Being a sports star is the dream of many people across the planet. Like it or not, if you’re an elite athlete, you’re also a de facto role model. Not every athlete wants that role because of the pressure involved. In fact, many athletes take the opposite route due to extreme behavior. Some sports stars lose their minds and become involved in crazy incidents.
Today we’re going to take a look at 40 athletes, both active and retired, who have been involved in extreme lunacy throughout their lives. For some of them, it was a one-off due to unforeseen circumstances, or at the very least they’ve stabilized now. They include arrests, assaults, and lots of drugs. But they’re all compelling stories. Check out 40 athletes who totally lost their minds below via The Sportster.
40. Tiger Woods
Many athletes have lost their minds, but few have ever endured a fall from grace like Woods. The legendary golfer was on top of the world until it crashed down around him. Before 2010, he maintained a clean-cut image. But then news broke about his serial infidelities. This ended his marriage to Swedish supermodel Elin Nordegren. Meanwhile, it looked like Woods was finished.
However, he rebounded to win more majors and stabilize his life. He admitted to sex addiction and attended rehab to overcome it. The 15-time Major winner is a spectacular talent and one of the greatest of all-time. Nowadays, he is in a healthy relationship with restaurant manager Erica Herman. The road to redemption was a long one for the Presidential Medal of Freedom holder.
Several UFC fighters have lost their minds throughout the short history of the promotion. But few achieved the same level of craziness as Perry. The Florida native is effectively a walking example of all of the state’s negative stereotypes. This initially attracted fans because they liked his authenticity and unpredictable nature. However, in recent times, his reputation took a massive hit.
His ex-girlfriend accused him of domestic violence, which is never a good look. Meanwhile, he entered an altercation with an older man in a restaurant and even hit him. As a professional combat sports athlete, this is unacceptable. Furthermore, he posted an image of his bloody leg after kicking through a glass window. This was a terrible idea but Perry is a very angry man. Hopefully, he receives the help that he requires.
Now for a change of pace. Most athletes who lost their minds did so in a negative manner. However, ‘Gronk’ is quite simply an entertaining lunatic. The Tampa Bay Buccanneers’ star built up his reputation in New England as one of the hardest partiers in the NFL. As a result, everybody loves him. It’s impossible to hate a man who takes so much joy from living his best life.
The tight end partied with porn stars and attended party after party throughout his career. It’s entirely possible his body contains more liquor than blood at this point. Despite this, he maintains himself in excellent condition and there are no controversial stories about him. But when he parties, he really parties. Gronkowski knows how to have a great time.
England’s record goalscorer, Rooney was one of the Premier League’s best players for over a decade. He had a decorated career as he starred for Manchester United. The Liverpudlian broke onto the scene with Everton as a 16-year-old and enjoyed a glorious stretch of top-shelf stats. However, he was no stranger to controversy as his wife Coleen attests. Rooney regularly cheated on his wife.
There are many stories of athletes cheating on their spouses. Ordinary people look at their model girlfriends and wives and wonder if they have lost their minds. But Rooney went further by sleeping with a middle-aged prostitute who was also a grandmother. This was the grubbiest moment of his life, but it wasn’t the only time he was involved in an infidelity scandal.
Azaitar was living the dream. The Moroccan MMA fighter was unbeaten as he entered 2021 with a 13-0 record. This included two wins with the UFC. The promotion booked him to fight on the same card as Conor McGregor to maximize his exposure. However, Azaitar and his team lost their minds in one of the most bizarre MMA scandals of the past few years.
The UFC immediately cut him because he breached health regulations in their bubble on Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island. Allegedly, he gave his identity wristband to outsiders and then made his way across hotel balconies with a bag. Then, he went outside of the bubble. Of course, this put the entire event in danger because of the risk of exposure. It was a ridiculous thing to do and damaged his career prospects.
Avery drove other players out of their minds because he was a bit crazy. But unlike some other entries on this list, it wasn’t in an endearing way. The former Dallas Stars’ wing was a notorious trash-talker and wasn’t afraid to cross the line. For example, he targeted an opponent over his leukemia which seems like a step too far. However, this type of behavior was the norm for Avery.
