Heavy D's passing inspires sports list
You remember the Fat Boys' "All You Can Eat" scene in the 1980s cult classic "Krush Groove," right? Of course you do. That was their shtick. They were three Chris Farleys, except they were from Brooklyn, rocked adidas sweatsuits and could rap and beat box. But in a lot of ways they were a joke that they were in on. Typical fat dude stuff.
Then, in 1987, Heavy D and The Boyz dropped "Living Large," featuring "The Overweight Lovers in the House" as probably its most memorable single and video. Here was this big dude spitting imagery about sitting with his "smoking jacket on" and seducing a woman by the fireplace one verse, and "rolling around in the sand" and showing her "Heavy D's game plan" in another. That was new terrain, folks. Not to mention he's in the video hopping around the stage like a 300-pound Bobby Brown.
Before Biggie and Rick Ross there was Heavy D. But Heavy was different. He'd try to play hard every once in a while, but we all knew the deal. Hev was the pretty-boy fat dude who made a lot of songs for and about the ladies and -- unlike Big and Rozay -- was dancing and smiling all the time like, all the time. In his videos? Dancing and smiling. Guest spot on "A Different World"? Dancing and smiling.
Heavy D died Tuesday. It was a sad day for '80s hip-hop fans. It was a surprise, too, since just last month Heavy D appeared on the BET Hip Hop Awards, kicking off his comeback with a performance in which, of course, he was dancing a lot. Looking back, seems like he did more dancing than rapping. And he could move. He was the nimblest, most agile big dude in music history.
In honor of the light-footed, always-happy, XXXL ladies' man rapper -- who also appeared in the Michael Jackson/Michael Jordan "Jam" video, after a good three minutes of pop star MJ crawling between basketball MJ's legs trying to steal the ball -- we shout out 10 athletes that embodied the Heavster in some salient way.
John Daly: Before Long John lost all that weight, he was a beer belly lout. He lacked Heavy's charm. But he did make a foray into music. He got Hootie and Willie Nelson and some others to appear on his album "My Life." He sang background vocals on Kid Rock's "Half Your Age." One thing's for sure, though -- he was no Heavy D especially not, "Heavy in full bore Casanova Mode."
William "Refrigerator" Perry: They listed Fridge at 325. Man, psssshhhht. Four bills, easy. But he did non-Fat Boy Box things, like rush for touchdowns in Super Bowls. He was crazy agile. Fridge could dunk, even though he was just 6-foot-2.
Charles "Round Mound of Rebound" Barkley: The Heavster wasn't a punk or anything, but he probably wasn't throwing cats through bar windows. But through it all, Barkley has always had that jovial side. And have we ever seen a big guy as freakishly athletic as Chuck? Nope. As for his dancing? I've seen Chuck doing his thing in VIP before he's a better rebounder.
Jerome "The Bus" Bettis: A pretty boy, like Hev. Bettis is known throughout the country for having the tightest shape-up/beard combo in the history of sports. Google it. Everyone is fascinated.
John "Hot Plate" Williams: Hot Plate went from chubby collegiate at LSU to a somewhat svelte pro with Washington and then to a balloon with the Clippers. He never panned out in the pros, but he had "flashes" all the time. He's kind of mythical in some circles, probably because he was such a bad dude at LSU (too bad there's very little footage). For those under 35, picture Khalid El-Amin, except he was 6-8.
John Kruk: His nickname is Rhino. He wrote a book entitled "I Ain't an Athlete, Lady." And just like Heavy kept more than busy acting after his rap career, Kruk has been a wisecracking staple on sports shows since he stopped wheezing around baseball diamonds.
"Hangover" Mike Tyson: Not '80s "Iron" Mike, the most feared man on the planet; but the bloated cameo king. The "Funny or Die" Mike Tyson doing the running man with Wayne Brady and Bobby Brown.
Prince Fielder: "Blue Funk" era Heavy D.
George Foreman: Not the hulking monster that literally beat the late, great Joe Frazier silly, but the big, cherubic, Buddha-belly Foreman who smiled as much as Heavy. The one who always seemed like he had been huffing laughing gas. Sitcom "George." The 24/7 cheesin' salesman who manufactures grills for college students.
Vincent Thomas is a SLAM magazine columnist and a frequent contributing columnist and commentator for ESPN. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @vincecathomas on Twitter.