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Michael Clarke Duncan affects sports world

Actors John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, Leslie Bibb and Michael Clarke Duncan promote "Talladega Nights." Harry How/Getty Images for NASCAR

Athletes and sports celebrities joined millions of fans in mourning the loss of actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who died Monday at age 54 in Los Angeles after being hospitalized following a heart attack on July 13.

Duncan, who stood at an imposing 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, wanted in high school to play football but tried his hand at acting instead because his mother feared he would get hurt. The former bodyguard for Will Smith and Notorious B.I.G. was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1999 for his role in "The Green Mile" and appeared in several other films, including "Armageddon," "Planet of the Apes," "Kung Fu Panda" and "The Scorpion King," in which he costarred with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

Baseball also felt his loss.

When he was 21, Duncan was a participant in "Disco Demolition Night" at Chicago’s Comiskey Park on July 21, 1979.

He stormed the field, slid into third base and stole a bat during the riot that ensued following the infamous promotion when a dumpster full of disco records was blown up during intermission of scheduled twi-night doubleheader against Detroit. The second game was permanently forfeited by Chicago. Duncan lent his voice to narrate the White Sox's 2005 World Series championship video.

In 2012, Duncan told the Chicago Tribune that he was a "huge White Sox fan and Kenny Williams, the general manager of the Sox, is a good friend." Williams, in statement Monday, called Duncan: "The nicest, kindest guy anyone could ever know. He was a great fan of the Chicago White Sox and often called me to offer advice. His friendship will be missed.”

Duncan joined his Entertainment League basketball teammates -- including Brian McKnight, Nelly and Donald Faison -- in a charity preseason "Battle of the Sexes" game against the Chicago Sky on June 2, 2009. The WNBA players won, 102-55.

Duncan was left humbled by the experience.

"Never underestimate your opponent," Duncan said after that game. "I think we came in here thinking because we're men we underestimated them. Now we're going back to L.A. with our tails between our legs. It was a good game."

During that game, Duncan had his shot blocked by Chen Nan of the Sky, who stood at 6-8. In 2012, Duncan talked about that experience while making a promotional appearance for the since-canceled Fox TV show "The Finder" with costar and fellow Entertainment League player Geoff Stults.

That same night in 2009, Duncan discussed his support for Chicago's 2016 unsuccessful Olympic bid -- and his appetite -- in this YouTube clip:

His favorite Olympic sport: gymnastics. "A lot of guys say you get strong by lifting weights," he said. "But those gymnasts are strong. ... Until you can pull yourself up ... and spread your arms, that's strong."

Duncan's impact was more than passing for this NASCAR driver:

He was also fan of the octagon.

Duncan, a former ditch-digger, was always up for new challenges. He issued this MMA offer -- posted on YouTube in 2009 -- in which he said he "could take anybody down" thanks to his jujitsu skills and would fight anyone "for a lot of money."

If you see any offbeat links from your favorite sports site or catchy tweets that might be of interest to others, pass them along to me @billsperos or bsperos1@gmail.com.