Three Athletes Who Became Respected Actors

There are comparisons between competing in professional sports and acting. For example, both are in the entertainment business, and both professions have viewers hanging off their every action and word. People tend to think of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Michael Jordan, thanks to the latter’s Space Jam movie, when they think of athletes who switched to acting. But what about the following trio of stars? Did you know about them?

Kevin Garrett

Basketball fans called Kevin Garrett “ Big Ticket” for his athleticism and emphatic dunking ability. The 6ft 11in 240lb giant of a man is considered one of the greatest power forwards of all time but has turned his mind to acting since retiring from the NBA.

Garrett won almost every award possible during a 21-season career that saw him play for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Boston Celtics, and the Brooklyn Nets, including the NBA’s MVP award in 2004. Garrett was a hot favorite with the American-friendly online sportsbook Betonline to be part of the annual All-Star team; selectors chose 15 times from 21 seasons.

The man from Greenville, South Carolina, retired from professional basketball in September 2016 and was given his own Area 21 segment (referring to his jersey number) on TNT’s Inside the NBA. Garrett loved his time on camera so much that he decided to try his arm at acting.

Garrett plays a fictionalized version of himself in Uncut Gems, a 2019 crime thriller by the Safdie brothers. Garrett received positive reviews from critics for his performances in the basketball-themed black comedy, so much so that he signed a deal with Village Roadshow Pictures. Expect to see more of Garrett on the silver screen.

Gina Carano

Gina Carona is a former MMA fighter who switched to acting once her athletics career ended. Carona competed in EliteXC and Strikeforce, where she was extremely popular, leading to her being called the face of women’s MMA. Cris Cyborg and Carona were the first females to headline a major MMA event in 2009. Cyborg won the bout by TKO, prompting Carano to retire with a 7-1 record.

Carona enjoyed her first major role as lead of the 2011 release Haywire. Subsequent roles in the Fast & Furious 6, and Deadpool followed, before Disney+ cast Carano as Cara Dune for the first two seasons of the pace western hit The Mandalorian.

She has appeared in several other television shows, video games, and movies, including the upcoming films Terror on the Prairie and My Son Hunter

However, it is unlikely we will see Carano in any future Star War titles after Lucasfilm dropped her for comments made on social media.

Dave Bautista

Growing up, Dave Bautista was a controversial character but became a successful professional wrestler with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Bautista began his televised WWF career in May 2002. He became one of WWF’s biggest stars and was crowned World Champion on no fewer than six occasions, four times in WWF and twice in WWE. Bautista tried his arm at MMA, fighting once, before a handful of returns to wrestling and eventual retirement from professional sports. 

His love of being in front of the camera is evident by his appearance in almost three dozen movies since 2009. Bautista starred in Hollywood hits such as The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption, the James Bond movie Spectre, and Blade Runner 2049. However, regular movie-goers will know Bautista best for his portrayal of Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy series and their crossover with the Avengers series of movies.

Bautista features in four yet-to-be-released films in 2022 and 2023. Look out for him in Thor: Love and Thunder, Knives Out 2, Knock at the Cabin, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.