Julia Roberts, Smyrna
The pretty woman ate, prayed and loved in Smyrna before becoming one of the nation’s most well-known actors.
Born into a metro Atlanta theatrical family, Julia Roberts has gone on to win a slew of awards. Including an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 2000 as the star of "Erin Brockovich."
But in October of 1988, she was a 21-year-old actor getting rave reviews for her breakthrough performance in the female coming-of-age flick “Mystic Pizza.”
She’d just wrapped production on a little film called “Steel Magnolias,” for which she’d receive her first Oscar nomination.
Already living in New York, she reflected on her roots at the time with The AJC.
“I think there’s something to be said for the humility of coming from a small place, remembering where you come from and what it was like to have your feet stained with clay all summer long. I think coming back semi-frequently is a good, consistent grounding thing for me.”
She had plans to watch the film with her family at a screening in Cobb Galleria.
“It’s nice to be able to come back home with a triumph to lay at your mama’s feet. That's a really neat feeling.”
She’d do it many more times.
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Travis Tritt, Marietta
“Tritt is a lifelong resident of Marietta who swears he’ll never live anywhere else,” The AJC reported in 1990.
And as of 2015, the country star was still living in a Paulding County portion of Powder Springs, so that's pretty darn close.
In 1989 before completing his first album, he was a 26-year-old with a beard and a nine-year-old pickup with a bumper sticker that said “Libya Sucks.” And he was moving up in country music.
“It's like watching a movie,” he told The AJC. “I’ve wanted this for so long — ever since I was this tall,” he said, holding his right hand about 36 inches from the floor. “Now, it’s like watching somebody else’s life go by and I have to pinch myself every day to make sure I'm not dreaming this.”
About four years before that, he’d quit his job at a Marietta air-conditioning supply company to try to make it full time as a musician. He wanted to participate in a talent search sponsored by Marlboro. But he didn’t have a demo tape nor the money to make one.
“Barely surviving,” performing for $175 to $200 a week, he met Danny Davenport, a local representative for Warner Bros., who was building a home studio. Tritt used it to record some demos.
Davenport got him connected to Warner Bros. folks in Nashville and the rest is country history.
By 1996, the 29-year-old had sold 5 million copies of his four albums, all of which were among the Top 75 on the Billboard country chart, and three — a total matched only by Garth Brooks and Michael Bolton at the time — were then on the pop list.
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Sean McVay, Marietta
At age 30 he became the NFL's youngest coach in modern history, but he's also the first Marist School quarterback to ever rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards.
He first did it in 2002 and again in 2003. That '03 season ended on the 29-degree day after Christmas when McVay led the team to a 21-6 victory, winning the AAAA title with a fourth-quarter ankle sprain.
The 180-pound option quarterback went to Miami University of Ohio as a wide receiver standing 5 feet and 10 with a 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash.
Now the son of Marietta coaches the Los Angeles Rams.
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Mike WiLL Made-It, Marietta
When he makes beats that will eventaully be heard by millions of people, he thinks about how it’ll sound in a Tahoe on its way to a Cobb County Kroger.
Because that's how Mike WiLL Made-It got his start.
The Marietta-native producer and rapper, born Michael Williams, described his process and his beginnings during an interview with the Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal in 2016.
Don’t know him? You do. He produced Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” and Beyonce’s “Formation” in addition to Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop.”
He's a big Atlanta United fan, which makes sense because the team's training facility is in Marietta.
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Robert Patrick, Marietta
Y’all, the liquidy bad guy who faced off against Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator 2” was born in Marietta. How cool is that?
Yep, not even liquid nitrogen could slow him down. (Sorry if we ruined a movie that came out in 1991.)
He nabbed a lead role on the CBS show “Scorpion” and had a prominent spot in the HBO show “True Blood,” which leads us to a crazy Cobb County connection ...
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Alan Ball, Marietta
“True Blood” was written by fellow Mariettan Alan Ball.
Ball won an Emmy for HBO show “Six Feet Under” and was also the brains behind the 1999 Oscar-winning film “American Beauty.”
It is a movie about a disinfranchised suburbanite father played by Kevin Spacey, who in the film is married to Annette Bening.
His parents moved to Marietta in the late 1950s just before he was born; his father was a quality control manager for Lockheed Martin.
Ball spoke with The Associated Press about Marietta in 2000.
“To me, it was a town I had to get out of,” he said.
He felt his homosexuality wasn’t accepted.
“Marietta is not exactly the most friendly place for gay people,” he told the AP. “I would rather be in a place where no one cares, as opposed to a place where people are going to define me by that one aspect of my personality.”
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Lil Yachty, Mableton
A Pebblebrook High alumnus has become the self-proclaimed "King of Teens" with his high-energy rap.
Yachty, born Miles McCollum, had quite a first two decades.
