Crowds in Blount County once watched in awe as Cait McMahan showcased her talents on the basketball court. Today, she is still bringing crowds to their feet, but she is doing it through music.
“My favorite part of my life was high school,” the former Heritage High School guard said. “I had a great team, and all I did was basketball, basketball, basketball.”
After a Parade magazine All-American prep career, McMahan chose to join the Tennessee Lady Volunteers to play under coaching legend Pat Summit. In her first season with the Lady Vols in 2007, McMahan achieved a lifelong goal of playing on a national championship team.
“I loved it,” she said. “It was hard for me at first because I was used to being the scorer on my team, but, because the college game is so different, I had to become a role player. Eventually, I became a woman and realized I really contributed, and I loved it. It was such a blessing.”
Just as her promising collegiate career was beginning, McMahan succumbed to a knee injury that forced her to the sideline permanently. It was hard to give up the game she loved, McMahan said, but as that opportunity ended, her music career began.
“I just had to deal with it,” she said. “It was hard. I hated it, and, at the same time, my mom passed away and it seemed like I was dealing with so much all at once . . . but I realized that there is life outside of basketball, and I’m as happy as I’ve ever been right now”
Much of that happiness has come from her new passion, rapping, where McMahan performs under the title “Babi Mac” with Swiperboy Entertainment.
“I’ve always liked rap but I’ve never put it out on the internet,” McMahan said. “I approached Renaldo Woolridge and told him I could rap. Of course he didn’t believe me, but I gave him my CD, and he loved it, and he took me under his wing.”
Renaldo “Swiperboy” Woolridge is known by many locally as a reserve forward on the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team, but he is also the founder of his own music label along with being a singer and songwriter.
Under the tutelage of Woolridge, McMahan’s career is blossoming, and she hopes that one day her music will become her livelihood.
“I want music to be my job, my source of income,” she said. “I love music, and I want to be paid to do something I love. I’ve dropped my first mix tape and have a huge performance coming up March 5 at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium,” McMahan continued, “and I have the opportunity to do some short films.”
McMahan made an appearance on actor/comedian Jamie Foxx’s radio show the “Foxx Hole” recently where the host came away impressed with not only her lyrics but her game when the two matched-up in one-on-one after some ribbing directed at McMahan by Foxx.
While running an offense and anticipating opposing point guard’s passes seem completely different from standing on stage and wooing audiences, McMahan said she uses her basketball experience to become a better musician.
“How to perform is just like practicing for a game; you have to know what you’re going to do,” she said. “You learn to spread the stage. You have to approach your performance just like a game. He (Woolridge) has put me under his wing. Just like in basketball there are certain things you just have to know to succeed, like when is the best time to release your music.”
McMahan’s March 5 performance at the auditorium will take place as part of the sixth annual Teen Step Off Competition, where teams from area high schools will compete for cash and prizes and receive information on area colleges and universities.