is an intern at The Root and senior journalism major at Howard University.
As he rebuilds his public image amid a never-ending sex scandal, the world's most celebrated golfer has started to speak more openly about his Buddhist beliefs. In a recent interview with the Golf Channel Tiger Woods said of his noticeable bracelet, "It's Buddhist, it's for protection and strength and I certainly need that." Yet some have since questioned whether his newfound frankness on faith is a cynical ploy for sympathy.
After serving a prison sentence stemming from his illegal dog-fighting ring, the football star faulted himself for his actions and said he has asked Jesus for forgiveness. Michael Vick claims to have become closer to God, and credits former football coach Tony Dungy for playing a role in that.
The troubled former child star and long-time drug abuser has recently said that his ex-agent molested him as a child. In his new book that tackles his dark past, the Diff’rent Strokes star cites Christianity as his salvation.
For Joseph Simmons, being a part of the pioneering rap group Run DMC and making gold, platinum, and multi-platinum-selling albums wasn’t enough to earn happiness. So, in search of fulfillment he became a member of Zoe Ministries and was later ordained a minister. Now a reality TV star, he uses his public platform to share his faith.
After leaving the pioneering female rap group Salt 'n Pepa, Cheryl James said that she was born again and started a career in gospel rap – most notably on Kirk Franklin's 1997 hit, "Stomp." She did join ex-partner Sandy "Pepa" Denton for both a reality show and string of performances, but has substantially altered her more provocative lyrical content.
Raised a Jehovah's Witness, the entertainer converted to Islam in 1989 following a trip to Bahrain. Jermaine Jackson consistently promotes the faith in public appearances, and at one point, tried to convert his brother Michael to the religion.
The former Bad Boy artist Chauncey "Loon" Hawkins appeared on Al Jazeera TV last year to declare that he has converted to Islam. The rapper now goes by the name Amir Junaid Muhadith.
In 2001 the man who was once as famous for his sexuality as his genius revealed that he had become a Jehovah's Witness. Those who questioned Prince Rogers Nelson's seriousness had those questions answered once it was revealed he took on the door-to-door conversion efforts associated with the faith –- even at the home of a Jewish family before the start of Yom Kippur.
Although the Prince protégé grew up Catholic, Sheila "E." Escovedo acknowledges that she only went to church because she was had no other choice. In 1991 the drummer left Prince and his organization and developed a better relationship with God. On that transition, she once explained "I got the Bible and I started reading and I kept it on my chest. I slept with it and never took it out of my hand for weeks."
Denise "Vanity" Matthews, the Canadian-born singer, actress, and former sex symbol, is best known as the lead singer of Prince’s famous girl group, Vanity 6. In 1994 she turned her back on her past and became a born-again Christian. She says that doctors once told her that she had three days to live, and that Jesus assured her that her life would continue if she gave up her past. She now openly resents her past career, drug abuse, and stage attire.
In 1964 the boxing great born Cassius Clay Jr. joined the Nation of Islam. Three years later he cited his religious beliefs in his refusal to be inducted into the U.S. military and his opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1975, Ali converted to Sunni Islam.
The celebrated entertainer converted to Judaism in 1954 after his losing his left eye in a car accident. As one of the few African American Jews at the time, Davis famously quipped in response to a question about his handicap, "Talk about handicap — I'm a one-eyed Negro Jew."
Though she was born to devout Christian parents, Donna Summer became the Queen of Disco by exuding wild sexuality in a music genre that provided a soundtrack to much of debauchery associated with the 1970s. However, in the 80s the disco queen returned to her Christian roots and announced that she was born again.
The former heavyweight boxing champ was a megastar in the 1990s with various endorsement deals and video games. During that time he also converted to Christianity – promoting messages about Christ in addition to corporate products. However, Holyfield has been under a lot of scrutiny following allegations of domestic abuse, not to mention the fact that he has fathered a string of children with various women.
After the disappointing sales of his 1999 sophomore album, Double Up, Mason "Ma$e" Durrell Betha announced that he was born again and turning his life over to God. He became a preacher, then returned to rap — only with a more light-hearted sound. Years later, he sought to join 50 Cent’s G-Unit fold and rap in a style associated with his famous moniker, "Murder Ma$e." He still preaches.
Elgin Baylor "Ginuwine" Lumpkin cites wife and former rapper Tonya "Solé" Johnston for his stronger relationship with God. The two began dating back in the 1990s and with Solé's influence Ginuwine shifted away from the raunchiness associated with his earlier hits, like "Pony." Unlike his wife, Ginuwine still records music. However, he considers his recent sound to be more "mature."
After the release of her third album, Priceless, R&B singer Kelly Price said she was turning to gospel music in light of a renewed commitment to Christianity. Yet, Price ultimately said that she could do both and last September announced "The Queen Project" with fellow singers Deborah Cox and Tamia. While still secular, Price seeks to use her voice to"empower women of all ages, races, and backgrounds."
With a background and gospel and a noted TV role on the angel-themed sitcom, Touched By An Angel, Della Reese has been known to be a woman of faith. The faith Reese currently belongs to, however, is the New Thought Movement – a religion that stresses metaphysical beliefs. She is currently a New Thought minister at Understanding Principles for Better Living Church in Los Angeles.
Following the failure of her solo debut album, Hot Coko, and the shelving of her sophomore effort, Coko of SWV famed returned to her Christian roots and later resurfaced as a born-again Christian and gospel singer. While she has since rejoined the group that made her famous, she refuses to perform their sexually explicit hits like "Downtown" and "Can We."
Following the end of her marriage to record executive L.A. Reid and accusations that as TLC's manager she mismanaged their finances, Pebbles left the music industry. She ultimately became a Christian minister under the name "Sister Perri."
After married girlfriend Mary Woodson White doused a showering Albert "Al Green" Greene with a pan of boiling hot grits before taking her own life in 1974, the soul music superstar said it was a wake up call for how he lived his life. He would go on to become an ordained minister at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis in 1976. For years he would exclusively record gospel music before returning to his R&B roots decades later. Reverend Al Green is still an active minister.