For many true country music performers, the bug to write, sing, and play country music bit them at an early age, and never left. Regardless of the financial hardship or adversity they face, they would never stop playing country music because it’s their life’s purpose. It’s the only passion they’ve ever known, and they’ve sunk their heart and soul and years of their lives into it.
For others, country music is simply a vehicle for fame and riches. It’s so easy these days to write and perform a “country” hit, almost anyone can do it. In fact the unique talent that it takes to make it in country music today is often the ability to completely remove any self respect or personal will and just do what you think will sell, or whatever a producer tells you.
We’ve seen this unique lack of passion and skill combined with a willingness to do whatever it takes to be famous in country from many of today’s mainstream country stars. Specifically, many of them first tried to make it in professional sports before flunking out or getting sidelined with injury, and only then picking up a guitar. Here are some of them.
Sam Hunt – Football
Sam Hunt was dud on the football field way before he would start doing his best to destroy country music by releasing EDM pop songs to the format. A decent high school player, he was a starting quarterback for Cedartown High School in Georgia where he grew up. He was named the 2002 Co-Offensive Player of the Year in his region, and received consideration for the Wendy’s High School Heisman.
But Sam Hunt’s college career was dreadful. Only able to receive an invite to Middle Tennessee State University, he didn’t play at all in 2003, and in 2004, only attempted one pass, and rushed for one yard. So he transferred to UAB, where it got even worse. He only played in seven games in 2006, completing two touchdowns, but with five interceptions. Sam was a scrambler, which came in handy because of his terrible accuracy and inability to work through progressions, racking up 159 yards on 69 rushes, and scoring one touchdown with his feet. In 2007, Hunt received more playing time at UAB, but the results were pretty much the same. Nonetheless, he tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs after graduating from UAB with a business degree in economics, and didn’t receive even a practice squad consideration from the pro team. It was only then that Sam turned to songwriting and music.
Brett Young – Baseball
Before Brett Young became arguably one of the most generic pop country men in the mainstream country industry, he was a baseball hopeful trying to make his way towards the major leagues. Young was a pitcher on the Calvary Chapel High School baseball team in Costa Mesa, California, winning a state championship during his tenure. Then in 1999 he went to Ole Miss on a full baseball scholarship. But during his time as a Rebel, Brett Young only earned 2 wins and 2 saves. He then played a season for Irvine Valley before moving to Fresno in 2003 as a college junior. While warming up in the bullpen to make a start, he blew out his right elbow five minutes before the game. It was an immediate career-ending injury. He was 21-years-old, an had never pursued music seriously until that point.
Colt Ford – Golf
That’s right, Jason Farris Brown, known professionally as country rap kingpen Colt Ford, was a bad professional golfer for eight years before he decided to give it up and get into the music business as a bad white rapper. Ford started playing golf when he was a kid growing up in Georgia, and played throughout college. As a pro he never made it onto the PGA tour, but instead was a mid pack guy on the Nike Tour and the Web.com Tour, and also worked as an instructor and coach for a short time before eventually failing out and deciding to pursue “music.” Since he couldn’t sing or play, he decided to start rapping since it fit his particularly low skill set, and unfortunately people were gullible enough to eat it up.
Colt Ford also owns Average Joes Entertainment, which is one of the biggest country rap labels, and wrote Jason Aldean’s mega country rap hit “Dirt Road Anthem.” Colt still regularly golfs while on tour.
Chase Rice – Football – NASCAR Pit Crew – ‘Survivor’ Contestant
Before Chase Rice was wearing flat-brimmed baseball caps and commanding women, “Get your little fine ass on the step, shimmy up inside” in shitty pop country songs, he was a football prospect. Though he was born in Florida, Chase Rice was raised in Asheville, North Carolina, playing football at AC Reynolds High School. He attended the University of North Carolina as a linebacker for the Tar Heels. It was there in a game in September 2007 that Rice injured his ankle playing outside linebacker against James Madison. The injury was so bad, it ended his football career on the spot.
Chase Rice would have a few more high-profile physical pursuits before making his way to “country” music. After graduating college, he worked for NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports as a rear tire carrier on crews for both Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson. After that he got a gig through a college friend as a contestant on the CBS Series Survivor during the show’s season in Nicaragua. Rice placed 2nd and won $100,000. After the show Rice took his winnings and moved to Nashville where he reconnected with Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line who he grew up with briefly in Florida. Helping to co-write Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” is what put Chase Rice on the map.
Jason Aldean – Baseball
Though unlike the others mentioned above, Jason Aldean was pursuing music early in his life and was looking to make a career of it, but baseball was a passion of his as well. Being a major leaguer was a big dream for Aldean growing up in Georgia. He was an all-district leadoff hitter for Windsor Academy—a private school in Macon. When he graduated, he fielded a few scholarship offers from colleges, but as a terrible student, he decided not to pursue them. He was hoping to be drafted by the Atlanta Braves, but when that didn’t happen, he instead decided to pursue music. Aldean still considers himself a big baseball and Braves fan.
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Country Music Hall of Famer Charley Pride was also a baseball player before pursuing country music, but unlike his contemporaries, was quite good, pitching in the negro leagues for the Memphis Red Sox and other teams before an injury hurt his velocity. Even then Pride continued to receive consideration and play minor league ball through baseball integration before deciding to pursue music full time. And though not a traditional sport, Chris LeDoux was a Hall of Fame rodeo champion before he got into music full time.