NEW YORK – Teen rap sensation Bow Wow says he's nothing like the goody-goody character he plays in his new movie Like Mike — but there is one thing he and his big-screen counterpart have in common. Against all odds, both hope to become professional basketball players.
Bow Wow, not so Lil' anymore at 15, says he would give up his Guinness Book of World Records status as the youngest solo rapper to hit No. 1 "in a second" if he could be like Michael Jordan.
"I wanted to be a basketball player before the rapping and the acting, and it's still the same now," the charismatic green-eyed star told Fox News. "I'd trade it in real quick."
At 5-foot-1-inches tall, Bow Wow, born Shad Moss in Columbus, Ohio, seems to think the only thing holding him back from the court is his young age. And it might not be just a hoop dream — the hip hop heartthrob actually made several of the incredible shots featured in his movie.
"I saved Fox 50 grand on computerized special effects," the Forbes magazine-listed moneymaker said.
In Like Mike, Bow Wow, who plays orphan Calvin Cambridge, gets to play with the fictitious Los Angeles Knights with the help of a pair of magic sneakers.
In real life, Bow Wow is attending basketball camp this summer with two-time All-Star Vince Carter. He is also working hard on his studies with a private tutor because it's "the only way I'll get into Duke," he said.
Bow Wow's Like Mike co-star Morris Chestnut, of Boyz N the Hood fame, says his movie teammate definitely has a shot at going pro.
"It might be kind of hard," said Chestnut, affectionately. "He's a great dribbler. He needs to work on his shooting a little bit. But hey, [former 5' 7" NBA player] Spud Webb made it, so you never know."
Mike Bass, an NBA vice president, agreed.
"Bow Wow certainly has game. If he continues to work hard and practice, you never know."
But New York Post sports writer Evan Grossman is more skeptical.
"He's only 15 — his height might change, but his chances still aren't very good," Grossman said. "Of all the high school players, less than one percent make it to the NBA. And, as a recording artist, he doesn't have the time to devote to the sport that kids who are seriously thinking about it might have."
Grossman added that money and fame don't make for guaranteed success in the sports world, citing rap mogul Master P's failure to make the NBA's Toronto Raptors.
Maybe he'll find a pair of magic sneakers.