DAVIE, Fla. – Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan has sold millions of records and traveled the world performing his music during his 25-year career. But according to the longtime hip-hop artist, there is something particularly humbling about a parent choosing to name their child after his rap moniker.
Miami Dolphins rookie Raekwon McMillan, 20, was named after the hip-hop icon, whose real name is Corey Woods. McMillan’s mother, Monica Washington, is a fan of the Wu-Tang Clan and was inspired by Raekwon’s music in the 1990s.
Only recently did word get back to the elder Raekwon, as McMillan rose through the ranks as a standout middle linebacker at Ohio State and now second-round pick of the Dolphins two weeks ago.
“It's a blessing to be able to get that kind of support from people that you never met, and they get an inspiration from you based on your talent and your work ethic in the music business,” Raekwon said in a telephone interview with ESPN.com. “It's an honor. I feel honored. I'm happy that I can be some kind of inspiration to somebody to pass down to their family. That's a beautiful thing.”
McMillan wants to meet his hip-hop namesake and the feeling is mutual. The two briefly communicated over social media, according to McMillan, but that was the extent of it.
“It would be cool to do a photoshoot together,” McMillan said during Miami's rookie minicamp. “Raekwon and 'The Chef,' it sounds cool. I will probably do a little celebration or sack celebration [this season] and mix in 'The Chef' to pay my respects.”
McMillan is not alone. According to the Social Security Administration, there were 1,459 documented children named Raekwon, and all were born between the years of 1995 and 1999. It is not a stretch to assume many – if not most or all – were inspired by Raekwon’s music.
The Wu-Tang Clan burst on the scene in 1992 with its debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” and Raekwon’s first solo album, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx," was released in 1995. Both were labeled classics among hip-hop critics as Raekwon’s popularity grew immensely during that period.
Among those 1,459 children named Raekwon, 445 were born in 1996. That was one year after “Cuban Linx” and the same year McMillan was born.
Raekwon was unaware how many children were given his name in the 1990s.
“That's crazy right there. Almost 1,500?” he said. “That’s 1,500 Chefs and 1,500 ways out there, right? That's fly right there. It ain't enough honor to put on the table to tell you how honored I am right now about that.”
McMillan said he is too young to know as much about the Wu-Tang Clan and Raekwon’s music as his mother does. But he likes what he’s heard from his namesake.
“It’s some solid music,” McMillan said. “I haven’t really dug deep into it, because it’s a little bit before my era. But when I do listen to it, it’s some cool stuff.”
Besides the name, the two also have sports in common. Raekwon was a quarterback in football and pitcher and third baseman in baseball. He said he developed his strong arm throwing rocks and apples at buses as a youth in Staten Island, New York.
“It was all about who could throw the farthest,” Raekwon said.
A meeting of the Raekwons may eventually take place. Until then, the elder Raekwon said his message to McMillan is to represent the “powerful name” and keep living his dreams.
“I would definitely love to meet him, come to the game and support him and be the uncle that he never knew," Raekwon said of the Dolphins rookie. "That's what it's about: I'm 'Uncle Chef' now.”