He released one studio album along with two mixtapes, rapped a bubblegum-melodic verse on D.R.A.M.'s "Broccoli" that was Billboard's No. 3 best pop song of 2016, was arrested but not charged for allegedly trying to use a fake credit card at a LIDS hat store in a Florida mall, helped release a nine-piece collection by Nautica at select Urban Outfitters stores and appeared in a Sprite commercial with Drake.
He also surprised a Georgia State University music journalism class in October.
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Melanie Oudin, Marietta
In 2009, she stormed the U.S. Open quarterfinals as an unseeded teenager from Marietta. In August 2017, Melanie Oudin retired at age 25.
She said her 2013 diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis, a muscle condition, caused her to end her tennis career early.
Jeff Small, Marietta
Have you liked any movies in the last decade or so? A Marietta native might be to thank.
Jeff Small became the president and CEO of DreamWorks Studios in 2006, according to the company, which now operates as Amblin Partners.
"He works alongside Steven Spielberg ... in overseeing company operations and shaping the studio's strategy," according to a bio of his for a lecture he was giving at his alma mater, Stanford University.
Dale Ellis, Marietta
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified where Ellis went to high school.
One of the greatest three-point shooters the NBA has ever seen started by making baskets at Marietta High School.
A staggering 40 percent of the time Dale Ellis pulled up for a three during his pro career, he made it.
Ellis held the No. 15 spot on the all-time NBA list of three-pointers made until January 2017 when Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors overtook him.
He sunk 1,719 treys.
Ellis played for six teams during his career, which started with the Dallas Mavericks in 1983 and ended in 2000 with the Charlotte Hornets. He played seven of those seasons for the now-nonexistent Seattle SuperSonics.
Bobby Reynolds, Acworth
After graduating from Harrison High, Bobby Reynolds went on to play for Vanderbilt University.
There, he was a two-time All-American and the No. 1 collegiate player.
In 2008 at age 26, he spoke candidly about his place in professional tennis: “I have to be realistic,” he said, at the time ranked No. 92 in the world. “I feel like I’ve gotten better as the years have gone on, but to be [ranked] in the top 20, those guys have something that’s just amazing.”
In 2016, he was named the Auburn University head men's tennis coach.
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Brad Johnson, Marietta
Thirty four years after being born in Marietta, he went on to quarterback the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003 to the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory.
He was drafted in 1992 by the Minnesota Vikings and played his last season in 2008 with the Dallas Cowboys.
But his family has been into sports in the area for a while.
His mom was a basketball star at Canton High School, and his dad was a coach at Cherokee High School.
It appears the tradition goes on.
Miami's Mark Richt extended an offer to play in 2020 to his nephew Max Johnson, who is Brad's son.
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Chuck Nevitt, Marietta
During the mid 1980s, a Sprayberry High School alumnus became the tallest player in NBA history.
Chuck Nevitt, who stood at 7 feet and 5 inches, had an on-again, off-again professional career that was all started over a dinner table.
His uncle, Chuck West, once explained it to The AJC.
“We decided to market him. I have a printing company (in Smyrna). I told them to get the information. I said I’d make up a brochure, and we’d try to drum up some interest.”
That resulted in a six-page brochure that showed Nevitt, at the time playing for North Carolina State, blocking a shot against Ralph Simpson.
It read: “If you don't recognize No. 50, you don’t follow basketball very closely. That’s right, he's the incomparable Ralph Sampson. But how about the guy hovering over him, blocking his shot? Do you know him?”
The caption reads: “You can’t teach a kid to be seven-five.”
The Houston Rockets selected him in the third round of the 1982 draft.
To learn more about Nevitt, read this Sports Illustrated piece about him.
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Robin Finck, Marietta
It’s not easy to play for two highly respected bands, so good they both made the list of VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
But Robin Finck has.
The Walton High grad joined Nine Inch Nails in the mid-1990s and was touring with them when they played Woodstock ’94.
Then he tagged out one of the most famous rock guitarists of all time.
In 1997, he replaced Slash of Guns N’ Roses.
According to a bio from the guitar brand he uses, he helped form GNR's long-delayed album "Chinese Democracy."
He went on to bounce between the two bands, while touring all over the globe.
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Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Marietta
As a 6-foot-9-inch Wheeler High junior, Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 113 points and 46 rebounds in four state tournament games leading up to winning the 1994 Class AAAA title.
The son of a metro Atlanta imam, Abdur-Rahim a couple years later went on to great success with the Vancouver Grizzlies. The team later moved to Memphis.
He came back to Atlanta to play for the Hawks. During his three seasons back home, he scored 4,309 points.
He became an All-Star during his 2001-02 season with the Hawks and won an Olympic gold medal in 2000.
Abdur-Rahim ended his playing career at age 31 with the Sacramento Kings and an arthritic knee. He later became their assistant general manager.