Professional Athletes Look Like They Have it All… But Sometimes Humans Are Self-Destructive and Make the Worst Decisions… Check Out the 30 Craziest Criminals in Sports History….
So many young boys and girls dream of becoming a professional athlete. When somebody does make it to the very top, it’s natural to assume that their lives are perfect. Money, fame and success… who in their right mind would want to screw that up by doing something that is obviously depraved or crazy?
Well, for some athletes it really is too good to be true. Today we’re going to look at the 30 craziest criminals in sports history. Some of them have committed truly horrendous crimes like rape and murder. Others are crazy because they’ve thrown away incredible success by doing something very stupid.
Interestingly, the majority of sportspeople on this list are American footballers. There are a few boxers, a couple of soccer players, baseballers and more. Some of the details are truly disturbing so if that’s not your thing you’re in the wrong place. Enjoy!
30. Floyd Mayweather
He might be the richest boxer ever, but Floyd Mayweather has a dark past. Arguably the greatest defensive stylist of all time, he has spent time in and out of prison for various offences. While his convictions are nowhere near as bad as some of the psychos on this list, he’s still earned a place because he’s so high-profile.
In the early 2000s, he was arrested multiple times for misdemeanour battery against various women. He was also convicted after assaulting a bouncer. He’d serve 90 days in jail in 2012 for battery and this was used against him by Conor McGregor when the two men fought in 2017. You can’t escape the label of being a woman-beater.
The next dubious sportsman on this list is one of MMA’s most notorious fighters, Alexander Emelianenko. The younger brother of the renowned heavyweight champion Fedor, ‘The Grim Reaper’ has fought for the likes of PRIDE and Akhmat Fight Club. He’s also become incredibly controversial for some pretty awful crimes.
The worst was when he raped and wrongfully imprisoned his housekeeper, stealing her passport in 2015. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison but insanely served less than one. Emelianenko has been arrested multiple times over the past year for hit-and-runs and drinking offences. He’s also been accused of radical views.
When you have a childhood like Mike Tyson’s, it’s pretty much a sure thing that bad things are going to happen at some point. The former unified heavyweight champion of the world is a pop culture icon now, but it’s insane considering that he’s a convicted rapist.
He was convicted of the rape of Desiree Washington in 1992 and sentenced to six years in prison. The boxer served less than four years of his sentence. Tyson has also been arrested multiple times for drug possession and driving under the influence. He’s definitely one of the most famous names on this list.
You’d think you’d be happy if you made it as far as the NFL, but that wasn’t enough for Darryl Henley. A former cornerback with the Los Angeles Rams, he went from being a well-paid athlete to being a long-serving guest of the federal justice system.
He was smacked with a 41-year prison sentence for trafficking cocaine and even worse, trying to assassinate a judge and a cheerleader who had testified against him. Don’t conspire to kill a federal judge. It just won’t end well for you at all.
Ok, we’re definitely not saying Tonya Harding’s crimes are worse than the ones that came above. In terms of sheer horror, of course, they’re not, but their social impact was massive at the time and bred a Hollywood movie. Harding is a former Olympic figure skater and US national champion.
Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly infamously hired an assailant to attack his ex-wife’s rival Nancy Kerrigan, breaking her leg. It was never proven that Harding herself was involved but she was convicted of conspiracy to prevent prosecution. This case sent waves around the world.
We’re including Michael Vick on this list because the crime he was involved with is just so unique. A former NFL quarterback, he spent 13 seasons there playing mostly for the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. He was basically accredited with changing the quarterback position thanks to his rushing abilities.
So he was an awesome player, but also a bit of a trashy human being. His surging career was put on hold after he was arrested for taking part in a dogfighting ring. Because he was very high-profile he gained a lot of notoriety amongst the general public. After serving 21 months in prison, he was released and returned to the NFL.
