Sports

30 Athletes Who Squandered The Most Talent

Darren - May 12, 2021
Sports

30 Athletes Who Squandered The Most Talent

Darren - May 12, 2021
Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

21. Stephon Marbury

Marbury was the fourth overall pick in 1996 but spent eight years playing in the Chinese Basketball League. This should explain everything about his career because he lacked the motivation to make it in the NBA. However, his talent was enough for him to stand out in the lesser Chinese league. It’s a shame because Marbury had a ton of talent but didn’t have the self-awareness to use it properly.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

After feuding with several of his coaches, Marbury effectively alienated himself from the NBA. Meanwhile, he also slept with an intern too. These poor decisions meant that he squandered his career. It’s not that Marbury was a bad person because he donated massive sums of money to charity. It just wasn’t easy to work with him and he was better as a big fish in a small pond.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

20. Adam Jones

Jones has reached the stage where fans don’t raise an eyebrow when police arrest him. It’s as inevitable as sunshine in California. The former Cincinnati Bengals star was genuinely an elite athlete but was also too crazy for his own good. If anybody could find a party on a Tuesday night it was ‘Pacman.’ However, this usually meant that he spent the night in jail for beating up strippers.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

His off-the-field issues cost him most of two seasons as law enforcement investigated him for a shooting incident. At the time, the Titans described him as amazing on the field but a total disaster off of it. ‘Pacman’ made the Pro Bowl in 2015 so there’s no doubting he had the ability to be brilliant. He squandered his chances with his temperamental behavior in day-to-day life.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

19. Jon Jones

The inclusion of Jones on this list may seem bizarre but he appears for good reason. While he is one of the most successful champions in the history of the UFC, he has also squandered the opportunity to become a true bonafide superstar. Jones suffered multiple suspensions for PED use as well as criminal behavior. This affected his personal growth as the face of the promotion.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

If Jones stayed clean he would without question be the greatest MMA fighter ever. Now many people discount him from this conversation because he tested positive for steroids. Furthermore, he doesn’t capture the imagination of fans in the same way as other fighters, as his PPV returns prove. If Jones maintained a stable existence and focused on his career, he may have a bigger fanbase.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

18. Johnny Manziel

It’s reasonable to question how talented Manziel was in the first place. However, his antics and personal attitude definitely didn’t help his case. Fans of the Cleveland Browns still shudder when they think of the Heisman-winning quarterback. Sometimes hard work can compensate for deficiencies in other areas. But Manziel didn’t know the meaning of this.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He spent two dire seasons with the Browns before heading north of the border. While he lacked consistency on the field, fans may have forgiven him for his limitations if he had shown the desire to be a leader. Meanwhile, Manziel was also a druggie and spent more time at parties than playing games of football. In short, he squandered all of his careers and made fans hate him.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

17. JaMarcus Russell

Al Davis thought he had brought a franchise quarterback to the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Head Coach Lane Kiffin didn’t want Russell but Davis was determined to bring him in. It emerged as one of the worst mistakes in NFL history because Russell was worse than appalling for the team. First of all, there was a ridiculous salary dispute before he even threw a ball in anger.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But things became worse when he eventually stepped onto the field. Russell endured savage weight problems throughout his short NFL career. Meanwhile, he also allegedly had a problem with codeine that affected him. Indiscipline and a lack of motivation cost him a career at the top of the sport. It’s crazy to recall that he was the first overall pick because he totally squandered his career.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

16. Stephen Ireland

Ireland broke out as a superb midfielder for Manchester City in the Premier League. His excellent form saw him receive a call up by the Republic of Ireland national team. It looked like he was going to become one of the best in the league. But a new manager pushed him out and he ended up at Aston Villa. From then on, Ireland was no longer the same dedicated player.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

A combination of injuries and a lack of motivation meant that he squandered a significant chunk of his career. One manager, Paul Lambert, left him out because of ‘footballing reasons.’ Meanwhile, he failed to report for Irish national duty after he claimed that both of his grandmothers died. It turned out that both women were happily still alive in an incredibly bizarre incident.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

15. Alexander Daigle

Many critics accused the Ottawa Senators of intentionally losing games toward the end of the 1992 season because they were so desperate to draft Daigle. He was one of the hottest prospects of the decade and many people believed that he was going to be a megastar. The Senators threw the biggest rookie salary of all-time in his direction but it wasn’t worth it.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

His rookie season was actually decent but after this, it all went downhill. Daigle was one of the least motivated players in NHL history and cared more about living the high life instead of performing on the ice. He wanted to be a celebrity instead of being an elite athlete and fell out of love with the sport. In short, he squandered his ability because his mindset was totally wrong.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

