Success can be defined by some people as making a lot of money, having a nice house, having a nice car or having a great job. For Smyrna, Ga. resident Ali Sports success is more than material items and a great career.
Sports grew up in Conyers, Ga., where he found his love for baseball at an early age. As a child he would stay outside in his back yard for hours hitting balls off a tee and throwing tennis balls at a brick wall pretending he was fielding ground balls. Sports was willing to do whatever it took to be the best he could be. He grew up as the skinniest one of all his friends, and his grandmother would call him a “string-bean” because he was so small.
In high school, his “string-bean” figure quickly changed and he became one of the most muscular athletes in his school. He would spend multiple hours every day in the gym, trying to become faster, stronger and better for his love for baseball. He led his high school team with the highest batting average his junior year and became athlete of the year his senior year from hitting a game-winning walk-off in the playoffs. Unfortunately, his baseball career ended in his early years of college due to injuries. The one thing that stayed with him though was his desire to work out and train himself to be the best.
Sports always found time to go to the gym. Even if it meant that he had to work out at one or two a.m. Then on Oct. 29, 2017, working out became more than his way of escaping reality.
“I never wanted to be a bodybuilder, especially a professional at it,” said Sports. “I just worked out in high school to be the best I could be playing baseball. Then after college I kept working out because it became my escape from reality. People in the gym would always assume I was training for a big competition, but I always told them, nah that’s not for me.”
Sports was asked multiple times by trainers and other professional bodybuilders if they could coach him and they would ensure him that he would win. But Sports always turned them down until the summer of 2017 when former professional bodybuilder Lee “Hercules” Haney persuaded him into doing just one show.
“Former bodybuilding pros and coaches would ask me all the time if I would do a show for them, and I always told them that I’m either too busy, or I love to eat too much to do that,” said Sports. “Honestly, I never liked bodybuilding because I didn’t want an award because of my body, nobody needs that, everyone has their own unique body. But Haney really did change my mind. I just couldn’t believe that guy believed in me so much, like he is known as one of the greatest, up there with Arnold. I was in great shape, but I wasn’t one of those monster bodybuilders you see on tv.”
Sports agreed to compete in the bathing suit competition at the Georgia Intel Convention Center because he was willing to allow himself to have three months of strict dieting and full commitment to the competition.
“Sports was like a walking machine when he was preparing for that show,” said Christian Fryslie, Sports’ long-time friend and roommate. “He was on this constant routine where he would wake up and go do cardio, go to work and then work out again. All while he was basically living off of rice and chicken.”
Everyday Sports became weary if the competition was right for him. He had doubts fill his head of him being embarrassed that he would not come close to winning or would look silly on stage in front of his dearest friends that were going to watch him.
“When I went to the competition it was definitely more than what I expected,” said Jake Gresham, Sports’ childhood friend. “The first set of guys on the stage were a bunch of old buff men in thongs dancing and flexing their muscles. Then the bathing suit competition started, and Sports came out there and killed it. He blew everyone away.”
Sports won the competition winning every award, including best abs, best physique and overall best competitor. Those victories promoted him to be a professional bodybuilder and it was unheard of for someone to win every award and become a pro that fast.
“If you told me in high school, that I would become a professional bodybuilder one day, I would have probably laughed at you,” said Sports. “Even though I am a pro now and have been asked to compete in shows where I could win some serious money, I still don’t have the desire to do it. I’m happy with my current job, body and life right now. But I am thankful for all the lessons that I learned from that event. I pushed myself farther than I ever thought I could. It showed me that if you do whatever it is the best you possibly can, I mean the full 110 percent, then you will be successful no matter what, even if you lose.”