Ciara, CC Sabathia And Debi Nova Reflect On ‘When I Was 17′

'To this day, even when I perform, there's still a cheerleader in me,' CiCi says of her pom-pom days.

Did you know that hip-hop siren Ciara was once a pom-pom-shakin’ high-kickin’ cheerleader? Or that Costa Rican transplant Debi Nova ‘s first major decision in America involved toilet paper? Or that major-league hurler CC Sabathia was a high school art-class mess-maker?

It’s all true. And we didn’t get these details via Twitter feeds or Facebook pages; we heard their stories via the stars themselves, when they appeared on MTV’s “When I Was 17.”

Ciara said she was “very determined” as a teenager attending Riverdale High School in Atlanta. It was in her 17th year when she faced one of her first major life decisions. “I loved cheerleading. Dancing, the game, the excitement, everything was fun about it to me,” Ciara said. But just after being named captain, her music career began to take off, and she was forced to decide between her two loves. “My dad said, ‘You’re going to have to choose,’ and I had to quit,” she admitted. However, apparently you can’t take the pom-poms out of a girl. “To this day, even when I perform, there’s still a cheerleader in me,” Ciara said proudly.

Native Costa Rican Debi Nova, who claimed she was “a big nerd” in high school, remembers a very specific moment when she was 17. “There was a very specific story that marked my coming-to-America moment,” the “Drummer Boy” singer explains. “Very first week I get here, I go into the supermarket because I need some toilet paper. I go in the toilet-paper aisle, and I’m like, ‘OK, unscented, aloe vera, recycled, non-recycled, double-ply, triple-ply, four rolls, eight rolls, 12 rolls, 32 rolls. What do you want?’ … That really was a metaphor for what this country represented to me: options. A world of options. So, the toilet-paper aisle. That’s my metaphor for coming to America.”

For CC Sabathia, his 17th year marks a major moment in Major League Baseball history: Sabathia was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2001, becoming the youngest player in the sport of baseball when he made his major-league debut. So it’s no surprise that before beginning his professional pitching career, Sabathia was into his high school sports teams in a big way. “I was the jock at the school,” Sabathia said. “I played three sports.” He was also a bit of a troublemaker. “I liked to have fun,” he admitted. “I was a jokester. … I remember one time in my junior year, in my art class, our teacher had us doing, like, finger paints, and I went and put a stripe on a girl’s shirt, and it turned into a big paint fight,” he laughed. “Paint all over the walls, all over everybody. It was pretty fun. … I did a lot of bad stuff I guess.”

Don’t miss “When I Was 17,” airing Saturdays at 11 a.m. on MTV!