Elite athletes appear to have the world at the feet but everyone has their demons. Many of them have experienced substance issues and criminal convictions at various points in their careers and/or lives. The arrests and consequences come in many forms, and usually, always make for a fascinating story. So today, we’re going to look at fans’ perspectives of some of the most high-profile sports criminal cases in recent history.
Some of these athletes committed heinous murders and brutal assaults. Then there are those who were embroiled in illegal actions but didn’t hurt anybody. All of these stories are different, especially when it’s considered what caused these superstars to behave in this way. Check out our list below via Reddit and New Arena.
30. Aldon Smith
Smith is an NFL defensive end who spent the majority of his career with the 49ers before plating for the likes of the Raiders and Cowboys. In 2021, the Seahawks signed him as a free agent, but it instantly seemed a bad idea because Smith is a notorious criminal. He has numerous convictions and surrendered to Louisiana police after allegedly committing battery in a coffee shop.
“This guy has let millions of dollars slip through his fingers because of alcohol and his inability to control himself. This was probably his last chance with the NFL. Hope he gets some serious long-term help,”@Sageness13 tweeted. Smith is his own worst enemy because he can’t stay out of trouble. Many people don’t understand why these millionaires don’t behave properly, but Smith has few if any answers.
There aren’t many DUI incidents on this list because they occur so often. But in the case of Woods it seems appropriate to include him on this list. The legendary golfer endured some difficult years after admitting that he was a sex addict and had problems with substances. This DUI occurred in Florida in 2017 as Woods had numerous over-the-counter drugs in his system.
“I have empathy for his post-injury addiction issues, but he really should not be driving anymore if DUI is the cause again,”@artgeekTrish tweeted. But in 2019, he found redemption when he won the Masters. This delighted his fans who watched him languish for 11 years in the wilderness. After overcoming personal issues and a criminal conviction, Woods was back where he belonged. It was short-lived though. The controversial superstar was involved in another crash where he received injuries that have him on the sidelines again.
UFC middleweight Till is one of the most popular fighters on the roster because of his larger-than-life persona. The witty striker hails from Liverpool, England, and is highly active online. But he’s also no stranger to criminal behavior. After he almost died from a stabbing, he moved to Brazil to train. However, he still goes off the rails at times as one incident in 2019 demonstrated.
Till was on vacation on the Spanish island of Ibiza with his friends but things escalated. After a few drinks they decided to trash a hotel room. Then they stole a taxi and made their escape. It was obvious criminal behavior but it was also entertaining in the eyes of many fans. @CopelanderPO6 tweeted: “It’s almost as if guys who are insane enough to fight for a living are insane outside of the cage as well.”
Many fans regard Brown as one of the worst draft busts in NBA history. The Washington Wizards made him the first overall pick in 2001 as Brown entered the league directly from high school. His relationship with Michael Jordan is the stuff of infamy. After a 12-season, nomadic career, he finally retired from the sport and nobody heard much about him from that point on.
However, in 2019, the news broke that police in Georgia arrested Brown because he was in possession of various marijuana edibles. Needless to say, many fans didn’t appreciate this criminal conviction because it was totally legal in other parts of the U.S. “Let’s get this scum off the streets. The audacity to have pot cookies and other weed stuff. What a disgrace, I feel safer already,” kingofgamesbrah sarcastically observed.
In 2020, a judge threw former four-weight boxing champion Broner in jail on contempt of court charges. Broner has a criminal past including multiple sexual assault and battery charges. When news broke of his arrest, @quig87 reacted in disgust. He wrote: “Which arrest? Dudes gotta have double digits at this point. Who gives a s**t?” In sum, he isn’t wrong because he’s a serial offender.
“I’m rich. I don’t give a s**t,” Broner told TMZ after one arrest. Meanwhile, the boxer also wasted a lot of money in poor business ventures and frivolous spending. This meant that he was unable to pay one significant settlement and forced the judge to place him in custody. It’s such a waste of a career because Broner had so much talent. Even Despite him being a four-weight champion, he still underachieved.