Lawrence Taylor is on this list because his story is actually such an upsetting one. Widely regarded as one of the greatest African-American NFL players ever, Taylor has also been called the best defensive player in league history by various media outlets.
Sadly, he would tarnish his reputation in 2011 when he was charged with sexual offences involving a minor. He pleaded guilty to sexual offences with a 16-year-old girl after he paid the girl $300 to sleep with him at a Holiday Inn in New York. Obviously, it’s terrible what happened to the girl but it’s also sad that a man who was an inspiration to so many went down a dark path like this.
When you change your name to War Machine, the warning signs are surely there that you’ve got a little bit of a problem. Former UFC and Bellator veteran Jonathan Paul Koppenhaver was convicted in 2017 on 29 felony counts during the assault of his then-girlfriend Christy Mack.
War Machine almost killed the porn actress during a brutal attack which culminated with Mack suffering 18 broken bones, a fractured rib, a ruptured liver and a broken nose. He also tried to rape her during the savage onslaught. The former fighter is now serving life in prison with the possibility of parole after 36 years.
A former NFL running back, Dave Meggett played for teams like the New York Giants, the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. You’d think life as a rich and successful athlete would be good enough for him, but nope, Meggett typically made some decisions that would destroy his life.
Meggett – the father of 9 children – has been arrested multiple times for sexual assault and violence towards women. The first serious case was after beating a hooker during a threesome. The Jets opted against resigning him and he went into a downward spiral, with his $10 million going towards child support. Finally, in 2009, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for raping a college student.
A successful running back in the NFL and CFL, Philips first came to prominence when he was a two-time national college football champion with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He’d go on to play for the Miami Dolphins and San Franciso 49ers. So far so good, but he definitely wasn’t a nice person.
In the early 2000s, he was convicted multiple times for battery and domestic violence, eventually running up a sentence of 31 years in prison. That’s not all though. He’d also be found guilty of the murder of his cellmate Damion Soward. Philips would commit suicide in his cell as the death penalty was being considered. A crazy story.
Mel Hall was one of those players who was just good enough to carve out a career at the highest level, without being outstanding. He was a bit of a journeyman, playing for the likes of the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants. He also played in Japan from 1993-95.
In 1999 he was arrested for raping a 12-year-old girl on the youth basketball team that he was coaching, making him one of the most disgusting people on this list. He was also infatuated with a 15-year-old girl while he was a pro player. While he was playing MLB, she was getting ready for her prom and SATs. Now, this mad man is serving 45 years in prison.
Venezuelan relief pitcher Ugeth Urbina was a genuinely talented player. A two-time All-Star and a World Series winner, he was truly playing at baseball’s highest level. Unfortunately, despite being immaculate on matchday, his behaviour in the real world was not so good.
In 2004, he was arrested for his part in a crazy incident in Caracas, Venezuela. He tried to set multiple men on fire and attacked others with a machete. Exactly what you want to do when you’re one of the most successful sports stars in the world. He was handed a 14-year prison sentence but released in 2012 after serving 7.
In 2014, Darren Sharper was arrested on two counts of sexual assault. It was shocking at the time as during his playing career he was one of the NFL’s best safeties. He played for the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings. He’s all got the joint-record for most defensive touchdowns of all time.
This is where it gets seriously dark. After his playing career ended, allegations started to come out about Sharper’s disturbing activities. It was discovered he had been crossing multiple states where he was drugging and raping women. Now he’s serving a 20-year prison sentence. A depraved individual.
Another American footballer – what is it about these guys? – Keith Wright was a solid defensive tackle who had a bit of a journeyman’s career, never establishing himself with any of the teams he played for. He definitely made an impression with the federal justice system though after sexually assaulting a woman and forcing her to take money out of three ATMs.
In October 2012, Wright was found guilty on 19 charges including armed robbery, kidnapping, forced oral copulation, first-degree burglary, and false imprisonment. For all these crazy crimes, he was sentenced to 234 years and 8 months in prison.
