Whether it’s on the basketball court or the recording studio, these NBA players-turned-rappers have proven their talents.
Music and the NBA seem like an inseparable pairing. Basketball culture is heavily intertwined with music and vice versa, evident in how players often share their game-day playlists, post their favorite songs, and artists often quote NBA references in their lyrics. It’s hard to imagine one without the other, and this is especially so if you’ve ever been to a live basketball game, where music is truly part of the entire experience — halftime shows, team chants, music in between plays, and dance cameras.
But apart from the live viewing experience that’s meant to entertain fans, there are many other ways the worlds of music and NBA crossover with one another. The ones that we love most are the instances wherein players create music themselves.
Here are some of the best NBA players-turned-rappers with music that actually might get your head bangin’.
1. Damian Lillard
Let’s start with an obvious one: Damian Lillard, also known as Dame D.O.L.L.A.
Although his claim to fame was in the NBA, Damian Lillard began rapping as a kid when he would spend time with his cousins, and ever since he has always held a passion for hip-hop music. And among the NBA players-turned-rappers, he is arguably one of the stars who have successfully entered the public consciousness as an artist and not just as an NBA star with a side hobby.
Under his hip-hop alias, Dame D.O.L.L.A, which stands for ‘Different on Levels the Lord Allows,’ he released his first single, Soldier in the Game, on SoundCloud in 2015 and since then, he has produced four studio albums with hits that have made it to Billboard’s top album sales list.
2. Tony Parker
The former point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, Tony Parker, was among the better-known NBA players-turned-rappers back then.
In 2007, Parker released a full-length album called TP which featured 11 songs, all recorded in French, truly proving his many talents outside of basketball. His rap song on the album called Premier Love, which featured French R&B artist Rickwel, won him an appearance on the Billboard France digital song sales chart, even reaching ninth.
3. Marvin Bagley III
Rapping under the name MB3FIVE, Detroit Pistons player Marvin Bagley III has been coming up with bangers even before he was drafted into the NBA.
After releasing his debut collection of songs entitled Don’t Blink back in 2018 on Soundcloud and Audiomack, MB3FIVE has gone on to release four studio albums on major music platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, amassing thousands of streams.
4. Lonzo Ball
Just like most other NBA players, Lonzo Ball is definitely passionate about rap music. He once shared that in his free time, he enjoys writing lyrics on his phone.
In 2017, he turned this passion into something to share, releasing his first single called Melo Ball 1, a song about his youngest brother, LaMelo. Not long after, he dropped another piece called ZO2, which was an ode to his line of shoes. Listening through his discography, Lonzo Ball, who goes by Zo as an artist, definitely makes sure to add his personal touch to his music.
5. Shaquille O’Neal
Last, but most definitely not the least, is former NBA star, Shaquille O’Neal.
While still playing in the NBA, O’Neal signed with Jive Records in 1993 to release his debut album, Shaq Diesel. Fans of both the basketball and music industry received the album well, and it wound up reaching the 25th spot on the Billboard 200.
Following the success of his first album, Shaq would go on to release four studio albums, two compilation albums, and nine singles — a vast collection of music making him one of the most well-known NBA players who actually succeeded in the music industry.
Banner image from Damian Lillard on Instagram.