Brown is an NBA star who plays for the Houston Rockets. Meanwhile, he makes this list after one of the most bizarre arrests in 2018. He was outside a Walgreens store in Milwaukee when police encountered him. They noted that he had parked his car across two spaces and confronted him. The officer pointed out that the parking lot was entirely empty and asked why Brown took two spaces. The officer then called for backup.
The officers ordered Brown to take his hands out of his pockets. When he was slow to do so, they tackled him to the ground and tased him. In the end, he received no criminal conviction and the police suffered disciplinary action for their excessive behavior. @Craigd23 tweeted, “More evidence of outrageous behavior by the police. Being harassed after taking two spots in an empty parking lot??”
Mexican mixed martial artist Rivera is a UFC champion as well as a former TITAN FC champion. The bantamweight fighter made headlines in 2021 after he stabbed both of his sisters during a mental breakdown. Fortunately, the women survived the attempted murder and police took Rivera into custody. Meanwhile, they continued to support him. As a result, he went into a mental facility instead of jail.
@DrFreezePop tweeted: “This sounds awful. Either he was on some sort of strong narcotic or something went wrong in his brain. This isn’t normal at all. I hope his sisters are OK and he gets the help he needs.” There are numerous incidents where fighters suffer personality change as a result of extreme trauma to their brains. Only time will tell if this was the case for Rivera.
One of the greatest soccer players in the history of the game, Ronaldinho is a Brazilian icon. He’s also one of the most distinctive and recognizable figures in the sport because of his hair and toothy smile. However, for some reason, he tried to sneak into Paraguay with his brother with fake passports. They received jail time for the criminal behavior before spending time under house arrest.
“Remember when Ronaldinho was playing prison football tournaments in Paraguay for a suckling pig? Those were great times,”@DanEdwardsGoal tweeted. The Brazilian superstar definitely didn’t experience the worst treatment. As well as his soccer tournament he also partied with supermodels and South American celebrities in the hotel he spent his house arrest in.
It looked like Vazquez had everything he could ever want. The Dominican pitcher had an All-Star year in 2019, but it all went downhill very quickly. Police arrested him on child sexual abuse charges after he admitted that he attempted to abuse a minor and also sent nude pictures to her. Furthermore, they connected him to a number of other underage girls in news that rocked MLB.
“Anyone saying “why would a professional athlete do this?” is off the mark here,”@CerraAJ tweeted. “Why would ANYONE do this? That’s a child. Like, young child. Obvious legalities aside, that is just awful. People trying to steal and ruin a whole life at such an early age. Disgusting.” This is a very true statement because many people put celebrities on a pedestal but the truth is that nobody should behave in such a heinous criminal manner.
“Honestly, the MMA community is not even that surprised anymore,” @sadesque_rahman tweeted after Jones’ latest encounter with law enforcement in 2019. Albuquerque police arrested the former UFC light-heavyweight champion again on a DUI as well as a charge of negligent use of a firearm. Jones has had numerous arrests including DUIs and an alleged assault of a strip club waitress.
“Death, taxes, and Jones averaging one arrest per two – three fights,”@blueberrypanc17 observed. His worst moment came when he was involved in a hit-and-run that injured a pregnant woman but Jones didn’t learn from this awful experience. New Mexico police roll their eyes when they hear of his criminal behavior because he has everything but can’t keep himself out of trouble.
Former Inter Milan midfielder Guarin is one of Colombia’s most popular soccer players. He also played for the likes of St. Etienne and F.C Porto in Europe. In late 2020, he returned to his home country to play in Bogota. However, he succumbed to substance abuse during his time in the Colombian capital and a horrible incident occurred. Police arrested him after he brutally assaulted his own father.
“Freddie get your life under control an (sic) wish you and your family the best in these sad times,”Lord Figo wrote in support of the Colombian star. Video footage showed Guarin covered in blood as he angrily told onlookers not to film the incident. Later, the police confirmed that he was under the influence of narcotics. Further criminal charges included the assault of a public official.
Technically this wasn’t an arrest, but it is a strange, entertaining story. Donald is the most feared and dominant defensive tackle in the NFL. In April 2021, a man accused Donald of assaulting outside a Pittsburgh bar. However, Donald fervently denied this and video footage supported his claim that he actually intervened to break up the fight.
