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Common Was a Chicago Bulls Ball Boy Before Being a Rapper

Rob Kim, Getty Images

Common‘s love for the game — the rapper took a turn playing a basketball player in the 2009 romantic comedy ‘Just Wright’ — is old news. But, back when the 39-year-old spitter was just little Lonnie Lynn, Jr. growing up on 87th St. and Stony Island in Chicago’s South Side, Common was already showing his devotion to, not only his hometown team the Chicago Bulls, but the hardwood court.

“When I was 11, till maybe 13 [1983–85 seasons], I was a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls,” Common told TimeOut Chicago recently. “I came in on a year when they weren’t that great, but they had some cool players like Quintin Dailey, Ennis Whatley and Orlando Woolridge. But after a year, a man by the name of Michael Jordan came in.”

His Airness joined the Bulls in 1984, quickly achieving All-Star status, Rookie of the Year and leading the Bulls to the first round of playoffs (which they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.) Common would have to wait another six years until Jordan and the Bulls won a NBA Championship, after which another five followed.

“I will never forget seeing Jordan play a song in the locker room during the first exhibition game and the general manager, Rod Thorn, saying to him he can’t play music, that’s the rule,” Common stated. “But after the second exhibition game they told him he could play whatever he wanted because he was that good. Just to be around that kind of transition, and getting to bond [with] and meet Michael Jordan and all those cats, was obviously one of the best experiences you could ever have in life.”

The jack of all trades also got more candid about his hip-hop roots, revealing he became a hip-hop fan by listening to the University of Chicago’s community radio station WHPK.

“Growing up in Chicago, you weren’t biased to a certain coast; you could just be a hip-hop listener, and they played it all … Chicago also just gave me a chance to hear music from all walks of life,” he said. “Chicago is in touch with all the soul music that existed: In 2011 you can turn on the radio and feel like you’re listening in the ’70s. Chicago is just very soulful.”

Common will next appear in the Disney film ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green.’ His ninth studio album will be titled ‘The Dreamer, The Believer’ but has no definite release date.

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