name plastered all over some H&M gear.

Justin Tucker - Opera Singer

The Baltimore Ravens kicker was a high school singer and he studied opera singing as a part of his music major in college. Tucker can sing in seven different languages - English, Spanish, French, Latin, Russian, German and Italian.

Vernon Davis - Painter

Davis has a strong passion for art which can be seen in his own works and that of the organization he founded - the Vernon Davis Foundation of the Arts ( He's also a fairly good painter in his own right.

Kobe Bryant - Pianist

Kobe Bryant's life is consumed by basketball but the world got a glimpse of what could have been when Kobe was sidelined with a torn Achilles. The Lakers franchise player took up the piano as a hobby and his new-found passion would become an integral part of his life (and shoe ads).

Ryan Wong is a writer for Next Impulse Sports

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