First of all, the so-called victim saw dollar signs and saw Donald’s presence as a way to a quick buck. @BrettKollman tweeted: “Let me get this straight. You see that Aaron Donald, one of the strongest, fastest human beings in the world – who spends his Sundays beating 300 pound men to a pulp with his bare hands – is in the room with you….and your plan is to fight this person?” In the end, Donald received no criminal charges.
“Cops should just go ahead and arrestJRSmith right now in preparation,”@MikeYMah wryly tweeted. To be fair, he isn’t wrong because Smith has a lengthy criminal record. In 2021 the former Cleveland Cavaliers and L.A Lakers star held one of the most unwanted records in NBA history. He had more arrests than any other active player in the league after numerous incidents.
One time, he beat up a man for damaging his car. Furthermore, he served almost 30 days in jail on a charge of reckless driving. Most of Smith’s convictions came in relation to driving offenses but he shows no signs of learning any lessons. However, Smith is a two-time NBA champion so he is doing something right. The question is if he’ll enjoy his rings from the comfort of a precinct cell.
No stranger to criminal behavior, McGregor sank to a new low in 2019 when he socked an old man in a bar. Why did he assault his fellow patron? It was for the most foolish reason as the man rejected a free shot of McGregor’s Proper Twelve brand of whiskey. The older man turned it down and received a punch to the face in thanks. Needless to say, McGregor experienced the disgust of the world because it was such a cheap thing to do.
“I would rather get sucker-punched in the face by Conor McGregor than take a shot of his cheap but overpriced whiskey. The old man made the right decision, and Conor McGregor should be in prison,”@JimnBL tweeted. Instead, the Irishman received a heavy fine and made a groveling apology on ESPN. But it was obviously a horrible moment for the MMA community and disappointing from McGregor.
In 2021, police stopped a vehicle carrying Lattimore and his friends after they detected a strong scent of marijuana from it. Meanwhile, they were aware of the possibility of weapons in the car. One of the league’s best defensive players, Lattimore let the Saints down with this criminal behavior.
“I hope he realizes how quickly his career and millions will go if he doesn’t change the company he keeps. You don’t want to forget the people who helped you get to the NFL but if they don’t stop you from doing this kind of stupid sh*t they are not good friends,”@OLLiEvol observed. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for many people to break from those who hold them back from reaching their full potential.
Davis is a two-weight boxing champion and one of the most popular fighters in the sport. But there’s no doubt that he inspire varied opinions because of the manner of how he treats women. His public contempt for them is visible and he attracted a lot of negative attention after violently grabbing her near the throat. Needless to say, many people thought that this was a despicable way to act.
“This is the same dude that couldn’t knock out a guy that tore his Achilles’ tendon in the second round. Real tough guy choking his girl like that,”@RemigioCordero1 tweeted. Furthermore, Davis has a criminal record after multiple assaults and fights in public. The Baltimore native rose to prominence as Floyd Mayweather’s protege but he is similar to the legendary champion in more ways than one.
McGregor already made this list because he punched an older man in a bar. But this isn’t his only moment of criminal lunacy. The time he invaded the Barclay Center with a gang of cronies and destroyed a bus is well-documented. But he can’t avoid foolish criminal moments. One night in Florida he destroyed a fan’s phone after becoming impatient with him.
“He pulls me in with his hand and with his right hand, slaps my hand with the phone. Like proper power. Full power. Slap my wrist. The phone falls to the floor. His security push me out. He starts stamping on my phone, picks my phone up off the floor, puts it in his pocket, does the McGregor walk, gets in his chauffeur car and says ‘F*** you’ and goes away,”Ahmed Abdirzak claimed. In the end, he dropped charges after McGregor settled out of court.
Maguire is the captain of Manchester United and England. One of the Premier League’s most high-profile defenders, he found himself in need of legal defense after an incident in Greece. Greek police arrested him on multiple criminal charges including assault on an officer and attempted bribery. In the end, they released him on bail and he returned to England. However, he claimed that they were corrupt and lied about the incident.
