Mahershalalhashbaz is the longest proper name in the Bible, as well as the name of one of the prophet Isaiah's sons. It's a lot to live up to, but "House of Cards" (Netflix, 2013- ) actor Mahershala Ali was more than up to the task. The California native turned his basketball talent into a full scholarship to St. Mary's College but eventually turned to writing and acting as creative refuges. Armed with an MFA from the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts, the charismatic Ali began acting professionally with a debut role on NBC's "Crossing Jordan" (2001-07). He followed up his appearance on the cult hit "The 4400" (USA, 2004-07) with David Fincher's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008), where he again played the father of a child with unusual aging issues. Ali's intense demeanor and calculating intelligence enlivened his portrayals of a federal agent on "Alphas" (SyFy, 2011-12), an investigator on HBO's "Treme" (2010- ), and his ruthless lobbyist on "House of Cards." With Ryan Gosling as his co-star in "The Place Beyond the Pines" (2013), it's safe to say ditching basketball for acting was the smartest move Mahershala Ali ever made.