He accused other players of dating his ‘sloppy-seconds’ Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter. The NHL condemned him for this and handed him a suspension. Meanwhile, he was also a rabid fighter and regularly started brawls on the ice. A complex and eccentric individual, Avery worked in fashion after he retired from hockey and also moved into the world of acting.
Keane is one of the most intense individuals the Premier League ever saw. This made him a brilliant captain for Manchester United because he forced his teammates to raise their standards. However, he saw red upon occasion because of his hot-headed nature. Many athletes lost their minds but few have ended careers as Keane did to Norway’s Alf-Inge Haaland.
In 1997, Keane suffered an ACL tear and Haaland accused him of faking injury as he writhed in agony. Then he said that the Irishman was afraid to look him in the eye. Keane never forgot this but bided his time. Then, five years later, he scythed the Norwegian down with a brutal tackle. He revealed in his biography that it was deliberate and that he wanted to end Haaland’s career.
Jonathan Koppenhaver changed his name to ‘War Machine’ in 2008 as he demonstrated that he is a crazy person. Few people on this list lost their minds in the deranged, psychopathic manner of the former MMA fighter. Notorious for his brutal assault on ex-girlfriend Christy Mack, he is serving a 36-year sentence after the steroid-fueled attack in 2014.
The former fighter almost killed Mack. The porn star suffered 18 broken bones and ruptured organs. Meanwhile, War Machine also knocked out almost 20 of her teeth in the savage attack. Koppenhaver endured a horrible childhood because his mother was a drug addict. He also witnessed his father die from a heart attack in front of him. In sum, he hasn’t led a happy life.
Wilson was one of the most disappointing rookies from the 2020 NFL draft. The Tenessee Titans used their first-round pick on the University of Georgia starlet. A physical specimen, Wilson possesses incredible athletic gifts, but it’s too bad that he was unable to put them to good use in his rookie year. Some youngsters lose their minds because of the sudden wealth and fame when they make the NFL.
Perhaps Wilson was one of these. It’s difficult to assess a player’s ability when they don’t play. Police arrested Wilson before the season even started for DUI. Then, he breached their health regulations and was unable to train or play for multiple weeks. The veteran Dennis Kelly benefited from Wilson’s immaturity because he played in every game of the regular season.
A mercurial talent, Suarez lit up England and Spain with incredible goals. The Uruguayan is a brilliant striker but is also a master of the dark arts. He once intentionally blocked a certain goal with his hands to deny Ghana a chance of scoring in the World Cup. In short, he does whatever it takes to win. But sometimes, he sees a red haze and does something so impetuous it’s ridiculous.
Suarez bit two players in his career in Branislav Ivanovic and Giorgio Chiellini. To do it once was crazy, but twice was bizarre and suggestive of an unhinged nature. Soccer players usually commit horrific tackles when they lose their minds, but biting is a very unusual reflex. Furthermore, Suarez served a lengthy ban after he racially abused Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Former Clippers and Blazers center Chris Kaman has always been a little bit crazy. Actually, it might be a good idea to make friends with the German-American because he’s definitely the man to be around if a nuclear war kicks off. No, seriously. Kaman spends his free time preparing for Armageddon. Many people will lose their minds if it happens, but Kaman is ready.
A firearms and fireworks enthusiast, Kaman is definitely going to be one of the last men standing when it comes to the end of the world. He also believes in zero gun control. This savage posted on Instagram a picture of him posing with two assault rifles the day after the Aurora shootings. This is one of the most distasteful entries on this list of athletes who lost their minds.
We all know about Mike Tyson. The former unified heavyweight champion of the world was one of the most powerful boxers of all time. Honestly, watching him fight in his prime was like going to an Aztec sacrifice. Everybody knew what was going to happen, but there was some sort of brutal beauty in it all the same. Meanwhile, he has done more crazy stuff than many of the athletes who lost their minds on this list.
Tyson has been quiet over the last few years since getting into the marijuana business, but he’s done enough crazy stuff to last several lifetimes. ‘Iron Mike’ has bitten off ears, owned tigers, gotten a facial tattoo, and threatened to eat children. He also served a jail sentence after a court convicted him of rape. All of a sudden, his pigeon racing reality show looks kind of normal.