14. Nile Ranger

Ranger came through the ranks at Newcastle United in the Premier League. It looked like he possessed the physical gifts to be a force at the top of the game. Unfortunately, the young man squandered his potential because of his friends and inability to escape the dark forces of the world. Ranger spent time in prison as a teenager because he took part in an armed robbery.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

Meanwhile, he was a nightmare to coach because of his total lack of self-discipline. He frequently failed to report to practice on multiple occasions and partied excessively. Meanwhile, he was also involved in a high-profile rape case which scared many clubs off from signing him. Ranger spent most of his career with lower-league teams like Swindon Town and Southend United.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

13. Ryan Leaf

Many fans and analysts somehow believed that Leaf was a better pick than Peyton Manning in the 1998 draft. He was rawer than Manning but the idea was that he had better long-term potential. That’s why the San Diego Chargers were delighted to use the second overall pick on him. However, Leaf demonstrated appalling immaturity during his time in California and alienated his teammates.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He squandered his talents by partying and playing golf instead of focusing on learning plays. He started 18 times in four seasons but only won four games. Meanwhile, his drug problems after he retired from football were well-documented. It’s sad, but he was never in control of his life. Leaf was a sensational talent as he proved with Washington State, however, that wasn’t enough.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

12. Chris Washburn

The Golden State Warriors selected Washburn with the third overall pick in 1986. He was one of the top prospects in the nation but ended up becoming one of the worst busts ever. Nobody expected him to decline as badly as he did because he was immensely talented at the college level. Unfortunately, Washburn’s problems off the field meant that he squandered his professional career.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

Washburn struggled with cocaine use throughout his time with the Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks. In the end, the NBA permanently banned him after he failed three drug tests. He also had kidney problems after an overreliance on anti-inflammatories. Washburn’s later life wasn’t particularly great either because he spent time on the streets and endured legal problems.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. Billy Joe Saunders

Saunders has reams of talent but the boxer simply lacks the mental discipline to be an all-time great. A two-weight champion, his boxing nous is definitely there. However, the UK fighter also courts controversy and drama like few other athletes. He went 30-0 before running into Canelo Alvarez, but this record is misleading. None of his previous opponents were of the same caliber as the Mexican fighter.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The former WBO Super-Middleweight champion squandered the love of the public because of his vile personal antics. The British Boxing Board of Control suspended his license after he used a punching bag to demonstrate how to beat a woman. Meanwhile, he also targeted boxing legend, Barry McGuigan, by mocking his deceased daughter. Saunders tested positive for oxilofrine in 2018 and lost his middleweight belt.

Mandatory Credit: Marca

10. Adriano

Brazil has an outstanding tradition of producing world-class elite strikers. The likes of Pele and Ronaldo instantly jump to mind but there has been a dearth of quality in recent years. Everybody thought that Adriano was the man to replace Ronaldo in the mid-2000s because he was a monster for Inter Milan. Unfortunately, he squandered his talents by his penchant for Italian nightlife.

Mandatory Credit: AS English

Like his compatriot Luis Fabinho, Adriano suffered injuries. Meanwhile, he ballooned in weight because of his hard-partying lifestyle and indiscipline off the field. As a result, he never rose to the same level as Ronaldo, even though he had the physical gifts required. Talent simply isn’t enough for elite athletes to succeed in the long term because hard work and dedication are also essential.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Baron Davis

On paper, Davis has a good resume. But that disguises the fact that arguably he squandered his full potential. He was a two-time All-Star and led the league in steals twice. However, a lack of consistency robbed him of legendary status. It was there waiting for him to seize it, but he couldn’t do it. Furthermore, Davis had weight issues at various points of his career and this affected his on-court performances.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Davis’s injuries began to add up as his career progressed. It’s unfair to label this as the reason he wasted his talents because that was out of his control. Despite this, he could have controlled his weight but failed to do so on certain occasions. His influence was evident for the New Orleans Hornets because they made the playoffs in each of the five seasons he played in for the franchise.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

8. LeVeon Bell

It’s fair to say that the last few years have not been kind to Bell. The running back was one of the most scintillating athletes in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steeler. He became a three-time Pro Bowler while playing for the franchise. However, things came to a head when he rejected the franchise tag and squandered a year of his career by sitting out. Then, it got worse with a move to the Jets.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The team and coach Adam Gase were an absolute mess and had no idea how to use him effectively. In those circumstances, it was very difficult for him to recapture his previous form. Finally, the Jets released him from this painful saga and he joined the Kansas City Chiefs. But it was still difficult for Bell to establish himself as a starter and when they lost the Super Bowl to Tampa Bay, it summed up his career.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

