Over the last six years, some of the most popular rap songs have made their way into the funniest and most poignant moments in sports culture. As is usually the case in a post-Twitter world, more than a few of those instances have gone viral.
One moment took place when LeBron James unveiled his short-lived baldy look. The song he chooses to soundtrack that moment—one he punctuates with some hyper-animated facial expressions—is priceless. Meanwhile, Olympic Gold medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps delivered a viral moment of his own while listening to one Atlanta superstar to get in the zone for a race at the 2016 Olympics.
Taking the field at the 2018 Super Bowl at Minneapolis, Minn.'s U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4, 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles took a moment to recognize the then-incarcerated Meek Mill by running out of the tunnel to the sounds of "Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)," the intro song for his Dreams and Nightmares album. Within minutes, the sports moment spread on social media and became a gesture fans won't be forgetting for a long time.
On a lighter, more recent side of things, Common did something unprecedented when he pulled up at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago last month. After serving up a spoken word tribute to Chicago legends and the late Kobe Bryant, Com proceeded to introduce the members of each NBA All-Star team by rhyming the name of every single starter with one of his lyrics. Naturally, Common began trending immediately as fans got their jokes off.
Other hip-hop-fueled, athlete viral moments include one NBA star's trick shot, an NFL player going full fan-mode on the sidelines and more.
XXL takes a look at 11 times hip-hop fueled wild athlete moments, with everything from hilarious to poetic to somewhere in between.
Philadelphia Eagles Run Out to Meek Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)"
The Philadelphia Eagles showed major love for Meek Mill when they made "Dreams and Nightmares (Intro)" the song they sprinted out to at the 2020 Super Bowl. At the time, Meek was locked up for what many considered an unjust stipulation of his decade-long probation. Solidarity never sounded so good.
Common Raps Player Introductions at All-Star Game
Common is known as one of rap's great wordsmiths, but fans couldn't help but get their jokes off when he tried his hand at rapping the names of NBA players during the team introductions at the 2020 NBA All-Star game last month. Rhyming the words "Giannis Antetokounmpo" with "refusal" was the highlight of the freestyle. Safe to say it was the most viral NBA All-Star intro ever.
Rich Homie Quan Celebrates With Michigan State University
The connection between Rich Homie Quan and Michigan State University started after the football team's head coach gave Quan a shout-out after the team won the Big Ten Championship in December 2013. A month later, Quan pulled up to see the squad celebrate winning the 2014 Rose Bowl by delivering an a cappella rendition of his breakout 2013 song, "Type of Way." While there's not exactly a list for all-time great celebrations, this one's got to rank highly.
Michael Phelps Serves Mean Mug While Listening to Future
Before an August 2016 race at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro, legendary swimmer Michael Phelps served a mean mug that looked like either a kid that's just been told to go to his room or the most hated man in the world. Within minutes, his facial expression went viral. Unbeknownst to fans, he had no control over his facial expression because Future's "Stick Talk" was blasting from his earphones. He admitted as much while introducing Hendrix at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards that same month.
LeBron James Debuts Bald Head While Listening to Tee Grizzley
LeBron James has never rocked a baldy on a consistent basis, but the first time he showed off that particular cut, he did so with a hilarious video he uploaded to his Instagram story in 2017. For the clip, he makes a variety of twitchy, purposefully exaggerated facial expressions as he raps the lyrics to Tee Grizzley's "First Day Out" with the comfort and enthusiasm of a fan who's heard the song for the thousandth time.
New York Giants Do the Mannequin Challenge With Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles"
At the peak of Rae Sremmurd's Mannequin Challenge—which was a viral trend powered by their multi-platinum single "Black Beatles"—the New York Giants delivered their own sterling entry into the viral phenomenon. The video's been seen millions of times on YouTube and stands as one of the biggest Mannequin Challenges that actually featured "Black Beatles."
Denver Broncos Quarterback Drew Lock Raps to Jeezy
Denver Broncos Quarterback Drew Lock's inner fan surfaced while he sat on the sidelines during a Denver Broncos game in December 2019. For the moment, he easily mouthed the lyrics to one of Jeezy's verses on "Put On."
Reacting to a video of his rap session, Lock couldn't help but be surprised—and a little impressed. "Gosh dang it," he said in a video reaction to the clip. "I was spittin' though."
Russell Westbrook Dances to Travis Scott's "Sicko Mode"
Russell Westbrook's pre-game bench dancing is always a show unto itself, but one of his more particularly memorable performances came when he dribbled and danced to the Travis Scott and Drake's 2018 track "Sicko Mode" back in January 2019. The Brodie in his element is always a sight to see, and since then, he's teamed up with James Harden for other entertaining sideline dance sessions.
Odell Beckham Jr. Dances to "Juju on That Beat" at 2017 Pro Bowl
Odell Beckham Jr. is known for his incredible balance and coordination on the gridiron, but he showcased his elite body control in a different way with his dance moves at the NFL's 2017 Pro Bowl in January 2017. The video of Beckham dancing to Zay Hilfigerrr and Zayion McCall's "Juju on That Beat" eventually earned millions of views on YouTube.
John Wall Breaks Out the Dougie During Player Introductions
At the start of his career with the Washington Wizards in 2010, John Wall would do the Dougie to Cali Swag District's "Teach Me How to Dougie." While the moment wasn't as viral at the time, it's lived on in gifs and plenty of memes since. Long live the John Wall Dougie.
Trae Young Drains a Trick Shot to a Migos Ad-lib
Draining a three-pointer from the sideline is incredibly difficult, but doing so at the precise moment as a rapper shouts an ad-lib corresponding to basketball just doesn't happen—unless you're Trae Young. On Dec. 13, 2019, Trae drained the trick shot at the exact moment Migos' "splash" ad-lib from their 2017 song "Slippery" rung throughout the arena. After draining the shot, Trae stands up, winks at the camera and goes on about his business, certifying a supremely cool moment.