“Sports, cars, and music. They’ve always been huge where I’m from,” Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu says. As a kid growing up in New Orleans, LA, Tyrann had love for all three. He played his first game at the age of five and remembers scoring a touchdown literally the first time he touched the ball. Later on, he became a high school legend and eventually won a scholarship to LSU, when it dawned on him that making it to the NFL was within his reach. Always undersized compared to most of the other players on the field, the man dubbed “The Honey Badger” by his fans in college exhibited the immense talent, on-field ferocity and heart that would carry him all the way to NFL stardom. Tyrann entered the league in 2013 and has terrorized offenses ever since, reaching First-Team All-Pro status just two years after that.
But as much as football has always been passion number one, he’s always had another one. “I remember back when I was eight, me and my cousin used to play this game called Bingo. Whether we were riding in a car or sitting on the porch, we would always try to spot the best-looking car and yell Bingo.” Back then, what caught Tyrann’s eye were classic domestics: Cutlasses bumping old school hip-hop and R&B and Monte Carlos with wild paint schemes. “One guy had the Fruit Loop logo on his Monte Carlo. Another guy painted his with a big Nike Swoosh,” he vividly recalls. As he got a little older, he would also catch short glimpses of high-end European exotics being driven around town by a certain local superstar. “Any time Lil Wayne would come to town, that would be the only time we’d ever see Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, and Lamborghinis.”
Even now, you can still see a little bit of those early memories influencing Tyrann’s tastes in cars. The centerpiece of his current stable is a 2017 Rolls-Royce Wraith. Seeing Weezy rolling down the street in a Phantom planted the idea in his mind. Tyrann would look at how one local New Orleans kid made it big and thought one day he could, too. “When I realized I was in the position to afford it, I definitely decided that I needed to buy one,” Tyrann laughs, joking that his financial adviser tried to talk him out of it initially. But once he stepped foot into the Wraith, it was a done deal. “The first time I got in it, man, it was like I was in a spaceship or in a movie,” pointing out the trademark Rolls-Royce fiber optic starlight headliner. “And when you turn the music up, it’s like you have headphones on.” Clearly not his daily driver, Tyrann enjoys pulling up to the club or to home games in the Wraith. Once he does, necks start snapping. “Anytime I bring it out, it’s like an automatic photo shoot. Everybody wanna take selfies with it.”
Slightly subtler than the Rolls is Tyrann’s 2017 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon. At least as subtle as a six-figure matte green twin-turbocharged Benz can be. Not wanting to go with something like an Escalade, Tyrann found the perfect SUV to suit his tastes. “It just has that muscle car feel. When you start the engine or step on the gas, you can just hear it coming down the street.” And surprisingly, when it comes to his two European monsters, the G-Wagon is the one that gets the most attention of certain people he meets. “If you ask a guy to pick (between the Rolls or the Benz), he’ll say, ‘I’ll go with the Rolls.’ But women, they prefer the G-Wagon. I’ll take the G-Wagon out when I go on dates and things like that.”
Tyrann does have a beater that he drives daily when he’s not taking the Wraith or the G-Wagon to special events. However, unlike most people, his beater isn’t a good old Honda or Toyota, but a 2011 BMW 550i. The Bimmer was originally black, but now sports a new white paint job and rims powder coated red to match the all-red interior. Echoing the color scheme of his Arizona Cardinals, Tyrann gets recognized often when driving around during the season in the 5-Series. But of all the cars he owns, the one that has the most sentimental value to him is his old college ride – a 2011 Chevy Camaro rolling on gloss black 22” Asantis. “That’s the probably the car that I will never give away. It’s kind of like the first, best friend you’ll ever have. It’s still very special to me,” he says, recalling the times when he would pack a bunch of his college friends into it and go on road trips and parties. Like the Bimmer, his Camaro was originally black, but he later got it painted Candy Apple Red to make it pop under the ever-present Arizona sunshine.
Tyrann often reminisces on his journey from being kid watching those nice cars drive by his front porch, to being a college athlete with a dream of playing pro ball, to finally achieving his goal of NFL stardom. He looks back fondly at his time as a college kid packing all his friends into his Camaro even when he’s driving his Wraith to the University of Phoenix Stadium to the delight of ecstatic Cardinals fans at home games. “It’s all real special to me. It makes you think about where you come from and it makes you just reflect on everything you’ve been through. It’s a humbling feeling.”