Gavin Grant was a very average English soccer player who carved out a career playing in the lower leagues of the EFL. It’s his life off the football pitch though that makes for interesting – and disturbing – reading. Grant is currently serving a minimum 25-year prison sentence for murder.
He was first arrested in 2005 after being accused of murdering Jahmall Moore. However, he was cleared of this and continued his playing career. You’d think that would be it, but no, he was then charged and convicted in 2010 of shooting Leon Labastide.
One of the craziest stories on this list is that of Marvin Harrison. Netflix should really make a series about this guy. He looked like a quiet leader during his 12 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, but he was also allegedly running a Philadelphia criminal enterprise during and after his NFL career.
Harrison has escaped prison sentences because he’s very rich and has an excellent legal team. He was arrested after a gun that was registered to him was used to kill a drug dealer called Dwight Dixon. Nothing was proven. Harrison himself narrowly escaped a shooting in 2014.
English footballer Adam Johnson stunned fans around the world when he was arrested for his relationship with a teenage girl. Johnson is a former England international soccer player. He’s played for Premier League Clubs like Middlesbrough, Manchester City and, up until his arrest, Sunderland.
Basically, he was convicted of grooming the teenager and sexual activity with a minor. It shocked the football world because these men are superstars who regularly have relationships with the most beautiful models and pop stars, yet Johnson destroyed his career for an underage girl.
One of the oldest cases on this list, Otari Kvanthishalli hailed from Georgia in Eastern Europe. Before he was convicted of rape, he was on his way to becoming one of the best wrestlers in the entire world. He founded the Dynamo Sports Club that was basically a front for money laundering and racketeering.
This mad man was basically the public face of the Russian mafia for a number of years. He was also a mediator for different mobsters and gangs in the country. Crazily, he would be shot dead by a sniper, while leaving a bathhouse in 1993.
He played for the New England Patriots, so already the world hated him. However, Alexander Hernandez really did have a twisted life. He had a history of violent crimes. First of all, in 2007, he punched a bar employee after being asked to leave because he was underage. He was just 17.
Later in the year, three men were shot outside a Gainseville nightclub. While the description fitted him, it remains unproven that it was Hernandez. Skipping onto 2012, two men were shot and Hernandez was convicted. He also killed Odin Lloyd and was convicted of his murder in 2015. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
A former linebacker in the 80s and 90s for teams like the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, Naposki also played for the Barcelona Dragons. He was involved in a love triangle that turned nasty with Nanette Johnson and a businessman named Bill McLaughlin.
McLaughlin was killed in 1994 and Naposki was found guilty of first-degree murder. It’s believed that he wanted to collect the life insurance policy that his victim left behind. Like something from a movie, Nanette Johnson was also found guilty. It’s believed that she manipulated Naposki into pulling off the killing. He’s serving life without parole.
Former skateboarder Mark Rogowski was like the Tony Hawk of his day, even appearing in the video for the Tom Petty song ‘Free Fallin’ in the 180s. Things went downhill for him when his main sponsor went bankrupt and he converted to a strict Evangelical Christianity.
He clearly didn’t follow the rules too closely though. His girlfriend Brandi McClain broke up with him after he converted. Obsessed, he searched for a way to get revenge. He lured her friend Jessica Bergstein into a San Diego apartment and beat her unconscious before raping and suffocating her. Now he’s serving a minimum 31-year-sentence.
A former middleweight champion in kickboxing, Evangelous Goussis was also briefly a professional boxer. The Australian has become infamous for his criminal record which is definitely one of the craziest on this list. Goussis was heavily involved in the Ozzie gangland scene and served time in the 90s for drug trafficking and attempted murder.
In 2008, he’d be charged with shooting two Melbourne gangster in the head. He was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after 33 years. What a crazy guy.
Considered one of boxing’s most wasted talents, Tony Ayala Jr. was a professional record who once racked up an unbeaten record of 22 straight wins, including 18 knockouts. The Cuban-American missed out on a title shot because of his problems outside of the ring.