When a man legally changes his name from Ron Artest to ‘Metta World Peace,’ you know there are a few things going on inside his brain that we can’t see. The former NBA Defensive Player of the Year is known for his outspoken and eccentric views – but that didn’t stop him from having a successful basketball career.
A key player in the ‘Malice in the Palace’ brawl back in 2004, World Peace was suspended for 86 games, the longest in the history of the NBA. He also lost almost $5 million in salary in fines. One of the most outspoken athletes in the game, World Peace is now working as a development coach with the South Bay Lakers.
Brett Favre was a massive fan favorite in the NFL, but he may have taken a few more hits to the head than he needed to. One of the most notorious incidents the former quarterback was involved in was the scandal with Jenn Sterger, where he sent the former Playboy and Maxim model lewd pictures and messages. No one is sure if that was due to those hits or just plain stupidity.
Favre is known to have moments of wildness as well. He once helped to drown a deer after trespassing on private property and shooting the animal. The only way they could kill the poor creature without firing more shots was to hold its head underwater until the bubbles stopped coming out. Yep, he’s that type of guy. Oh, and according to his former teammate Ty Detmer, he doesn’t change his underwear.
Inexplicably, Dennis Rodman is buddies with North Korea’s notorious and feared dictator Kim Jong Un. How and why this is the case, the world still has no idea, but when Rodman is involved it all makes sense. Apart from his short career as a diplomat, he’s also famous for outrageous fashion choices, impulsive marriages, and generally being a wild man.
Sadly, these days he’s suffered a lot from financial struggles and has also had problems with drug and alcohol abuse. In 2019 he was accused of helping to steal around $3500 worth of equipment and furnishings from a yoga studio in Los Angeles. As of yet, no charges have been filed.
‘Gazza’ is one of the most tragic stories in the history of soccer because of what could have been. The Tottenham Hotspurs legend was the most naturally gifted player of his generation but curtailed his career after rupturing his knee in a poorly timed tackle in the 1991 FA Cup final. He got into a bar fight during his rehab, which set him back even further.
After an incredibly bright start to his career, Gascoigne’s body let him down. Since retiring from soccer, the former England star has had to deal with alcoholism and substance addiction. He’s been arrested and sectioned multiple times. Currently, he’s in the middle of a sexual assault case. It’s a sad story and a warning to all athletes to take their career seriously.
During his days as a player for AC Milan, Gennaro Gattuso was renowned for being a bit of a lunatic on the pitch. A snarling, charismatic, aggressive presence, he was one of the best in his position in the world. But he was also mental. Gattuso famously slapped Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in 2003 and was ejected from the match. Any discussion about athletes losing their minds must involve this crazy Italian.
His most iconic moment was in a match against Tottenham Hotspurs when he got into a fracas with the opponent’s assistant coach Joe Jordan. He choked the Spurs coach and then headbutted him. However, he was a serial winner so he does deserve respect. Some players who lose their minds actually gain fans because of it.
Currently, a free agent, the man known as the train is best known for hitting people – and we’re not talking about hits on the football field. The 32-year-old running back is a three-time Super Bowl winner, including two with the Patriots – which, for many, is a good enough reason not to like him.
Blount was infamously suspended for the entire season in 2009 after sucker-punching an opponent when playing the Oregon Ducks. It’s not the last time he’s done that either. In 2011 he was accused of being the ringleader of an assault on two Buccaneers fans. Most athletes lose their minds on the playing field but Blount wasn’t afraid to fight anybody.
Also known by his alter-ego Tony Plush, which he says is his gentleman’s name, Nyjer Morgan has been in many confrontations over the years. One of the most famous was when he took a swing at the Florida Marlins’ Chris Volstad after getting hit by a pitch. It came days after Morgan had clotheslined another player without the ball.
Morgan also once smashed a ball at a fan in a rage and landed a seven-game suspension. Baseball stars lose their minds all of the time, but they mostly fight each other. Morgan is a volatile personality, who decided that the best way to promote his new Twitter account was to post pictures of himself dressed as a cowboy. Oh, and he relinquished custody of his child to focus on his career.