“It’s funny they arrested him for bribery and then said, wait, you are rich, just give us a ton of money and you won’t have to go to jail,”@MFWilse tweeted. Meanwhile, the Red Devils were in poor form at the time and many fans hoped that the police would put Maguire in jail to keep him off of the field. In his next game, he received a red card after a stupid incident and it was clear that his head was not in the right place.
A former defensive end for the Carolina Panthers and the Dallas Cowboys, Hardy now competes in the UFC heavyweight division. However, he’s a very controversial character because of a criminal conviction after a court convicted him for battering his girlfriend. Hardy appealed his conviction and the alleged victim failed to show up to testify, resulting in the judge throwing the case out of court. After this, Hardy became a pariah.
MillardFillmore revealed his perspective on Reddit. He wrote: “If martial arts helps him get his aggression out against men of his size rather than a small woman then I’m all for him getting a shot. He’s instantly a top 5 athlete to ever go into MMA. That said, I hope he gets his f***ing head smashed in.” Many MMA fans share the same perspective and also look forward to the day the promotion cuts him.
Rudolph entered the NFL Draft in 2017 as one of the best college receivers in the nation but still went undrafted. Most people expected him to enjoy a stellar career but the reality is that he didn’t meet his potential with the New York Giants. After two seasons his NFL career ended. Then, in 2021, police arrested him after he unloaded a firearm on a vehicle carrying four passengers.
“I remember the feel-good story of how he sat with a lonely autistic kid at lunch when he was at FSU. Kind of a hard detour from that,”CenturionElite wrote on Reddit about the tragic incident. Rudolph received multiple criminal charges including one count of first-degree murder after one of the victims died. It’s the type of tragedy that is unfathomable in the eyes of most people.
One of the greatest NBA stars ever, Bryant’s name is destined to go down in folklore following his tragic death in 2020. However, the Black Mamba wasn’t a squeaky-clean individual because he faced a major criminal investigation as a younger man. In 2003, the Eagle Sherrif’s office in Colorado arrested him on charges related to the alleged rape of a woman.
After a messy public outcry, Bryant admitted that he had sexual relations with the woman but denied assault charges. In the end, he settled out of court in a civil suit. “I am amazed at the PR work Kobe and his team did to make that situation a complete afterthought for the public,” TimRigginsPanther observed. This is a fair point because it’s impossible to imagine the same thing happening today.
It’s common to tell a taxi driver to keep the change following a ride. However, Kane didn’t get the memo and became upset when a driver failed to return the change to him on a night out in Chicago. Despite being a multimillionaire NHL star with the Chicago Blackhawks, he reacted furiously and assaulted the driver.
caprincrash couldn’t believe how cheap the NHL star was. He wrote on Reddit: “What the f**k? They were upset over $1.20, wow they must be very different drunks than me, I stop caring about money altogether when I’m drunk. Hell I gave the girl at pita pit $20 once just cause she gave me my pita.” However, Kane was clearly all about the principle of the situation rather than the money.
Perry is the most Florida man on the planet. ‘Platinum’ maintains a level of popularity because of his outrageous personality and brawling style of fighting. But in 2019 and 2020 his behavior began to deteriorate. His ex-girlfriend accused him of physical abuse. However, this wasn’t the end of the drama. While on vacation in Texas, he became embroiled in a verbal disagreement with an older gentleman in a restaurant.
In the end, he punched the man unconscious, disgraceful behavior. He was an older man and second, Perry was a trained professional. To sum up, this criminal behavior attracted a lot of fury online and in the media. @mason458 tweeted, “That guy needs cutting from the UFC. He’s never gonna be a title challenger. He needs to be committed to a psych ward and get help.”
“The real question was this one for shooting up a strip club again? Or is this a boring one?”chandelizards after news broke of yet another ‘Pacman’ arrest. The former Cincinnati Bengals star has more criminal convictions than most of the rest of the league put together. He simply can’t avoid trouble, but some incidents are definitely worse than others. These include assaults, strip-club shooting allegations, and DUIs.
“Fact remains; if there’s anyone that knows how to party on a Wednesday, it’s Pacman Jones,”justthetip3 joked. These arrests just keep coming. In 2021, law enforcement arrested him on a charge of assault after an incident in Ohio. Of course, nothing will be more dramatic than the time he slammed a stripper’s head into the stage after making it rain with one-dollar bills.
