Top 10 Sports Figures Who Blew It
Despite brilliant careers, many sporting figures have blown their reputations away by foolishness or crime. This is a list of the top 10.
10. Pete Rose (1941 – Reds, Phillies, Expos – Reds Manager)
In August 1989, three years after he retired as an active player, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds; some accusations claimed that he bet on, and even against, the Reds. After years of public denial, in 2004 he admitted to betting on, but not against, the Reds. After Rose’s ban was instated, the Baseball Hall of Fame formally voted to ban those on the “permanently ineligible” list from induction. His hordes of adoring fans each, in their own way, continue to plead for his inclusion into the Hall, but thus far, no one is bending. So, I guess that just goes to show you how incomprehensibly stupid it is to bet while still employed by the MLB. Nice one, Charlie Hustle.
Despite his accomplishments on the field, Lewis’ public image was tarnished following a Super Bowl party on January 31, 2000. Following this party a fight broke out and Jacinth Baker, 21, and Richard Lollar, 24, died from stab wounds. Lewis and two companions, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting, were brought to an Atlanta Police station for questioning. During the questioning Lewis lied to investigators by saying he didn’t know the other two suspects. However Lewis’ limo driver told the police that he saw Lewis punch one of the victims. The limo driver further stated that Lewis told the other occupants to stay quiet, and that Sweeting and Oakley stated “I stabbed mine”. Eleven days later, along with Oakley and Sweeting, Ray Lewis was indicted for murder and aggravated assault. Lewis’s attorney arranged with prosecutors to dismiss the murder charges if Lewis pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice in exchange for him testifying against Oakley and Sweeting. Lewis accepted this plea bargain, and he was sentenced to one year probation. He was not suspended by the NFL but was fined a league-record at the time $250,000. And he continues to ‘kill’ on the field to this day! My hero!
8. Ty Cobb (1886-1961 – Tigers, A’s – Tigers Manager)
On May 15, 1912, in New York’s Highland Park, the Detroit Tigers were playing the hometown New York Highlanders. In the stands behind home plate was a Highlander fan named Claude Lueker who was giving Detroit’s Ty Cobb a tough time. A really tough time. According to spectators who were in the stands that day, Lueker hurled insults and epithets at Cobb every time the Georgia Peach came to the plate. By the end of the fifth inning, Cobb warned the Highlanders manager and the umpires that if the man wasn’t ejected from the game, there was going to be some serious trouble. Nothing was done to the rambunctious fan, and so when he called the notoriously racist Cobb a “half-nigger” in the bottom of the sixth inning, the ferocious outfielder climbed into the crowded stands, leapt upon the man and began beating him senseless. Other fans began pleading with Cobb to stop the physical attack because the foul-mouthed Mr. Lueker had no hands. He had apparently lost them years earlier in an industrial accident. As the crowd pleaded, Cobb responded as he pummeled the man, “I don’t care if he’s got no feet!” American League Commissioner Ban Johnson, who was at the game that day, immediately suspended Cobb indefinitely from baseball. See where protecting your good name gets you? I’m not even a half-‘N-Word’ and I would have done the same thing.
On June 25th, 2007, Professional Wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their Fayetteville, GA, home at around 2:30 p.m. The Fayette County, Georgia Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating this case. Police entered Benoit’s home on a “welfare check” after several missed appointments, and found three dead bodies. Investigators confirmed that Benoit, over a three day period, murdered his wife and son and subsequently committed suicide. Thanks to the hurried response by Vince McMahon and the WWE, he was immortalized in a 2-hour segment covering his lengthy career… oops, should have waited! Not until nearly the full way through the show did the WWE come to realize that this was a double murder/suicide. Open mouth, insert foot.
