With Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, Billboard is spotlighting Latin artists who, before making waves in the music industry, were first athletes.
Prior to becoming one of Latin music’s most emblematic artists with timeless hits such as “Me Olvidé de Vivir” and “De Niña a Mujer,” Julio Iglesias was a goalkeeper for Real Madrid Castilla in the Segunda División. Former professional boxer Oscar de la Hoya hit No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs in 2000 with his romantic pop “Ven a Mi.”
Like Iglesias and De La Hoya, other sportsmen have dipped their toes in the music industry. Check out the list below.
Carlos Arroyo kicked off his music career in 2009, collaborating with artists such as Yomo and Ivy Queen. But from 2001 to 2011, he played for various NBA teams, including Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, becoming the fifth Puerto Rican player to play in the NBA. Earlier this year, Arroyo returned to music with a fiery collaboration with Zion & Lennox and is currently making the rounds with his Farruko-assisted “Aruba.”
From 2008 to 2014, José Manuel Pinto was a professional soccer goalkeeper for Barcelona FC. He retired from sports to produce music under the artistic name Pinto “Wahin.” As a music artist, Wahin’s “La Habana,” featuring Cuban artist El Taiger, formed part of the Fate of the Furious music soundtrack, he won a Latin Grammy in 2016 as the sound engineer on Niña Pastori’s album Amame Como Soy, and he’s collaborated with artists such as CNCO and Lali.
Before discovering his passion for music, Spanish pop crooner Melendi was a sports lover, testing his luck in racing and soccer. Melendi, known for songs such as “Destino o Casualidad,” “La Promesa” and “Tu Jardín con Enanitos,” played in the lower ranks of the Oviedo-based team Astur Club de Fútbol. In the early 2000s, he officially kicked off his music career with the release of his debut album Sin Noticias de Holanda.
In 2016, Billboard announced that soccer player Jese Rodriguez, then a striker for Real Madrid, debuted his reggaetonero alter ego Jey M. His debut single “Yo Sabia” counts a star-studded remix that includes reggaeton veterans Alexis & Fido, De La Ghetto, and the up-and-coming Alex Rose. Currently playing as a forward for Paris Saint-German or the Premier League in England, Jey M continues his music career with songs such as “Tarjeta Roja.”