Hero To Zero: Athletes Who Ruined Their Stardom With Partying

Darren - April 4, 2023

Hero To Zero: Athletes Who Ruined Their Stardom With Partying

Darren - April 4, 2023

Sports Illustrated

Darryl Strawberry

Strawberry’s achievements are crazy because his career collapsed when he was in his prime. The cocaine addict took more drugs than a racehorse and hardly lived to tell the tale. He abused alcohol and binged on drugs with dramatic consequences. The World Series winner solicited undercover policewomen and created trouble for himself.

Sports Illustrated

Somehow he won three rings with the Mets and the Yankees while maintaining a high output. But the eight-time All-Star received suspensions and infuriated his teammates before colon cancer cut his career short. Strawberry is in the Mets Hall of Fame but his antics mean he won’t make it into Cooperstown (via WAPT).


Andy Ruiz

Ruiz stunned the world in 2019 when he became the first Mexican heavyweight champion ever. Anthony Joshua chose him as a last-minute replacement after Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller failed a drug test. The pair fought in Madison Square Garden where Ruiz shocked everybody with his incredible knockout win (via The Sun).


This ranked up there with Buster Douglas’s KO of Mike Tyson as one of the biggest shocks in boxing history. Joshua activated his rematch clause and Ruiz didn’t take the rematch seriously. His lack of discipline cost him dearly before the second fight. Joshua outpointed him to recapture his titles as Ruiz blew the biggest opportunity of his life.

CBS Sports

Henry Ruggs III

The Raiders treaded water as one of the NFL’s mediocre franchises for a couple of decades. Then Ruggs burst out as one of their most exciting weapons, combining with passer Derek Carr to provide optimism. But this fell flat after he killed a woman in a drunken car crash after he drove an unreal 156 mph.

CBS Sports

Police arrested him after he lost control of his Corvette Stingray and smashed into the other vehicle. Tina Tintor and her dog died in the ensuing blaze and Ruggs faced years in jail. The loss of life was the biggest tragedy but it’s also a massive waste of potential. Sadly his partying destroyed his future and ruined many lives (via CBS Sports).

Bleacher Report

Dennis Rodman

It’s probably more accurate to say that Rodman’s partying destroyed his post-career than his actual career. He was one of the best defenders and rebounders ever when he starred for the Pistons and the Bulls. But he always enjoyed letting his hair down as star teammate Michael Jordan would attest. Rodman once went partying in Las Vegas with Carmen Electra. It took Jordan’s intervention to drag him back to action.


After Rodman retired from the NBA, he continued to be a wild party animal. However, his behavior became increasingly erratic and he made strange decisions. These days, young NBA fans know him as the weirdo who hangs out with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Unfortunately, they don’t know how good he was during his heyday (via TalkSport).

NBC 29

Mike Tyson

Tyson is probably the scariest boxer of all time because of his terrifying aura and devastating KO power. But the American superstar also had a lot of problems outside of the ring. He admitted he had a serious cocaine problem and even fought some matches while high. Tyson said that he used a prosthetic penis – the ‘Whizzer’ – to pass tests.


This also affected his relationships in real life because he became increasingly dysfunctional. He notoriously spent time in jail after a rape conviction. Many crazy incidents saw him lose the respect and love of fans. However, Tyson rebounded throughout the 2000s and now people don’t mention his dark past much (via Sportscasting).

Golf Channel

Tiger Woods

Woods became the face of golf after a rapid rise that saw him emerge as one of the greatest of all time. He enjoyed incredible success on the PGA Tour and attracted massive endorsements. Nike, Gillette, and EA Sports made deals with the legendary player. But it all came crashing down because of his wild drug use and sex addiction.

Golf Digest

In 2010, a drunken Woods crashed his vehicle outside his Florida home. Then many women emerged and claimed that they had intimate relations with the superstar. These included porn actresses and strippers and it became a massive scandal. In the end, Woods’ wife left him and he went to rehab for sex addiction (via The Guardian).

The Guardian


It’s not entirely true to say that Ronaldo’s partying destroyed his career. However, they didn’t help and he fell further into indiscipline as his body began to let him down. The Brazilian was the most exciting soccer player on the planet and helped his country to World Cup glory. But his injury record became ridiculous and he failed to recapture his greatness.

Times of India

Ronaldo gained weight and developed a reputation for partying hard. This wasn’t ideal for his recovery and gradually, his coaches lost patience with him. Finally, the public began referring to him as ‘Fat Ronaldo’ to separate him from the Portuguese superstar, Cristiano. He achieved a lot but could have done so much more (via TalkSport).

Bleacher Report

Vince Young

There was a time when people thought Young was going to be an NFL Hall of Famer. The Titans selected him after a storied college career with the Texas Longhorns. Things started well for the quarterback as he broke the rookie yards records. He also made the Pro Bowl but it all went downhill from there.

Bleacher Report

Injuries affected his influence in his sophomore year and his time as an NFL starter came to an end. Yes, his body let him down but his partying didn’t help. Young spent outrageous sums of money on strippers for his parties and didn’t take his recovery seriously. He’s one of the NFL’s biggest what-ifs because he had so much talent and potential (via Bleacher Report).

Pro Football History

Isaiah Wilson

Everybody thought that it was a no-brainer when the Titans made Wilson a first-round pick in 2020. The offensive tackle was a fabulous player for the Georgia Bulldogs, one of the best college teams. However, NCAA success doesn’t always translate to the NFL as the Titans discovered their cost (via Sports Illustrated).


Wilson’s indiscipline meant that he had more arrests than games during his only season in the league. He partied hard, violated health regulations, and had a high-speed car chase. Finally, the Titans gave up and traded him to Miami. But he lasted for two weeks with the Dolphins before they released him. Now he’s trying to make a career as a rapper.

Fox News

Conor McGregor

It may feel dumb to say that McGregor destroyed his career. He’s one of the world’s wealthiest athletes in the world and won two titles with the UFC. Meanwhile, he earned a fortune through his whiskey business and other outlets. But his partying cost him dearly over the years. This is true in terms of his bank balance and his legacy.


The Irishman has had more nights in jail than fights over the past few years. He infamously creates havoc wherever he goes and has a few drinks or sniffs cocaine. McGregor destroys phones, hits old men, and allegedly has intimate relations with random women along the way (via The Mirror).



Ronaldinho is the epitome of an athlete who had fantastic talent but partied too much. Perhaps it’s too strong to say he ruined his career because he has a World Cup winner’s medal. Meanwhile, he won a bunch of other trophies with Barcelona and PSG. But it’s safe to say his career declined because of his party antics (via The 18).


The Brazilian’s love for a good time is the stuff of legend. Perhaps the most dramatic saw him serve time in a Paraguayan jail because he entered the country on a false passport. But Ronaldinho had an incredible time behind bars because it wasn’t a proper punishment. The jailers brought him women and invited celebrity guests to drink with him at wild parties.