Like Father, Like Son: Denzel Washington's Kid Lands First Starring Role

Suzy Byrne
Yahoo TV

Get ready for a little more of that Washington charm.

John David Washington, the eldest of Denzel Washington's four children, is breaking into the family business, scoring his first major role in the HBO series "Ballers." The half-hour dramedy, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (it's his first big TV project, too), centers on the happenings of retired athletes living in Miami, and he'll play Ricky, a competitive and highly spiritual jock.

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The role seems like a custom fit for the 29-year-old Hollywood newcomer, who goes by J.D., because he's a former college football player and had a brief stint in the NFL. Sidelined by an injury, he made the jump to acting. After all, it's in his blood: Denzel, who won Academy Awards for "Training Day" and "Glory" and is currently prepping for a stint in Broadway's "Raisin in the Sun," and his actress wife Pauletta's three other children — Katia, Olivia, and Malcolm — are also pursuing careers in various facets of the entertainment business.

In 1992, when he was 9, J.D. had bit role as a school boy in his father's starring vehicle "Malcolm X." In 2010, he was a co-producer in the superstar's post-apocalyptic thriller "Book of Eli."

But don't expect J.D. — who grew up in Los Angeles, attending Campbell Hall School in Studio City — to boast too much about his roots. When he was a starring football player at Morehouse College, he would often decline to participate in media interviews because he presumed they would be more about his dad than his downs.

"Since I've known him, he has shunned away from media attention," his coach Willard Scissum told ESPN in 2003. "He doesn't want to get attention that the other guys on the team are not getting just because of his father. John David is a very humble young man from everything I've seen. I'm sure John David is very proud to be the son of Denzel Washington, but he's also a Morehouse man as well."

"Ballers" will follow Johnson's Spencer Strasmore and Omar Benson Miller as Charles, who are former pro athletes looking for their next act. Rob Corddry will play financial advisor Joe and Troy Garity will be sport agent Jason.

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One other familiar face in the cast is LeToya Luckett, who will play the widow of one of Spencer's friends. She was an original member of Destiny's Child with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland. After drama in the group, she and LaTavia Roberson were replaced in 1999 and the relationship ended with a lawsuit. She went on to launch a solo career and is also on VH1's "Single Ladies."

The series, which is being executive produced by Johnson and his "Pain & Gain" co-star Mark Wahlberg, will start production later this year.