This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 2 Music Issue. Subscribe today!
BEFORE DRAKE, Lil Wayne and Jay Z, there was Snoop Dogg rapping about gin and juice while wearing a Penguins jersey on the streets of his native Long Beach, California. That was more than 20 years ago, and Snoop is still cross-pollinating. "It's always been a good match," Snoop says of the connection between musicians and athletes. "We all came from the same communities. We could've been athletes, they could've been entertainers. It's just the path that we chose. These are some of the traits that come with growing up in the inner city, and we strengthen ourselves with sports, music and entertainment."
Over the past two decades, Snoop's collection of sports titles has grown as quickly as his album sales (30 million sold, for the record): FIFA spokesman, director of football development at Adidas, X Games headliner. There are few jerseys he hasn't donned, with allegiances ranging from the Dodgers to the Lakers, Trojans, Steelers and, of course, those Penguins. But the team he roots for most nowadays is truly his own. The Snoop Youth Football League, approaching its 10th season, started with a modest goal to provide inner-city youth a chance to play football, and today it's a legitimate pipeline for pigskin talent. Scores of D1 players and four NFLers -- including running backs Ronnie Hillman of Denver and De'Anthony Thomas of Kansas City -- got their start under Snoop. "To be able to teach and to mentor and mold these kids means more than my music because my music doesn't do that," says Snoop, who this spring will drop a new album, Bush, produced by Pharrell.
But which SYFL product is Snoop proudest of? That'd be his son Cordell Broadus. The 17-year-old four-star recruit is deciding between UCLA and his father's beloved USC, among other schools. But Snoop, whose relationship with Cordell is featured in the ESPN five-part series Snoop & Son, which debuted Jan. 14, admits, "He started off as one of the sorriest kids on this team." But like all successful athletes and entertainers, "he's a workaholic, he wants to be great."
Check out images from Snoop Dogg's Snooperbowl.