In sports players build their reputations around their name. Most sports teams’ jerseys have player names on them, fans buy player memorabilia with player names on them, and they’re even on the programs. So what happens when someone changes their name? Some names can be amusing, some are due to religious beliefs and in some rare and strange cases some can be marketing schemes.
In January, gaming company 888.com offered Indianapolis Colts receiver Hakeem Nicks $88,000 to be donated to the charity of his choice if he agreed to change his name to Hakeem 888.com for the 2014-2015 NFL season. Nicks, who was with the Giants at the time and wore the number 88, would have been the first NFL player to legally change his name to share the likeness of a website. Ultimately though, Nicks chose not to bite on the websites offer and kept his birth name.
A name can mean a lot of things. It can relate to a legacy or a performance and it can bring up memories both good and bad. So when an athlete changes their name they’re changing who they are to the sports community, sometimes for the strangest reasons.
10 Will Peterson Jr. to William James
9 Walker Smith Jr to Sugar Ray Robinson
8 Lloyd Bernard Free to World B. Free
7 Jim Hellwig to Warrior
6 Fuahea Semi to Bruno Banani
5 Marvin Hagler to Marvelous Marvin Hagler
4 Mark Duper to Mark Super Duper
3 Greg White to Stylez G. White
2 Chad Johnson to Chad Ochocinco and back to Chad Johnson
1 Ron Artest to Metta World Peace
In 2011 Ron Artest perplexed sports fans everywhere when he announced that he’d changed his name to Metta World Peace. Metta is one of the 10 Paramitas of Buddhism, standing for loving kindness or compassion. When asked about his name change Artest said that it was meant to “inspire and bring youth together around the world.” After spending over ten years in the NBA and winning one Defensive Player of the Year Award as Ron Artest, World Peace s certainly inspiring the youth to do something; scratch their heads and ask “why?”
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