Professional golfer John Daly’s trousers are a thing of infamy. They should also tell you a lot about his personality. He does not care and he wants you to know about it in brightly colored patterns. Daly has had a lot of problems with the bottle, most notably being found passed out drunk outside of a Hooters having wet himself.
Not only that, but he got into it with the cops who tried to bring him home. Daly must also have literally thrown away fortunes worth of clubs into the water at golf courses after things went wrong. He also got into a fight with his ex-wife in a restaurant, resulting in her coming at him with a steak knife.
Former NFL star Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones is the definition of a madman. It’s insane that he actually managed to continue with his career because police arrested him so many times. It just shows how talented the cornerback was because most other players would have been on the scrapheap. NFL players have a reputation for losing their minds, but Jones was a serial offender.
Jones’s most notorious incident was in a strip club back in 2009 when he decided to make it rain. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that you’re not allowed to take your money back after showering dancers with it. Long story short, a gun was fired and things got crazy very quickly. Jones has been involved in many incidents of punching women, fighting bouncers, and attacking airline staff. At least he’s consistent.
We all know about ‘Money.’ Arguably the greatest boxer of the 21st century, he retired with an undefeated record of 50-0. However, Mayweather has been involved in multiple scandals, including spending 90 days in prison for battering his girlfriend Josie Harris back in 2010. That’s not the only time he’s been involved in something like that either. But anybody with as much money as Mayweather loses their minds at some point.
Mayweather has a history of domestic violence, receiving suspended sentences back in 2002 and 2004. He underwent counseling for ‘impulse control.’ The boxer is the type of guy who responded to this by opening a Las Vegas strip club called ‘Girl Collection.’ He’s also gotten into several fights with bouncers.
There’s one massive reason behind Marinovic’s massive and shocking downfall: his father. Incredibly controlling, he turned Marinovic into a test tube athlete, banning sugar and refined white flour. From the age of just one-month-old, he was already stretching the baby’s hamstrings and trying to get him to do pushups. Both father and son lost their minds.
It’s probably no surprise that Marinovic had serious substance abuse issues during his time in the NFL. During his rookie season, he went wild with amphetamines and marijuana. He’d end up with the BC Lions of the CFL and then moved on to crack and heroin. Since all of that, he has recovered and is now working as an artist in Orange County, California.
On this list, we have some lovable maniacs, some tragic cases, and some just downright horrible people. Albert Haynesworth falls firmly in the latter category. One of the worst signings in NFL history by the Washington Redskins, three teams cut him from their rosters in less than two seasons.
A court also indicted Haynesworth for sexual assault. He’s been implicated for a lot of traffic offenses. Oh, and he stomped on Andre Gurode’s head, opening a massive wound. This required thirty stitches to heal. He also doesn’t believe that signing a $100 million contract means that he has to play if he doesn’t want to. In sum, too much money drives people out of their minds.
‘The Gypsy King’ is possibly the most talented heavyweight boxer on the planet right now. He’s also got one of the most charismatic and eccentric personalities. His interviews are magnetic and everything he says is quotable. After his iconic fight with Wladimir Klitschko, however, Fury went into a downward spiral.
He gained an extreme amount of weight, ballooning to over 330 pounds. His mental health deteriorated and he has described how he considered suicide. Fury used cocaine, drank to excess, and ate like a madman as the demons overcame him. His rebound back to normality and to the top of the boxing world is incredible. Fury knows how far you can fall.
What a crazy sport ice hockey is, and that’s why we love it. No other sport has the same combination of speed, dynamism, and carnage. In-game fights are almost a key part of the game at this point and we wouldn’t change a thing about that. In fact, most hockey players are out of their minds. But Steve MacIntyre brought that to a whole new level back in 2012.
The former Rangers star fought with literally everybody on the ice – including the goalkeeper – before the referee sent him off. MacIntyre has been involved in several hockey brawls throughout his career, but this really was next level. If he did that on a regular basis, he’d be in jail.
