“I swear sports and music are so synonymous/Cause we want to be them, and they want to be us” – Drake, “Thank Me Now”
From his days playing basketball at Degrassi Community School to finding himself in the middle of the latest LeBron James decision, no one is more of a sports fan than Drake. He’s been called a “team-jumper” or “fair weather fan” based on his association with any athlete experiencing success. But he swears he’s not being opportunistic — they’re just all really good friends.
As host of the 2014 ESPY Awards, Drake will be tasked with celebrating these friends and heroes, while also making those at home laugh so much we snort Gatorade out of our noses. “I think what makes a perfect ESPYS host is obviously somebody that can fill the room with energy and joy for the people that are in the seats,” he said during last week’s press conference for the upcoming show. “But I think most importantly what I bring is the fact that I feel that I know the room better than any host before me just because so many of these guys I have personal relationships with. I think I’m going to be able to tap into some jokes that will be appreciated by my friends in the crowd and also the athletes that I don’t know.” He’s also the perfect guy for the job because there’s nothing he enjoys more than being a fan. Basketball, football, baseball, soccer, tennis, your grandmother’s backgammon — Aubrey will never pass up the opportunity to get involved in a major athletic event. While he tends to keep his shirt on, his gametime reactions still rival those of Rihanna at the World Cup final.
To prepare for tonight’s big show, get familiar with Drake’s biggest superfan moments. It’s nice to see someone with his own grotto still get excited when a grown man puts a ball through a hoop.
1. When he found a way to get his own personalized NCAA Championship ring.
According to Drake, two teams he’ll never stray from are the Toronto Raptors and the Kentucky Wildcats. He’s proven his allegiance to the latter by attending games at Rupp Arena, coaching during the school’s annual Blue Madness event, and yucking it up with head coach John Calipari—the man he says inspired him to finish high school. With such a strong bond, it’s only right that Drake receive a NCAA Championship ring of his own after the Wildcats went all the way. Because he helped the 2011-12 squad win each and every game, and carried the players throughout the maddening month that is the NCAA Tournament.
2. When he celebrated the Miami Heat’s 2013 championship while eating pizza. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVcJZQtQjJI He doesn’t need to worry about getting stiff-armed at the locker room door when he can nibble on team pizza and dance with King James and D-Wade. 3. When he was caught using a lint roller at a 2014 NBA playoff game.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) July 15, 2014
This spring, Drake’s beloved Raptors made it to the playoffs. With primetime games and international spotlight, Aubrey wouldn’t dare be caught cheering courtside with fuzz on his pants. He respects his team too much.
4. When he promoted Toronto Raptors-branded lint rollers.
Always quick to jump on a meme (especially when he is the inspiration), Drake and OVO officially endorsed the Raptor lint rollers, which were handed out at an April 30 home game.
5. When he got to announce the starting lineup for the Toronto Raptors.
Drake has been making every effort to promote his hometown since finding mainstream success in 2009. He’s shot a music video in the Rogers Centre, created an annual music festival, and he’s naming his fourth album after the city. But perhaps he’s most proud about working with the Toronto Raptors as a “host, business partner, and consultant,” as the team rebrands during the upcoming 2014-15 season, and prepares to host the 2016 All-Star weekend. One of the perks of scoring this newly-minted position with the team is getting to do the starting announcements (on “Drake Night”). Of course, Drake rose to the occasion (with a Chris Tucker joke).
6. When he released a song called “Draft Day.”
One of the newest members of the OVO family is former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The bromance is mutual — he’s got an OVO tattoo, Drake has Manziel’s face on a sweatshirt — but Drizzy took things to the next level when he nearly dedicated an entire song to NFL rookie.
7. When he toured the locker room during the 2012 NHL All-Star weekend.Drake was the official halftime entertainment at the 2012 NHL All-Star game, and he called the opportunity to perform on ice “one of the greatest honors [he has] ever received.” Even better than his feeding the egos of team executives and event planners on live television is watching Drake shake hands with beefy hockey players, making small talk about his days playing for the Weston Lions.
8. When he dropped in on a Seattle Seahawks practice and chatted up quarterback Russell Wilson.
If you are a winner or on the road to becoming one, Drake wants to meet you.
9. When he took it upon himself to try out for Toronto FC.
Drake’s soccer fandom runs deep: He’s previously decked himself out in Manchester United gear to talk shop with Rio Ferdinand, chilled post-game with Chelsea FC’s Didier Drogba, and pumped up Mario Balotelli. Again, don’t call him a team-jumper.
10. Every time he’s ever sat courtside at a basketball game.Especially when he’s with Ellen Pompeo.