Kanye, Swaggy P and Yasiel Puig show arrogance gives way to greatness

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By ALYSHA TSUJI
College Contributor Network

Excellence, opulence, decadence, arrogance. All can be found in sports and in music. The two professions share a sense of notoriety that few outsiders can relate to. It isn't easy, though. The rise to fame can tear a person apart or it can propel them to greatness.

Kanye West, Nick Young and Yasiel Puig have experienced the latter in abundance -- "the glory, the story, the chain, the polo, the night, the grind, the empty bottles of No-Doz" -- but there's a catch.

Vanity often follows the stardom. Sometimes bad choices are made and wrong words are said. See: West stealing the mic from Taylor Swift at the VMAs, Young celebrating a missed three, Puig arriving late to practice.

"God chose me. He made a path for me. I am God's vessel. But my greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live," West told VH1 in an episode of "Storytellers."

The hubris can be deafening. However, the triumph that rains down is undeniable. So maybe these three are on to something. Perhaps the jarring arrogance that people can barely stand translates to achievement.

Just look at Michael Jordan. He built his entire life through his high self-esteem. The tongue sticking out, the on-court trash talking, his unforgiving Hall of Fame speech. It worked for him. Jordan is a business mogul who forever transformed how the sport of basketball is played and how it's sold.

Present-day, we have artists and players following in the path that MJ forged. West went as far as to name himself the "Michael Jordan of music." His swagger produced the hits "Gold Digger" and "Jesus Walks" that gave way to "Yeezus." West grew from humble beginnings, raised by a single mom in Chicago.

Shifting to the NBA, cue Young, who says God gave him his nickname, "Swaggy P." Young spent five seasons with the Washington Wizards, one season with the Los Angeles Clippers and one season with the Philadelphia 76ers before landing a spot on the Los Angeles Lakers. He put on the purple and gold, and he turned into an immediate fan favorite.

Then, he started sinking shots. In the 2013-14 season, he averaged a career-high 17.9 points per game. After the season, Young posted a photo of himself at a tattoo parlor on Instagram. Fans asked why he didn't have ink on his right arm. His response: "No tats on the right arm Strictly for buckets."

Young's set for another solid season, especially with Kobe Bryant back on the roster. The fans love him, he has Iggy Azaela at his side and his confidence levels are at an all-time high.

Swap sports to the MLB and the guy making noise is 23-year-old Yasiel Puig. The story of how he ended up in America from Cuba is interesting in itself.

While Puig has remained silent concerning the matter, investigative pieces by major publications such as LA Magazine and ESPN have revealed that Puig was illegally smuggled out of Cuba. In April 2014, reports surfaced that Puig received death threats from his smugglers. And in September 2014, ESPNLA reported that a man who is believed to have played a part in Puig's smuggling was arrested.

Puig's crazy Cuba-to-America migration story feels fitting. He's a baseball rock star, and only a wild, adventurous tale could make his fast rise to the top fathomable. The legendary Vin Scully dubbed Puig "The Maestro" of bat flipping -- Puig doesn't simply smack homeruns, he turns it into a show.

West, Young and Puig operate on a different wavelength. They're good. And they know it. Their attitudes no doubt have a hand in their success.

In other careers, say a CEO or a teacher, an overkill of arrogance can be seen as a disadvantage. It can cause a person to act too quickly or selfishly.

Sports and music stand separately from other careers. To attain, maintain and flaunt excellence is admired by onlookers. The haughtiness required to match that of West, Young and Puig seems reckless, and yet it still makes perfect sense.

West spits it best in "New God Flow," uniting the mindsets of athletes and musicians: "Went from most hated to champion god flow, I guess that's a feeling only me and LeBron know."

Alysha Tsuji is a senior Journalism major at Pepperdine University. Her passion lies in sports media, namely when it comes to covering the NBA. Follow her on Twitter: @AlyshaTsuji
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