Former NBA star Arenas is the type of athlete who shoots his teammate with a BB gun during a firearms awareness meeting. He’s also the type of guy who wears size 13 shows on size 14 1/2 feet because he doesn’t want them to look too big. There’s something lovable about the former All-Star despite all of his wacky stories.
Arenas was most infamously involved in a scandal during his time with the Wizards when he stored a load of guns in his locker. Not only did this violate NBA laws, but he was also carrying a pistol without a license. Another story is that he ran about 60 red lights in the space of four months. However, he escaped detection because he kept the dealership plates in his car.
Manchester United’s legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson called Ravel Morrison one of the most naturally gifted players he’s ever seen. Morrison had has a nomadic career, playing in the UK, Italy, Sweden, and Mexico. But he never quite established himself where he could have been. Instead, he wasted his talents and became involved in ridiculous, unsavory incidents.
Morrison’s indiscipline has cost him. His attitude has caused several managers to just give up on him. Meanwhile, He’s been involved in a number of unsavory incidents and has been charged with battery and homophobic abuse. His coaches lost their minds trying to make him take the sport seriously. But unfortunately, life isn’t a videogame and he never fulfilled his promise.
Casey Affleck is trying to make a movie about Josh Hamilton’s life because it would be wholly entertaining. Coaches considered the future Texas Rangers star a blue-chip prospect until injuries and addiction problems slowed him down. He wasn’t able to play baseball for almost three years as he tried to recover from his personal struggles.
The five-time MLB All-Star met businessman Michael Chadwick, who played a massive part in getting Hamilton back on the straight and narrow. Hamilton has had a number of relapses including in 2012 and 2015 but appears to have been clean for the past four years due to his newfound commitment. Let’s hope he stays that way because his talent can never be doubted.
The former Denver Broncos and Omaha Nighthawks running back is one of the most inspirational figures on this list because he’s totally changed his life around. And you’ve got to give him credit for that. He took the long road to the NFL and many fans sensed that this was a complicated individual. That proved to be the case as he embarked on a chaotic journey.
He had a crazy five-year period after the Broncos cut him. Within the space of a year, he was arrested twice for aggravated robbery and weapons charges. Clarett was sentenced to three years in prison, but since walking free he’s cleaned up his act. He’s found religion and is a popular public speaker, speaking candidly about his personal struggles and successful recovery because of his new lease on life.
Jones is one of the most talented MMA fighters on the planet and arguably the greatest UFC champion of all-time. A four-time light-heavyweight champion, nobody has been able to beat him properly (he got disqualified once) – except for himself. Jones is his own worst enemy and has been involved in scandal after scandal because of his outside-the-cage exploits.
His most infamous incident was a hit-and-run car accident involving a pregnant woman. That’s definitely the lowest point of his life so far. ‘Bones’ has had more snow up his nose than an Alaskan Husky and has also been stripped of titles after traces of banned substances were found in his test samples. He just can’t stay out of trouble. Many UFC fighters have lost their minds, but Jones is a frequent offender.
When you compare Barton to his brother Michael, the former England soccer star seems like a nice guy. After all, Michael is serving life in prison for murder. However, when you compare Joey Barton to a regular human being, he suddenly doesn’t seem so nice.
He’s been involved in several brawls on the pitch. The police even arrested him for one training ground pitch assault. He once stubbed a cigarette out in the eye of a youth player. Barton has been involved in betting scandals and he’s tried to dodge police by leaving a stadium in the boot of a car. Who can forget the time he spoke English with a French accent in his first interview as a Marseille player?
One of the greatest boxers of the modern era, De La Hoya is also a bit of a wild man. Well, more than a bit, like those photos of him dressed in drag, having a good time with some women show you. This man just doesn’t care at all because he has so much wealth. Furthermore, he took a lot of drugs throughout his life. Substances often drive people out of their minds.
De La Hoya is notorious for having had a bit of a drug problem in the past. He’s admitted to having had serious addiction issues with cocaine – a direct inspiration for his cross-dressing experience. ‘Golden Boy’ has spent time in rehab. The worst situation was when a 15-year-old Mexican girl accused him of rape. Finally, he settled the case out of court.