6. Darryl Strawberry (1962 – Mets, Dodgers, Giants, Yankees)
Strawberry began to use alcohol and eventually he started to experiment with cocaine and amphetamines. Strawberry had been drinking beer casually since high school but started using drugs upon his arrival with the Mets as a way to fit in. It was easy to drink after the game as the team gave the players complimentary beer and then he and other Mets would continue the party often all night long. He began to use amphetamines to overcome his hangovers before games. By 1987 he was drinking virtually every night and was using more cocaine. Though he reached career highs in batting average (.283), home runs (39), and RBIs (104) he was starting to wear on the Mets organization. He skipped part of spring training and then missed a late-season game claiming he had a virus. In January 1989 Strawberry was arrested after a domestic violence complaint by his wife. Strawberry spent a short time in an alcohol rehabilitation center and admitted that he had a problem with alcohol, though he told no one at the center about his drug use. The only thing worse than his professional life was his private life. To cope with his back injury and personal problems, he resumed drinking alcohol and soon after he turned to cocaine. He had an altercation with a homeless man in September of 1993 and then divorced his wife in October. Later that year Strawberry uttered the infamous comment about his hometown. When informed that people were rioting and looting in Los Angeles he said, “Let it burn”. In 1994, the government said Strawberry owed $146,000 in taxes on income he hadn’t reported. Strawberry was facing jail time, his legal bills were bankrupting him, and he turned to alcohol, which led him to do a line or two of cocaine. His brief cocaine use caused him to fail a drug test. He was released from the Giants and received a sixty-day suspension from baseball. Suddenly Strawberry was broke, had no income, and was facing a trial. On Wednesday, April 15th, 1999, he was arrested for possession of .3 grams of cocaine after allegedly soliciting a prostitute, who turned out to be an undercover police officer. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig put Strawberry on administrative leave, which meant he was not able to play or practice with the team. Strawberry claimed that the cocaine did not belong to him, and he was joking with the woman and would not have met her at a hotel. The Yankees kept him off the 40-man roster and some sources believe the team suspended his pay. That appeared to be it for his illustrious career, aside from about fifteen more minor infractions. Stellar.
5. Ron Artest (1979 – Bulls, Pacers, Kings)
On November, 19th, 2004, Artest took center stage in arguably the most infamous brawl in professional basketball history. The game took place in Auburn Hills Michigan between Artest’s Pacers and the home team Detroit Pistons. The brawl began when Artest fouled Pistons center Ben Wallace as Wallace was putting up a shot. Wallace, upset at being fouled hard when the game was effectively over (the Pacers led 97-82), responded by shoving Artest, leading to an altercation near the scorer’s table. Artest walked to the sideline and lay down on the scorer’s table, while mocking Wallace. Wallace then threw an armband at Artest while he pretended to give a radio interview at the scorer’s table. Reacting to Wallace throwing something at Artest, Pistons fan John Green threw a cup of beer at Artest, hitting him. Artest jumped into the front-row seats and confronted a man he believed to be responsible (who turned out to be the wrong man), which in turn erupted into a brawl between Pistons fans and several of the Pacers. Artest returned to the basketball court, and punched Pistons fan A.J. Shackleford, who was apparently taunting Artest verbally. This fight resulted in the game being stopped with less than a minute remaining. Artest and teammates Jermaine O’Neil and Stephen Jackson were suspended indefinitely the day after the game, along with Wallace. On November 21st, the NBA announced that Artest would be suspended for the remainder of the season (73 games plus playoff appearances). This is the longest non-drug or betting related suspension in NBA history. Now that’s something to be proud of. Jackass.
