He banged the boards for 12 seasons as an NBA power forward, but Tisdale's cool urban R&B is anything but bruising. His fourth album, Face to Face, hit No. 1 on Billboard's contemporary jazz charts last year, and he was named Bassist of the Year at the 2002 National Smooth Jazz Awards. While Tisdale reaps the rewards of his music, there are other benefits. Says the 38-year-old, who lives in Tulsa with his wife, Regina, and their four children, "It's a lot easier on my knees, I can tell you that."
"I've always related to people better with music than I have with sports," says the 1993 Cy Young Award winner, who in 12 big league seasons was known as much for his hot head as for his split-fingered fastball. Since retiring in 1999 McDowell has channeled his intensity into his pop-alternative band Stickfigure, which is a regular on the Southern California club scene. "I was pigeonholed as this certain type of person in baseball," says McDowell, 36, who lives outside San Diego with his wife, Meridith, and their three kids. "The person inside of me—the real Jack—was the person coming out in songs."
While playing hoops in Europe in the mid-'90s, the former Arizona State standout would belt out Tina Turner covers on Sunday nights to packed crowds at a club in Pavia, Italy. "They thought I was a superstar," says Hampton, 39. After blowing out her knee in '99 and retiring from the WNBA's New York Liberty, she landed a gig as a backup vocalist on Luscious Jackson's album Electric Honey. But Hampton, a single Brooklynite, doesn't want to rush her new career. "You have to start out right," she says, "because you don't get a second chance."
Music has always been a part of Flannery's life, but never did it mean more to the former San Diego Padres infielder and current third base coach than during his father's battle with Alzheimer's. Flannery's critically acclaimed fourth album, Pieces of the Past, featuring his trademark Irish folk-and bluegrass-inflected tunes, was recorded as a tribute to his father, Ragon, who died in 1999. Says the 44-year-old father of three, "My music was the only way of connecting with him then."
In the U.S. he's best remembered as the passionate and flamboyant Frenchman who won an emotional victory over Mats Wilander in the 1983 French Open final. But in his home country Noah, 42, is also known as a reggae singer, who with his band Zam Zam hit No. 5 on France's charts in May with the double-platinum album Yannick Noah. The 10-man outfit has been together for 11 years, and Noah—a father of four whose dreadlocks are modeled after those of Bob Marley—is preparing to record the band's fifth album, in September, in France and Brazil. "In tennis the only time you notice the audience is at match point," says Noah. "Now it's a whole different world. It's about the crowd. I perform for the people."