Colosseum to courtside
In the days of ancient Rome, some gladiators, though talented, might not have dreamed of a life spent fighting to the death. Some undoubtedly heard the sound of the blaring Colosseum horns, and could only hope to serenade the masses in another life. For every one of those envious gladiators, there had to be a matching musician high in the stands that could only dream of the glory garnered every time they stepped into the arena. But at least the horn player did not have to worry about making it out of the Colosseum alive.
So began the universal appreciation and respect between athletes and musicians.
But what is it that keeps this seemingly spiritual bond going so strong? Why is this shared admiration so potent?
“Music does a certain thing to our minds and bodies that helps us go ahead and push and grind through the obstacles holding us back," said Santa Monica College men's basketball forward Joseff Singleton. "Athletes usually come from poverty; a lot of musicians come from poverty, so I guess we all feel like we come from the same background.”
Take professional boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather and rap mogul 50 Cent. Though their friendship is currently on the rocks over money allegedly owed to 50 Cent, at one time the hip-hop star was directly involved in Mayweather's pre-fight training regimen and was even asked to pick up Mayweather following his release from jail in 2012.
Helping a buddy with his livelihood and being entrusted to return a friend home from prison are usually jobs reserved for the most trusted friends and family members. But for Mayweather, all it took was someone he respected as much as 50 Cent.
Hip-hop icon Jay-Z just last year started his own sports management agency. Before he could even find office space, he had superstar athletes such as Robinson Cano and Victor Cruz waiting at his door to sign on the dotted line. What do all three of these superstars have in common? They all grew up in the projects.
Luckily for Jay-Z, Cano became a free agent after the close of the 2013 season, which means Jay-Z’s new agency should expect to see millions of dollars from Cano’s new contract alone.
Although the shared childhood experience could possibly be applied to some friendships on that level, Adam Griffin, a point guard on the SMC men's basketball team, believes it could stem from curiosity of the other's profession.
“Athletes want to be musicians because athletes want to chill sometimes," Griffin says. "Musicians get to chill and party a lot. When athletes see that, they’re like, 'Damn, we’re working hard and want to chill but just can’t all the time.' Musicians want to be athletes especially when they’re watching games. They want to be out there playing in front of the fans.”
The awe and allure of a life of glamour can be very enticing to young athletes. Taylor McDaniel, a linebacker on the SMC football team, has his perspective on why that may be the case.
“I think athletes want to be musicians because we see that musicians get the girls with the music,” he says.
Having learned to play the ukulele on YouTube, McDaniel often plays on campus in front of various crowds of adoring ladies.
Some athletes have begun to make the crossover into the music world such as Singleton, who has a very profound appreciation for music and how it can enhance his attitude toward basketball. He has had a hand in finished products that a few of his teammates are actually listening to.
“I ghost write," Singleton says. "I write music. I work for a couple artists in LA, my best friend; he’s an up-and-coming artist. He’s becoming very popular now, Casey Veggies. We used to play for Inglewood [High School] together, also Niko G4 and Odd Future. I grew up out here in the gym and in the studio. I’ve always liked both.”
Joining Singleton as a crossover athlete and artist is incoming football freshman defensive end Marlin Minks. He not only has experience as a singer, but he is also a poet and budding actor.
“Football takes up all your time, and you can’t really do anything on the side, but a lot of people have a story to tell, including me,” Minks says. “Poetry and singing is something I do on the side, but I really want to be an actor. Ever since I was little, that’s what I’ve wanted to be. College football is just to get me through a four-year university.”
Being an artist, Minks knows exactly what type of music can get him into that perfect state of mind before a game.
“Just listening to the instrumentals of a song, it calms you down," he says. "You just close your eyes and think about yourself on the field making plays, and it can happen. It’s cool.”
For some like McDaniel, music goes deeper than just preparing you for big games.
“Music makes you feel like you can beat anyone, but you need music to bring it out of you," McDaniel says. "Music gives you answers in a way to who you are."