Don Cheadle on Playing Ball With LeBron, Golfing With Obama, and His Love of Fatherhood

Black and white headshot of actor Don Cheadle
Andreas Laszlo Konrath

Don Cheadle is a baller from way back. In his latest venture, the can’t-be-pigeonholed actor sheds his superhero status to play the villain in Space Jam 2: A New Legacy. Before he drops some wisdom, here’s a rapid-fire round to help you get to know the star a bit better.

  • I cook the best… When my wife cooks.
  • Favorite quote: When you’re wrong, apologize. When you’re right, say nothing.
  • I feel at home in… California.
  • Humble brag? I played golf with Obama recently. We bet. One of us won, and one of us lost.



Men’s Journal: Word on the street is you can play hoops—did you grow up playing?

Don Cheadle: We played in the driveway, but I never played organized ball. It wasn’t until I graduated from CalArts and got the job on Fame that I started playing with Jesse Borrego. He was a huge basketball freak and the one who reinstituted it back into my life. My love for it never died until my knees took care of that.

Game over?

It happened not too long after I played with 44. We had a nice, spirited game, and the next day it was hard to get off the couch. It’s different now. I miss it. Greatly.

Did you get to ball with LeBron?

We never played officially. He was on the IR at the time and trying to work back into it. He was also practicing at night with the team. We tried to make sure we didn’t risk him having an even greater injury, other than the acting he had to do in Space Jam. So we’d just play horse during takes.


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If you could, what professional sport would you play?

I’d play basketball because I love it. And I’m a single-digit golfer. I imagine if I concentrated on it, and put in the time, I could be a good amateur golfer. But that’s probably not going to happen.

You are good at speaking out against injustice. Why is it a risk worth taking?

As actors, we have a platform and the ability to raise the din on issues that need and crave attention. It would be a waste of the platform if you didn’t use it to bring awareness to things that often get pushed to the side or drowned out.

What’s your favorite thing about yourself right now?

I’d have to say my shoes. It seems kind of shallow when I say it out loud.

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You seem pretty stylish.

That’s because I take the clothes that are used to dress my character from the sets. I don’t know if I’ve bought clothes in 15 years, other than underwear and socks.

Let’s try that again: What’s your favorite thing about yourself right now?

I’m happiest that my kids, who are 26 and 24, are still cool with being around my wife and me. When we ask them if they want to go out to dinner together and they say yes, we’re like, damn, they still want to hang out with us. That’s dope.

If you had to do it over again, would you still choose to be a parent?

I don’t know that they would choose to be my kids and come up under me, but I love being a parent. I love being a dad. I love being a husband. I love my family. I would do it all over again. I was the dude who, as soon as I could, I took my kids with me everywhere. I took them to all the meetings. I’d ask the receptionist, “Can they just be here and draw?” I brought them into a meeting with Michael Mann. They tore up everything. I was like, “Is that cool?” and he was like, “I have five daughters. They can tear up everything.”

This summer will look a lot different from last year. What’s next?

Hawaii. I’m working for part of the summer and traveling for a little of it. We have a place in Hawaii, and that’s where we like to chill when we have time off.

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