7. Ravel Morrison

Sadly, talent isn’t everything in sport. If it was, then Morrison would be one of the greatest players in soccer history. But he’s on this list because he squandered his talent in the most dramatic manner possible. After refusing to wait his chance at Man Utd, he left for West Ham. However, it didn’t work out. Off-the-field issues and indiscipline cost him terribly and sent him on a nomadic path to Italy and Mexico.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson explained where it all went wrong to team captain Rio Ferdinand. “The boy had a good heart,” he said. “He was just beaten by his background.” Unfortunately, in the cases of many elite athletes, this is the situation. They possess all of the physical attributes but there are too many distractions off the field.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. Andrew Bynum

Bynum is another example of an elite athlete who put his extracurricular activities above his chances at greatness. In 2010, he rocked the Lakers organization by announcing he required knee surgery just hours before the new season. Meanwhile, he jaunted around Europe and attended the FIFA World Cup in South Africa before the start of the season despite the advice of doctors.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt that Bynum was very talented because he was a part of two championship-winning Lakers’ teams. Furthermore, he played in a single All-Star game. However, his contribution to L.A’s growth and progression as a franchise wasn’t what it could have been. Also, if he hadn’t squandered his career he would have played in many more showpiece games.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Isaiah Wilson

When the Tennessee Titans used their first draft pick of 2020 to select Wilson, it looked like a good move. Nobody expected the offensive tackle to become one of the worst draft busts of all time. He was a marauding presence for Georgia but never delivered for Tenessee. But that’s exactly what happened as he squandered his chance of greatness in the NFL. Police arrested him before the start of his rookie season on DUI charges.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

This didn’t endear him to the Titans but things became even worse for Wilson. A mixture of injuries, illness, and indiscipline meant that he featured in just one game all season. Finally, he left Nashville for the Miami Dolphins after the Titans cut their losses. But he lasted for less than two weeks in Miami after deciding that professional football wasn’t for him. The 29th overall pick decided to become a rapper instead.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

4. Mario Balotelli

Italian soccer star Balotelli is one of the most volatile personalities in the history of the sport. There is no malice in the striker but he definitely squandered his career. He broke onto the scene with Inter Milan before moving to Manchester City. Since then, it’s been all downhill because he lacks the consistency and motivation to be one of the best in the world. He had massive potential but never lived up to it.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

“I could write a book of 200 pages of my two years at Inter with Mario, but the book would not be a drama – it would be a comedy,” former coach Jose Mourinho described of his time with Balotelli. Balotelli once called the fire brigade after setting fireworks off in his own home. Another time, he crashed his Lamborghini into a women’s prison. Meanwhile, his love for partying affected his on-field performances.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Lamar Odom

In 1999, Odom was the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft, a testament to his potential and ability. But it’s fair to say that he never reached the lofty heights that he was capable of. Sadly, Odom became more famous for his wretched relationship with Khloe Kardashian and his personal problems. These included substance abuse and a fondness for visiting prostitutes.

Mandatory Credit: Variety

In fact, Odom almost died after entering a coma while in a Nevada brothel. Kardashian attempted to divorce him before this but waited until he was fully rehabilitated before pursuing the split. Odom spent a substantial period with the LA Lakers and played a significant role in back-to-back championship wins. But he never reached the level of a Bryant, LeBron, or Steph Curry because he squandered his talent.

Mandatory Credit: Golf Channel

2. Tiger Woods

Woods should alone as the greatest golfer of all time, but his own vices held him back. This is a shame because his record remains stunning and is up there alongside Jack Nicklaus’s as the very best in the sport. Only Nicklaus won more Majors than Woods who has 15 to his name. Meanwhile, in 2021, Woods was tied with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour event wins with 82.

Mandatory Credit: Golf Digest

But he should have been out in front of the back and would have been if he hadn’t squandered his career. Woods endured an awful sex addiction that culminated at the end of his marriage and his downward spiral. He went 11 years without winning a Major before finally claiming the Open in 2019. However, it’s fair to say that he could have won many more during that time period if his life remained stable.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Conor McGregor

McGregor’s inclusion on this list may appear bizarre because of his achievements. As a former two-weight UFC champion, the Irishman became the biggest name in combat sports. Meanwhile, he made a sensational amount of money after a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. However, ‘The Notorious’ squandered his talent over the next couple of years as he allowed fame and money to go to his head.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Dubliner has endured many high-profile legal problems over the past number of years. Furthermore, his love of partying and the high-life has affected his motivation. While McGregor’s influence on MMA is undeniable, his legacy will not be what it could have been. There is time for the former champion to reclaim his place at the top of the heap but fans will never consider him the best.

Advertisement