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Top 10 Celebrities Who You Didn't Know are Skilled Athletes

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Spencer Sher

Script written by Spencer Sher

Some people have all the talent! Did you know that George Clooney almost became a professional baseball player? Or that Kaley Cuoco was a regionally ranked tennis player? WatchMojo is counting down the stars who are surprisingly amazing athletes!

Special thanks to our user AdrianWatchMojo for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Celebrities%20Who%20Are%20Skilled%20Athletes


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Script written by Spencer Sher

Top 10 Celebrities Who You Didn't Know are Skilled Athletes

Some people have all the talent! Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Celebrities Who You Didn't Know Are Skilled Athletes.

For this list, we’ll only be including celebrities that you probably never knew had secret athletic skills. So guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was a well-known body builder before becoming an actor, won’t be considered. Additionally, we’ll be excluding celebs that only played on their high school or college teams like Emma Watson, who played field hockey while attending Brown University. However, if they started playing in school and at least aspired to playing at pro level, then they’re eligible.

#10: George Clooney

There was a time when Academy Award winner and star of the “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise George Clooney was not a household name; and that time was 1977. Clooney was just 16 years old, but already had big plans for his future. However, they weren’t what you’re probably thinking. You see, Clooney was a gifted basketball and baseball player, having played both throughout high school. He later attempted to pursue a career in baseball by trying out for the Cincinnati Reds, but unfortunately didn’t survive the first round of cuts. Of course, that was just a blessing in disguise for the future A-lister, as he’d soon be one of the most famous celebs on the planet!

#9: Gordon Ramsay

When he’s not racking up Michelin stars, opening restaurants all over the world, writing books or starring in one of his many reality TV programs, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay can be found watching football. He’s a lifelong fan of the sport and even played professionally when he was a teenager. Ramsay had a trial run with Scottish Premiership club Rangers F.C. in the mid-80s, but was ultimately cut due to injury. While he gave up on his football dreams a long time ago, Ramsay has remained active, competing in marathons, triathlons and Iron Man challenges regularly. Talk about a beast!

#8: Jason Lee

Longtime funnyman Jason Lee has a career that stretches back more than two decades, with memorable roles in films such as “Mallrats” and “Almost Famous,” as well as a starring role in the sitcom “My Name Is Earl.” However, before he was an actor, Lee could be found tearing up skate parks all over the world. A professional skateboarder in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Lee co-founded his own skateboard company in 1992. He was later featured as a playable character in the 2006 video game Tony Hawk’s Project 8. We don’t know about you, but we think it would be pretty cool if Lee played Hawk in a biopic one day!

#7: Ed O’Neill

Before he was starring in hit sitcoms like “Married…with Children” and “Modern Family,” Ed O’Neill had one thing on his mind: American football. The Ohio native was a star defensive lineman and translated his skills into a football scholarship to Ohio University, though he later transferred to Youngstown State University. O’Neill was so good that in 1969 he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he was cut during training camp and never ended up making it as a football player. Of course O’Neill would go on to star in the classic ‘90s football comedy “Little Giants,” so it’s not like he abandoned the sport entirely!

#6: Hugh Laurie

What with his countless film and TV roles - not to mention his three Golden Globe awards - it would be easy to assume that Hugh Laurie always knew he would become an actor. However, in the late ‘70s the Englishman appeared poised for a career in rowing! Laurie took up the sport while in school, competing regularly and even while attending Cambridge University. In 1977, he even won a British National title as part of the junior coxed pair. Following these successes, Laurie began training to be an Olympic rower, but ultimately decided to pursue a career in acting instead – though he remains a member of one the world’s oldest rowing clubs: Leander Club, today. Not a bad to skill to fall back on, that’s for sure!

#5: Kaley Cuoco

Ever since she landed the role of Bridget Hennessy on “8 Simply Rules,” Kaley Cuoco has had no problem finding work. Of course, the world now knows her best as Penny, “The Big Bang Theory” character that turned her into a household name! Yet, there was a time when it appeared Cuoco’s career would be in athletics. The California native was a promising tennis player in her youth and at one point was regionally ranked. While she gave up the sport at 16, she still enjoys playing for fun on occasion!

#4: Kurt Russell

Two things dominated Kurt Russell’s youth: acting and baseball. The future Hollywood leading man played second base for a number of minor league teams including the hilariously named Bend Rainbows and Walla Walla Islanders. He’d later make his way up to AA ball, playing for the El Paso Sun Kings. Unfortunately, that was where he tore his rotator cuff, an injury that would ultimately lead to him hanging up the cleats once and for all. Of course, that was after he played ball for the Portland Mavericks, a team his father owned and which was the subject of the 2014 documentary “The Battered Bastards of Baseball.”

#3: Jason Statham

There was a time, before “The Transporter” and “The Expendables,” before “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch,” when Jason Statham was known more for his diving skills than for his acting ability; and that time was 1990. That was the year Statham, who had long shown promise as a diver, competed for England in the Commonwealth Games. And while he didn’t walk away with any hardware, he did eventually land a modeling contract while training at a London sports center. That contract would lead to him meeting director Guy Ritchie and the rest as they say is history.

#2: Matthew Perry

You’d be hard pressed to guess it by looking at him, but the former “Friends” star was once a nationally ranked tennis player! Perry was ranked as high as 17 in the junior singles category and third in doubles! Around the same time, Perry was discovering his love of acting, and when push came to shove he decided to leave his tennis dreams behind in favor of a career in the arts. Seeing as how he went on to star in one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, we think he made the right choice. Of course, if he ever challenges you to a tennis match, you’d be wise to come prepared.

#1: Geena Davis

Academy Award winner Geena Davis is best known for her iconic performances in “Beetlejuice,” “Thelma & Louise” and more recently her starring role in season one of “The Exorcist.” But did you know she is also an accomplished archer? She picked up the sport in 1997 and just two years later found herself vying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic archery team! While she didn’t make the squad, she did finish 24th out of 300…so still pretty impressive! Davis claims the whole thing was “the most out-of-body experience I’ve ever had” and that she “trained like crazy.” Perhaps she’ll try again in 2020!


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