Meet the Milwaukee Bucks’ Off-the-Court Stars

From a rambunctious fan to a crowd-pleasing DJ, meet the other stars around the Milwaukee Bucks.

WE ALL LOVE GIANNIS, Khris, Jrue and the rest of the Bucks. But beyond the on-court talent, there are many supporting stars who help create the lively atmosphere that surrounds the world champions. Here are a few of our favorites.



 
 
1.

Dan Roberts: Shirt-Shredding Bucks Fan

SUPERPOWER: AWESOME OUTRAGEOUSNESS

Standing at 6 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing 470 pounds, Dan Roberts, 33, is hard to miss, even in a crowd. But he really got noticed last season when, on the spur of the moment during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he guzzled a large mixed drink, then shredded his new Bucks shirt while mouthing “Bucks in six,” all of which was broadcast on the Jumbotron at Fiserv Forum. The crowd went wild, so Roberts continued his shirt-ripping throughout the playoffs. 

This season, he’s keeping the tradition going. “I went to the [championship] ring ceremony game at the start of this season and didn’t intend to rip my shirt, but it happened. I had to give the people what they wanted.” Fans will be pleased to know that the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum is producing a bobblehead of Roberts, for sale this month. “The greatest thing about it is that not only does the head bobble, but the belly bobbles, too,” he says.

Photo courtesy of Dan Roberts


 

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2.

Shawna Nicols: (DJ Shawna) Official In-Game DJ

SUPERPOWER: READING A CROWD

DJ Shawna’s music pumps up Bucks players and fans before and during games at Fiserv Forum. “It feels sometimes like a sixth sense for me. I know what vibe I want to set,” says the 38-year-old Milwaukee native. Basketball has played a major role in Nicols’ life since childhood. She starred on the court at Pius XI High School and played hoops in college, followed by a stint playing professionally overseas. Combining her passions was a natural step. 

“To me, music has always gone hand in hand with basketball,” she says. “I really pay attention to new music. I love it when I play a song and Giannis comes up and dabs with me. It’s one of the coolest things in the world to
be able to play music for all of them.”

Photo courtesy of DJ Shawna



 
 
3.

Melanie Ricks: In-Game Host

SUPERPOWER: VIRAL ENTHUSIASM

Melanie Ricks’ association with the Bucks began at age 12 as a member of their junior dance team. She later earned a spot on the Bucks’ professional dance squad before gradually moving into the role of in-game host, a job she has now held for nine years. “My role directly impacts the fans, hyping them up and keeping them engaged and making sure there are good vibes in the arena,” says Ricks. “The players truly feed off that.” This season, Ricks also had a chance to serve as on-court reporter for a game. “Another dream realized. It’s a big role,” she says. 

As a lifelong local resident, Ricks, 30, felt strong emotions witnessing the Bucks capture the title. “I’m definitely a fan first, so it felt like we all did it. I never felt like this was only the team’s championship to be proud of. I felt like it was the city’s, and the state’s, to be proud of.”

Photo courtesy of Melanie Ricks



 
 
4.

Julia “JuJu” Grams: Bucks Grand Dancer

SUPERPOWER: IRRESISTABLE ENERGY

Recognizable for her boundless energy, Julia Grams, 62, is in her fourth season as a member of the Bucks Grand Dancers, a group of on-court performers age 55 and up. “My daughter [Liz] was a Bucks dancer. She’s the one who encouraged me to try out,” says Grams, whose day job is teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools. “Being on the court is an amazing thing, just seeing the joy we bring people and the smiles on their faces. Fans are excited to see that we are happy and out there living our lives.”

Grams enjoys perfecting her dance moves with encouragement from the younger members of the Bucks’ entertainment crew. “I’ve been able to floss a little bit, and I try to twerk. Those are just fun moments.” 

Photo by Carole Nicksin


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.