“It is funny how in six days he accustomed himself to jail, bribing out prisoners with murder charges and having a room with six pillows and a lot of sheets. Mayweather is extraordinarily resilient but also an odd individual,”JohKhur noted after the legendary boxer’s time in jail in 2011. He spent 60 days in a cell after he battered his ex-girlfriend and received a criminal conviction.
“You know how women are sometimes,” Mayweather told assembled media before his fight with Manny Pacquaio in 2015. Furthermore, Mayweather’s opinion of women received fresh scrutiny when he opened a strip club in Las Vegas called Girl Collection. There is no doubt that many fans dislike the boxer because of his treatment of women and those closest to him.
War Machine started life as Jonathan Koppenhaver before he legally changed his name to the former. The MMA fighter fought for promotions that included the UFC and Bellator. In the end, he became notorious after almost murdering his former girlfriend Christy Mack. As well as battering and slicing her with a knife, he also raped her. A court sentenced him to life in prison for the heinous act.
“Seriously, looking at photos of her after this happened is absolutely heartbreaking,”perfumebunny007 wrote. “How somebody could ever harm their significant other like this is astounding. It sounds like she’s on a better life path now though. The emotional scarring has got to still be horrific though.” As one of the most well-known porn stars on the planet, Mack’s suffering attracted a lot of media attention.
Johnson burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced winger. His exciting and dynamic performances convinced Manchester City to sign him before finally moving back to his hometown Premier League club, Sunderland. The England international stunned the soccer world after a criminal conviction in 2015. Police arrested him after he groomed a 15-year-old girl and he duly went to prison.
Finally, in 2019, he left prison after serving half of his sentence. @PaulChocky never expected to hear about him again because of his dark past. “Players have come back from robbery, drink driving, tax evasion and even assault to play professional football (soccer) again,” he tweeted. “But this was sexual assault of a minor, there’s no coming back from that. This guy will never kick a ball in anger again!”
Vick singlehandedly changed the quarterback position during his time with the Atlanta Falcons. However, he never became the transcendent superstar that he could have been. This was because of his outrageous criminal behavior behind the scenes. It emerged that Vick was the ringleader of a dog-fighting ring. He did time for this atrocious action and lost many of his former fans. Of course, Vick returned to the NFL after his release but it was a dark period.
nohipstersallowed noted: “If Vick wasn’t arrested and convicted I think it’s pretty safe to say he would still be torturing dogs. I’m not saying people shouldn’t root for him, but I also don’t think people out there realize that prison isn’t often the cure for sociopaths. He certainly has seemed to turn his life around and deserves credit for that, but I would never cheer for someone who has derived pleasure from torturing another living creature.”
Tiger Wood, Lance Armstrong, and now Oscar Pistorius, Nike should really just tell the athletes and change the motto to “Don’t do it,”10steps noted after the latter’s arrest in 2013. Before this, Pistorious was a rare package. He transcended the achievements of most Paralympic athletes after he medalled in ablebodied track racing. But it all came crashing down when he murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
This was one of the most high-profile murder trials of the decade. The South African court initially rejected the murder conviction and Pistorious was even out on house arrest at one point. However, a retrial found him guilty of murder and he went to prison for 13 years. It was a dramatic and traumatic sequence of events but one that will never be forgotten because of Pistorious’s fame.
There was a time when Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were the top tight end duo in the NFL. Sadly, Hernandez has one of the darkest criminal convictions on this list after he murdered Odin Lloyd. Furthermore, investigations link him to several other homicides. In the end, Hernandez, a closet bisexual and abuse sufferer, killed himself in prison.
“There’s actually a lot that’s come out about his childhood and some repressed issues he had. I’m not excusing what he did but he had a really f***ed up life. And there’s no “may have had CTE” about it, he had one of the more advanced cases they had ever seen,”@drew_bare observed. Of course, this doesn’t take away the tragedy that occured nor the suffering of the victims. But it shows the need for an investigation into CTE in contact sports.