Boris Kodjoe, from tennis star to action star

Wed, Sep 22

It's no coincidence that Boris Kodjoe, 37, plays athletes in almost every role that he takes on.

Boris Kodjoe
Richard Foreman/NBCU Photo Bank/AP Images)Boris Kodjoe plays an former CIA spy who's called back into action on the new J.J. Abrams show, "Undercovers."

A former athlete himself, Kodjoe -- he grew up in Vienna, Austria -- came to the United States in the '90s on a tennis scholarship at Virginia Commonwealth University. Back then, he didn't speak a word of English, and learned the language on the tennis courts. A four year letterman with 75 career singles wins on the men's tennis team, he wasn't too shabby.

Still, it was a nasty back injury that forced him to give up his dream of playing professionally; instead, he decided instead to focus on modeling and acting. He still sneaks some tennis in, playing with superstar tennis players (and good friends) Serena Williams and Boris Becker.

On Wednesday (at 8 p.m. EST), he heads to network TV in J.J. Abrams' "Undercovers," where he plays Steven Bloom, a former athlete who's an ex-spy that gets called back to duty.

So you came here to the states on a tennis scholarship …

"I grew up playing tennis. When I was like three years-old, that was all I wanted to do and I had my sights set on playing professional, and when I was 18 I got injured. I hurt my back and took a long break and after that, I decided to go to college, came here, went to VCU in Virginia, got my degree and stuck around a little bit."

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