Tobi Lou remembers the exact moment his baseball career ended.
“I learned things about the sport in my last year that I never knew. Things finally happened, and my spring training was like no other. For the first time, I was able to consistently hit the ball out of the park in batting practice,” he told the Tribune independent in Alamogordo, N.M., in 2012 He talked about his time playing in the Pecos League.
“I was finally finding ways to test my arm strength and my swing. My last hit was a home run. I pulled my hammy while beating an infield single in my first at-bat in that game.
With the number of roster spots available and his recovery likely taking weeks, Lou said the team knew he would be removed from the lineup once they learned of the injury, so he remained in the game for his final at-bat.
“I was down 0-2 and the pitcher hung the slider. I was ahead and knocked it out of the park. I knew I was done. I was tired. I was getting $600 a month. “I kept thinking about how unlikely it was that my last hit would be a home run,” Lou continued.
The Nigerian-born, Chicago-area-raised rapper played baseball at Homewood-Flossmoor for three years before spending his senior year at Hinsdale Central. Lou (born Tobi Adeyemi), a 6-foot-1, 200-pound outfielder, played a year and a half at SUNY Albany before transferring to Florida A&M. In his junior season, Recorded five hits in a game against Jackson State. He hit .379 with 4 home runs and 29 RBIs in his senior season at FAMU.
After graduation, Lou went on to play for the Joliet Slammers, winning the Frontier League championship in his first season with the team. During his sophomore year, after not getting much playing time, Lou ended up in New Mexico, where he pitched his final at-bat.
“Baseball became something that I appreciated being able to go as far as I could because I really started to love the different aspects of it and figuring it out. You’re always working on your swing. You’re always trying to understand and fix things. I feel like I took it as far as I could,” Lou said.
But that wasn’t the case when baseball ended for Lou in 2012. the end. It was a moment that allowed him to turn to one of his deep interests: music. Although sports have been at the forefront for as long as he can remember, Lou took the opportunity to delve deeper into his art. He wanted to pursue music as he did after baseball. He wanted to immerse himself in it, to wake up and devote himself to his work.
“I love music. I remember sometimes during summer league in college I would stay up all night just to figure out music stuff in my bedroom. That had to be a gift from God to me because I don’t know if you’ve ever had a hammy, but I just laid my head out on the field like ‘this is it.’ “I almost cried on the inside, not on my face,” Lou said. “Everybody just wants to play and they’re holding on to their dreams. You’re given the ability to go out and play and it’s been a meaningful thing for almost your entire life and suddenly it’s not going to be meaningful anymore. I saw it as a sign of taking control of my destiny.” I bought it as.
Lou’s transition from athlete to artist was almost immediate. He owes the ease he feels in devoting himself to music to his mentality that comes from years of sports training.
“As an athlete, your job is to train. And your workout often affects the energy you have throughout the day. You pour hours into your day, into your craft, hoping that day will bring you a little closer to being better. “And for once, I realized that I would no longer be judged by my athletic ability,” he said.
Lou lived with his parents because he wasn’t in school or playing baseball. He spent as many hours as possible studying and working on his music. Sleeping and eating were secondary in his profession. He felt freer. There were no coaches or trainers telling him what to do, he was on his own.
“Tobi has always been in love with music. I have a recording that Tobi made for me with his brothers. But sports was his love. Tobi was a good basketball player, baseball player and football player. “He did track and field and played football,” said his mother, Ronke Champion-Adeyemi. “He’s athletically blessed, so I’m not surprised that even when you see him on stage, he performs like an athlete. That’s still in him. And he still brings a lot of that into his performance.”
Lou’s song in 2019 “Buff Baby” TikTok went viral with its dance challenge. In 2021, actor John C. Reilly, a fan of Lou, introduced him. via video at Lollapalooza. An independent artist, she has toured the world with songs such as: “I Was Sad Last Night, Now I’m Fine.”
“The dimensions of all our problems may be different, but we all experience the same feelings. We may all end up…tears in our eyes, smiles on our faces. “We are all influenced in some way to have the same kinds of emotions, no matter what we’re feeling, no matter how big the differences,” Lou said.
Lou’s messages are what connects him to his audience, says his manager Derrick “Lottery” Hardy. He reaches people who connect with the emotions he expresses through his music.
“This comes from personal experience. It’s like I come home feeling blue from exercise or something and he thinks the world is ending, but then when he falls asleep he wakes up and goes, ‘Oh, okay.’ ‘I’m still here, I’m still in this world.’ And then he’ll preach that message to other people,” Hardy said. “And you’d be surprised how many people say, ‘Wow, I never looked at it that way.’ I never thought about it that way.” But the message wasn’t really a message, it was Tobi speaking his truth.”
When he’s not working on his music, Lou trains as if he were preparing for a baseball season. He bikes 20-25 miles a day and works out. Keeping your body in shape for touring also keeps your mind healthy.
“Everything is competitive,” he said.
In October, Lou returned to Chicago for a break from the Metro tour with group therapy. With his athleticism on full display, Lou uses his entire body to perform. He paused between songs to talk to the audience about their mental and emotional health. He reminded them that it was okay to not be okay sometimes; a message that the crowd welcomed with relatable enthusiasm. Some were moved to tears as they told the story of a fan who said he came with his father because he had no friends. “I’m your friend,” Lou told him.
But it wasn’t just the fans who were emotional, Lou was too. The welcome given by the home fans was one he had been anxiously awaiting. They embraced Lou not only as one of their own, but as someone whose message they wanted to engage with.
Lou left Chicago years ago with a baseball dream, but he returned with a new dream for them to share. And he’s still scoring points.