He was convicted of the brutal rape of his neighbour, a school teacher in 1983. He was slammed with a 35-year sentence after previously being convicted of alcohol-related offences in the past. He’d be released in 1999 but sent down again in 2004 for offences including heroin possession. In 2015, he died from a drug overdose.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a cricket player. Yes, even the most gentlemanly of games can produce crazy murderers. Warrington Philip was a legendary bowler for St. Kitts and Nevis. he was a star of the game in the 1990s, destroying some of the best batsmen in the world, with his infamous spinning abilities.
In 2006, the cricketer’s wife Shermel was found in her car with her throat slashed. Philip was picked up by police on the same day and would eventually be found guilty of her murder in 2007. The process was drawn out and a motive was never established, but martial troubles were suggested. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Brazilian goalkeeper Bruno looked like he was on track to be a superstar. A series of excellent performances for Flamengo saw him being linked with European giants Barcelona and had fans calling for him to be selected for national team duty. That’s all hunky-dory, but things go downhill very quickly.
In 2014, his former mistress Eliza Samaudo went missing. She had sued him for refusing to acknowledge their illegitimate child. Meanwhile, he was negotiating a transfer with Italian giants AC Milan. She was murdered and her body was cut up. It was partially fed to dogs and also buried under concrete by Bruno’s teenage cousin. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison but insanely only served six.
James Butler is a bit of a mad man. A former boxer, the highlight of his career is probably challenging for the IBF super-middleweight title back in 2000. His next fight would basically see him destroy his career when he sucker-punched Richard Grant and was charged with 2nd-degree assault. Grant needed 26 stitches on his tongue.
That’s nothing compared to Butler’s coup de grace. He was convicted of the murder and arson in the 2004 death of Oscar Kellerman. Allegedly, the victim was leasing his house to Butler and asked him to move out because he was ruining. Naturally, Butler responded by taking a hammer to his head and burning the place down.
Nicknamed ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘The Fastest Man With No Legs,” Oscar Pistorius is a former Paralympic champion. The South African had both his legs amputated as a baby but had a fine athletic career and even became a star in his own country. In 2012, he was the first double-leg amputee to feature at a Summer Olympics.
Unfortunately, it all goes downhill after that. He was arrested in 2014 for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the bathroom of their house. The prosecution was unable to prove it was murder but did convict him of culpable homicide. This was overturned and now he’s serving 13 years for murder.
Rae Carruth finally walked free from prison in 2018 after serving 19 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder, shooting an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. The gifted wide receiver played for the Carolina Panthers up until 1999, when his pregnant girlfriend was shot in a drive-by.
It was proven that Carruth had hired Brett Watkins to try and kill his girlfriend because he didn’t want the child. Tragically Adams died and Carruth fled the state before he was picked up hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel. He escaped the death penalty because he wasn’t charged with first-degree murder.
The pursuit, arrest, and trial of OJ Simpson is one of the most publicised criminal cases in US history. It’s spawned books, TV series and documentaries. He was charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. 100 million people tuned to watch him getting acquitted in 1995.
In 2007 he met his comeuppance after leading the armed robbery of a Las Vegas casino. In 2008 he was convicted to 33 years in prison after being slammed with charges including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon. He was released in 2017 after serving nine years.
People make mistakes. One bad decision or moment of madness can destroy your life and another person’s. Tom Payne didn’t make one mistake. He’s just an evil scumbag. In the 1970s, the former NBA player was enjoying a prospering career with the Atlanta Hawks. Then he was charged and convicted of several rapes and aggravated sodomy.
After serving his time in prison, he was then extradited to Kentucky where he starred as a college footballer. He spent another five years in jail there for several rapes. Then in the 80s, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison after being caught in the act of raping a woman. After his release in 2000, he was sent back to Kentucky to serve another 15 years for violating his parole. The dude is just pure twisted.