Weird Athlete Portraits
Like booze and human mortality, the portrait (self, or taken by another) transcends class and culture. And when you live in an era when nearly everyone walks around with a pretty good version of a digital camera in their pocket, there are no shortage of opportunities to snap an interesting pic of yourself and/or a friend.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and countless social media sites offer a platform to show off how amazing, or not-so-amazing, any given moment of our lives can be—and if you prefer to be the audience rather than the subject, millions of shared pics are waiting.
Athletes, like the rest of us, aren't immune to the micro-gratification of showing the world a captured piece of their life and have turned to social media to share moments of true weirdness with the rest of us.
Here are some very weird athlete portraits.
Former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson just enjoying a cigar with a friend—Bert from Sesame Street. Given his outgoing personality, I probably would’ve pegged the artist formerly known as Ochocinco for an Ernie guy. Suppose opposites do attract.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, NBA free agent Carmelo Anthony posed for this official photoshoot back in May 2005. Rocking jeans, a tank top and a puppy, some context for this one would have been truly appreciated. Though it's not required to appreciate the portrait's weirdness.
This photo of surfer Kelly Slater was taken a few years back after he won an event in Tahiti. A local beer brand (Hinano) made a couple of signature cans commemorating the world titles he won and, naturally, someone poured them into his mouth from a boat. The result was one very weird, and very entertaining, portrait.
Texas A&M defensive back De'Vante Harris and his lady friend (maybe his girlfriend, maybe his wife, maybe a friend with boundary issues) go full-on senior photo for this portrait. Take either one out of it and it looks just like one of those awkward, unusable photos in every bunch that you knew wouldn’t work but the photographer insisted on taking.
Lions safety James Ihedigbo has posted a few Throwback Thursday photos on Instagram, but this one of him and his (now) wife certainly has a different…flavor…than the other ones. Not sure when exactly this is a throwback to, but probably to a time when a professional photographer felt a little awkward.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis spent a little time this offseason in Hawaii, which is obviously where he posed for this kooky photo. The whole thing raises a lot of questions, chief among them being why is he wearing shoes in that pool? Or is it a fountain?
Yao Ming and Kevin Garnett
Some of the official portraits taken at the 2003-04 NBA All-Star game are absolutely priceless. Though they’re all worth checking out, those featuring former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming and current Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Garnett are particularly amazing. The theme seems to be Garnett feeling different emotions about Ming’s height.
Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is already a bona fide superstar, and we’re still weeks away from the NFL draft! Every other photo he posts on Instagram is of him mingling with celebrities and other athletes. This is a rare portrait of him trying to relate one of the common folk.
Vikings place-kicker Blair Walsh recently posted this self portrait to Instagram—#bestfriends. His best friend in this case apparently being the Bulldog cozy that tops one of his golf clubs. Or maybe Walsh was talking about the golf clubs themselves?
As one of the more colorful characters in any sport, Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee’s Instagram page is pretty much overrun with weird portraits. Some of himself, some of others, almost all worth seeing. It wasn’t easy narrowing it down, but this one with the small seedless watermelon halves and absolutely no context really stood out among the weirdest.
Official MLB portraits at spring training are always pretty weird—you can tell the photographer runs out of ideas at some point and just gets all Zoolander on the players. This photo of Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista is a perfect example of that. He’s either being instructed to pop his imaginary collar or put up his dukes; either way, it’s all kinds of weird.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison is kind of a weird guy—“kind of” being kind of an understatement in this case. Generally he posts scary things to Instagram (him hunting, him being jabbed with dozens of needles, his child playing with a questionably large dog), this weirdly happy selfie of him at the barber shop is a fun change.
First of all, if you’re not following Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn on Instagram, you should be. It’s a never-ending parade of amazing, and often amazingly weird, photos. This weird-ass portrait of him and his cousin is just the tip of the iceberg. They’re both making surprisingly weird faces, but the cousin’s shirt is what defines the whole scene.
This is one of those weird scenes you only see courtside at NBA games—particularly Knicks and Lakers games. In the foreground, you’ve got former New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and his wife, Lauran, randomly sitting with Twilight actor Kellan Lutz and his bro. In the background, you’ve got comedian Joel McHale completely oblivious.
Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant took this odd selfie in the cold tub a couple of months ago. Athletes are always posting photos of their various treatments for various ailments, but this one is just a bit weirder than most. Probably because KD is making a face that suggests he should be alone in his bed with a lady on the line expecting a pic.
Speaking of Kevin Durant’s weirdo portraits! The seductive cold tub one was good, this one with Hangover actor Ken Jeong is even better. Everything about it is weird. The height difference. KD’s fantastically bright top, strangely paired with jeans. The fact that they look like they’re posing for two different photos. All in all...perfection.
One of the weirder portraits of this bunch is Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush running underwater in a pool. Wherever he’s heading, that pizza is going to be an absolute disaster by the time he gets there. Oh, and there’s no way that cellphone survived the trip either.
Retired boxer Mike Tyson posted this fascinating fan photo on Instagram a couple of years ago. While it’s not a real live portrait of the man himself, methinks this epic tribute counts just the same. This is definitely one of the weirdest shirts…maybe ever.
And here we’ve got another weird MLB portrait. The photographer for the shoot actually asked Twins catcher Chris Herrmann to juggle—this is just one in a series of Herrmann in mid-juggle. Apparently he was game, and for that we thank him.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes and his wife, Gloria Govan, redefine awkward family photos with this boudoir photo that has obviously escaped the boudoir. There are some things that couples should keep private—this photo is definitely one of them.
Everything about this portrait of Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is weird. The graffiti on the walls. The mounted animal heads. The graffiti on the mounted animal heads. The Pharrell Williams hat. The goofy face LeBron is making. Actually, given the rest of the scene, the goofy face is the only thing that makes any sense.