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Who is considered the best athlete-turned-musician? I think it is one of these three: Wayman Tisdale (jazz), Shaquille O’Neal (rap) or Bernie Williams (soft jazz). What do you say?
— Nelson Jimenez, Stamford, Conn.
I like your mention of late NBA star Tisdale and retired New York Yankee Williams, both of them accomplished musicians. But you’re being a tad generous by including the Big Aristotle, who’s not exactly renowned for busting rhymes. Other examples of athletes-turned-musicians include boxer Oscar de la Hoya, who recorded a pretty cheesy Latin pop album that, astonishingly, was nominated for a Grammy; tennis player John McEnroe, who wielded a rock-and-roll axe for The Johnny Smyth Band back in the 1990s; soccer star Alexi Lalas, who fronted a band called Gypsies that opened for Hootie and the Blowfish during their 1998 European tour; and Deion Sanders, who recorded a poorly received funk album called “Prime Time” that was released in 1995. I’ll go with Tisdale, who got his musical start playing bass guitar at his dad’s church and ultimately mastered the instrument and recorded eight jazz albums prior to his tragic death in 2009. One of those albums, “Face to Face,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard contemporary jazz chart.
I’ll tell you who it’s not: track star Carl Lewis, whose best-known musical foray was his legendary butchering of the National Anthem prior to a Bulls-Nets game in 1993 — proof that most athletes should stick to sports.
— Rob Doster, Senior Editor