Tyson was arrested in July 1991 for the rape of Miss Black Rhode Island, Desree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. Tyson was convicted on the charge on Feb., 10th, 1992. Tyson’s trial is chronicled in the book, Down For The Count by Mark Shaw. It strongly suggests that Tyson would not have been convicted if he had been provided adequate legal defense counsel and that Tyson thus did not receive a fair trial. Under Indiana law, a defendant convicted of a felony must begin serving his prison sentence immediately after the sentence is imposed. He was given a sentence of six years and was released on March 1995 after serving three years. On June 28th, 1997, the second bout between Tyson and Holyfield would become one of the most controversial events in modern sports. The fight was stopped at the end of the third round, with Tyson disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. One bite was severe enough to remove a piece of Holyfield’s right ear, which was found on the ring floor after the fight. Tyson later stated that it was retaliation for Holyfield repeatedly head butting him without penalty. In the confusion that followed the ending of the bout and announcement of the decision, a near riot erupted in the arena and several people were injured in the ensuing melee. On July 29th, 1997, Tyson’s boxing license was revoked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in a unanimous voice vote; he was also fined USD $3-million and ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing. The revocation was not permanent, as a little more than a year later on October 18th, 1998, the commission voted 4-1 to restore Tyson’s boxing license. Legal problems caught up with Tyson once again. On February 6th, 1999, Tyson was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, fined $5,000, and ordered to serve two years probation and perform 200 hours of community service for assaulting two motorists after a traffic accident on Aug. 31st, 1998. He served nine months of that sentence. You know, being a monster in the ring that subsequently leads to clean bouts and great boxing is one thing, but being a drugged-out juggernaut in the real world is always going to get your dumb ass in trouble.
3. Rae Carruth (1974 – Panthers)
On November 16th, 1999, near Carruth’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cherica Adams, a woman Carruth had been dating, was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. Surviving the shooting for a time, Adams called 911 and described Carruth’s behavior: He had stopped his vehicle in front of hers as another vehicle drove alongside Adams’ and its passenger shot her. Carruth then drove from the scene. Adams was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s child. It was later found out she was pregnant with twins. Soon after her admission to the hospital, Adams fell into a coma. Doctors saved one of the children’s lives, the other later died from complications. Later, Carruth went to the police and posted a $3 million bond, with the condition that if either Adams or the children died, he would turn himself in. However, after Adams died, Carruth became a fugitive. The Panthers released him a few days later, citing a morals clause in his contract. He was eventually captured after being found hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel in Parkers Crossroads, Tennessee. Also, in the trunk was $3,900 in cash, bottles to hold Carruth’s urine, extra clothes, candy bars, and a cell phone. At trial Rae Carruth was defended by David Rudolph and was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder by shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison. However, Carruth was found not guilty of 1st-degree murder and was spared the death penalty. Carruth is now serving a sentence of at least 18 years and 11 months at Nash Correctional Institution near Raleigh, NC. According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections, he has a projected release date of October 22, 2018. Wow, shooting a woman who is pregnant is like an instant ticket on the bus to Hell. Congrats.
2. Michael Vick (1980 – Falcons)
Michael Dwayne Vick is a suspended National Football League (NFL) quarterback under contract with the Atlanta Falcons team serving a 23 month sentence of incarceration for criminal conspiracy resulting from felonious dog fighting. A U.S. federal district court convicted and sentenced him in 2007 and a 2008 trial is scheduled for related Virginia state felony charges for his role in the dog fighting ring and related gambling activity. He is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. This is the official, “How To Ruin A Promising Quarterback Career” Step One. His ticket has been punched and he’s going to ride on the same bus as Carruth. Dog fighting. Despicable.
1. OJ Simpson (1947 – Bills, 49ers)
Besides his Hall of Fame career, Simpson is infamous for having been tried for the murder of ex-wife Nicole-Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994. He was acquitted in criminal court in 1995 after a lengthy, highly publicized trial. In 1997, Simpson was found liable for their deaths in civil court, but to date has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment. He gained further notoriety in late 2006 when he wrote a book titled If I Did It. The book, which purports to be a first-person fictional account of the murder had he actually committed it, was withdrawn by the publisher just before its release. The book was later released by the Goldman family and the title of the book was expanded to If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. In September 2007, Simpson faced more legal troubles, as he was arrested and subsequently charged with numerous felonies including but not limited to robbery, burglary, and assault, all with a deadly weapon, first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon (which carries possible life sentence), coercion with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit a crime. This guy, the absolute most abhorrent criminal in the sporting world, regardless (in my opinion) of his innocence, is about as criminally clean as Satan. If anyone out there who is reading this believes, whole-heartedly, that OJ is anything other than GUILTY, let me hear about it, because I am so not convinced. As he spends his days searching for the ‘real killer’ on the golf course while avoiding his restitution obligations, I’ll maintain that his ass deserves to be put to death by firing squad.