Five Celebrity Fans of UCLA Bruins Athletics
Sean “P Diddy” Combs
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When it comes to college sports in Los Angeles, USC has cornered the celebrity fan market. The likes of Will Ferrell, Snoop Dogg, Spike Lee, Andre 3000, Nick Lachey and Alyssa Milano have all at one point voiced their support for the Trojans. You probably didn’t know crosstown rival UCLA even had celebrity fans. With the USC-UCLA showdown looming on Saturday, we salute five celebrities who have chosen the road less traveled by cheering for the true blue and gold.
Among the five fans on this list, P Diddy is the most recent newcomer as well as the biggest name. But it’s not without good reason. Combs’ son, Justin, is a defensive back for the football team, redshirting his freshman year.
Like many of the decisions he’s made in his career, Combs’ support of the Bruins could pay off big if, in fact, the balance of football power in LA starts tilting toward Westwood. He’s not taking his fandom for granted, as he was in attendance for this year’s game against Nebraska and shot a Bad Boy Entertainment-produced video for the occasion.
The man best known for his role as Steve Urkel on “Family Matters” has something that four of the five names on this list can boast: The experience of having actually attended and graduated from UCLA. (It’s a much higher rate than USC can claim among its celebrity fans.)
White’s connection is even deeper. He was born in Pasadena — home of UCLA’s home football field, the Rose Bowl — and is a regular courtside fan for the Bruins’ basketball games more than a decade after graduating in 2001 with a degree in film and television.
Though football is not his UCLA sport of choice, White has also likely sat up and paid attention to the reemergence of the program. At 8–2, the 17th-ranked Bruins have endured significantly fewer “Did I do that?” moments than they went through during the last, mostly futile decade.
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/US Presswire
The actor who portrayed the titutal Rudy did not, in fact, go to Notre Dame. Four years after the seminal college football movie hit big screens, Astin graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in history and English.
Not that he’s a stranger to the confusion over his alma mater. “I’ve always said when I’ve gone around the country that I’m 51 percent Bruin, 49 percent Irish, and 100 percent anti-USC,” he said in a 2004 interview.
And for a celebrity fan, Astin does just as much playing as he does watching. He was a participant in the NFLPA’s Premiere League Flag Football Game on UCLA’s campus this past spring (pictured), and in the past he’s also run triathlons and driven in the Long Beach Celebrity Grand Prix.
We can only hope head coach Jim L. Mora invites Astin to the locker room and plays this clip before Saturday’s game to get the Bruins fired up.
Forte graduated from UCLA in 1992 with a degree in history. It stands to reason that the former football player and swimmer at Acalanes High School in the Bay Area spent his time in Westwood as a pretty big sports fan, too.
How big? Big enough that the former “Saturday Night Live” comedian and actor was willing to be the public face of the pro-UCLA celebrity fan contingent in the lead-up to last year’s USC-UCLA game. That meant getting a humorous dig in at USC and engaging in some repartee with fellow former SNL cast member Will Ferrell.
“I don’t really associate with USC fans. They’re very entitled, the type of person that will not hold the door open for an old woman,” Forte told The Hollywood Reporter. “They’ll intentionally walk a blind person into traffic.”
We’d be pretty bitter too if USC had beaten our school 12 of the last 13 times.
Long before he was Leroy Jethro Gibbs on “NCIS,” Harmon made his impact on Hollywood in another way: As a two-year starter at quarterback for the Bruins (top-most photo). Not that one would expect anything less from the son of Michigan’s iconic Heisman Trophy winning halfback, Tom Harmon.
“If Hollywood wanted to cast a young man in the role of football hero, Mark Harmon would be perfect,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Dan Jenkins in September 1972 after Harmon led an upset of two-time defending national champion Nebraska. With Harmon at the helm, the Bruins went 17–5 across 1972 and 1973.
Alas, is now best known as playing a Navy special agent. Fortunately for Harmon, the close proximity of the Sunset Strip to Westwood has allowed him to easily keep tabs on his alma mater for the past 40 years.