When you watch A. J. Green tear apart opposing NFL defenses week after week, it’s easy to assume that he grew up with a football in his hand. But in truth, Green didn’t play football until 8th grade—heck, the dude didn’t play sports period until middle school.
So how did young A. J. Green fill his free time? With a totally cool, not-embarrassing-at-all hobby—juggling.
Green spoke about his childhood hobby at a recent event at the Boys and Girls Club of Cincinnati.
“[Juggling] was the first sport I ever loved. Well, I don’t know if that’s considered a sport, but that’s the first team I was actually a part of—a juggling team. I started when I was in first grade, and when I got to fifth grade I used to perform at halftime of the high school basketball games. And then I got to sixth grade and said, ‘eh, this isn’t so cool anymore.’ So I wanted to play some real sports,” he said.
Soon enough, Green went from juggling at halftime to dominating in two sports. During his time at Summerville High School, he was named South Carolina’s Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball, and he led his teams to state championships in both sports.
We’re guessing that the crowds who watched a lanky, pre-teen Green juggle during intermission never envisioned that in a few short years, he’d be making plays like this in the NFL:
Juggling might seem like a dorky hobby, but anyone who’s ever tried it knows it takes an insane level of hand-eye coordination—just like playing wide receiver. If he hadn’t juggled as a kid, who knows whether Green would have become such a phenomenal football player. “[Juggling] gave me hand-eye coordination. When the football is in my area, that is all I see—I don’t care what else is around me,” Green told USA Today in 2011.
Check out Green’s juggling skills in the video player at the top of this article.