Sprewell is best remembered as the player who choked his coach back in 1997 before threatening him with a gun. It all started so well for Sprewell, who had a massive contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, which came to an end in 2005. They offered him a new $21 million three-year deal… which he turned down. This drove the front office out of their minds because it was so moronic.
Sprewell called it insulting and insisted that he wouldn’t even be able to feed his family. So obviously today he is broke, losing his houses, yacht, and having a lot of domestic problems at home. It turns out that greed really doesn’t pay. It’s a pity because he was a great player.
Bradley was actually a very good baseball player before the madness kicked in. A combative, borderline crazy individual all throughout his MLB career, Bradley was finally cut for good in 2011. This lunatic decided that his new hobby would be trying to kill his wife.
A jury convicted him on nine counts of physically assaulting and threatening his wife, including four counts of spousal battery, two of criminal threats, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. The moral of the story is don’t send your wife a message saying: “This is the gun I’m going to kill you with.”
Imagine being regarded as the biggest NFL draft bust of all-time and that still wasn’t the worst thing about your reputation. Poor old Ryan Leaf has to deal with that because the dude has lived a crazy existence. Police arrested him countless times for various offenses, but he still doesn’t seem to learn. He is another example of drugs driving talented athletes out of their minds.
A former drug addict, Leaf stole prescription drugs and served time for multiple drug-related offenses. One pair of arrests came just four days apart in Montana where he spent several months in prison. Now he’s currently working for ESPN and is also working for Transcend Recovery Community. You’ve got to respect that because he’s trying to get his life together. Even if he messed up his pro career, he’s still fighting the good fight for young kids.
Madness might be permanent in the case of Jose Canseco. The former MLB slugger has taken more steroids than a racehorse over the past few years and that might explain some of the crazy incidents he’s been involved in. The number of ridiculous stories is just outrageous at this point.
Canseco is the type of guy who would pay his twin brother to take part in a celebrity boxing match instead of him. He went public with his concerns about climate change, mourning Al Gore… who wasn’t dead. He’s been involved in cases with firearms and even smuggling steroids across the border from Mexico. Oh, and he once shot his own finger off.
Everybody loves Balotelli even though he is a lunatic. The former Manchester City striker is legendary because of his ludicrous exploits. He once famously set his house on fire after letting off fireworks inside it. While in the UK, the police impounded his Maserati a ridiculous 27 times. The man just does not care and he’s living off that reputation. Some athletes lost their minds, but this is just Balotelli’s natural state.
Balotelli is the type of player who will crash his car into a women’s prison on purpose. Yes, you read that correctly. Coaches fined him for ‘pranking’ youth footballers by throwing darts at them. Oh, and he also fought with members of his own teams as well. The Italian made the phrase ‘Why Always Me?’ iconic after he scored a goal for City and revealed that slogan on a t-shirt. But perhaps he should look in the mirror.
McGregor has a reputation as one of the craziest athletes on the planet. Not many sportspeople lost their minds like the Irishman. He once flew an entire private jet full of friends to New York because his nemesis Khabib Nurmagamedov insulted his friend. Then, McGregor and his crew stormed Brooklyn’s Barclay Center and police arrested him. He has more arrests than wins since 2018.
McGregor has attacked referees, broken a fan’s phone outside a nightclub, spent nights in prison, and most recently punched an old man in a Dublin bar because of his aggressive attitude. ‘The Notorious’ is clearly doing his best to live up to his nickname. A former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, all fans want is to see him calm down and compete again.
One of the greatest footballers to ever walk the face of the earth, Maradona was also a wildman. He won the World Cup with Argentina in 1986 and scored the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal. This is a man who once fired an air rifle at reporters. Some athletes lost their minds, but Maradona took this to the next level. He was charismatic and chaotic in equal measure.
Maradona is a polarizing figure. The media documented his drug addiction for many years as he succumbed to cocaine abuse. A party animal, he’d put on weight very quickly because of his off-field issues. He loved partying right up until his death in 2021. At the World Cup in 2018, his entourage held him back so he didn’t fall off the stands. Maradona brought crazy to the next level.