15 Athletes Turned Criminals
Athletes have a tremendous amount of power and respect. With that comes social responsibility. Many athletes are looked up to as role models. Some athletes fit the bill of being a role model, others don’t. Some athletes, for whatever reason feel as if they are above the law and can get away with anything. Some athletes have broken the law and got away with it, other athletes have broken the law and were punished severely. Often times when athletes get busted for a crime their career suffers and sometimes comes to an abrupt end due to jail time. All of their athletic accolades get over shadowed by their costly mistake. The athletes on this list know about that all too well.
Tanya Harding Tanya Harding is an accomplished figure skater. She has won two Olympic gold medals and is the first American woman to complete a triple axel. During her career she developed a unfriendly rivalry with Nancy Kerrigan. In 1994 Kerrigan was attacked and injured preventing her from skating in the 1994 U.S. Figure Skaring Championships. It was speculated that Harding was involved with Kerrigan’s injury. Her and a few others brought to trial over the incident. Harding, of all the people who were involved, would have been the main benefactor of the crime. Somehow she managed to avoid jail time. She struck a deal and pled guilty of conspiring to hinder the prosecution, receiving a sentence of a $160,000 fine, three years probation and 500 hours of community service.
Tony Ayala Jr. Tony Ayala Jr. was a rising star in the boxing world. He might have been known as one of the greats, but due to him getting in trouble, we will never know. In 1983, Ayala burglarized the home of a school teacher who lived in his neighborhood and sexually assaulted her. Ayala was only 19 years old and this was his third convicted offense. It landed him a 35-year-prison-sentence. He was released in 1999 after serving 16 years and attempted a brief comeback before more troubles with the law put him back in prison.
Dave Meggett During his NFL career Dave Meggett played for the New York Giants, Jets and New England Patriots. He had an accomplished career which included three All-Pro selections. All of his athletic triumphs are overshadowed by decades of despicable behavior towards women. In 1998, Meggett was arrested in Toronto, Canada, after authorities said he allegedly assaulted an escort worker after a three-way sexual encounter. In 2006, he was accused of sexually assaulting his former girlfriend. It wasn’t until 2010 he was convicted and sentenced to 30-years in prison for the rape and robbery of a South Carolina woman. His current released date is set for July 2034.
OJ Simpson Probably the most famous athlete to turn criminal of all time is OJ Simpson. Simpson was acquitted in a high-profile case involving the murder of his wife and friend that had most people in the nation believing he was to blame. The case was in the public eye from beginning to end. Karma seemed to exist in his case though, as several years later he was charged with robbery and kidnapping, and was sentenced to 9 to 33 years in jail.
Lenny Dykstra Lenny Dykstra played for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies during his career. He was a decent player becoming a fan favorite in both cities. After his retirment is when the trouble began to start. After facing a litany of charges in different incidents ranging from sexual harassment to bankruptcy fraud, the fall of the Dykstra empire was cemented when the former outfielder pled no contest to grand theft auto and falsifying financial statements in 2011, to avoid drug charges. He was sentenced to three years in prison after trying to withdraw his plea agreement.
Plexico Burrress Plexico Burress is a shining example that money can’t buy you a brain. The former NFL wide receiver was arrested for shooting himself in the leg with an unregistered gun in a New York night club. That incident led him to be charged on two felony gun possession counts. The Giants released him and he missed out on a couple of seasons in the NFL. He returned with the Jets but went back to the Steelers after one year.
Ryan Leaf Ryan Leaf is considered to be one of the biggest busts in the NFL’s history. He had a great collegiate football career but could not deliver in the NFL. He played for four years, being traded to a different team each year. His short NFL career is never really mentioned but his criminal activity is. Leaf robbed a home and took prescription drugs from the scene. This came just three days after he allegedly burglarized a separate home and was released on $76,000 bond. He sucks at football and crime.
Darryl Henley Darryl Henley was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1989 NFL Draft from UCLA. In his career he played in 76 games and amassed 12 interceptions. Henley was not satisfied with the fame and money coming from being in the NFL. He needed money from other avenues as well. The former Rams star was the head of very large drug-trafficking operation, moving cocaine. When he was caught he conspired to kill the judge and a witness that was involved with his trial. He was sentenced to a hefty 41 years in prison.
Lawrence Phillips Lawrence Phillips was a former running back for the St. Louis Rams and the Miami Dolphins. He spent a few years playing football in the Euro league before returning to the NFL with the 49ers. Phillips had a promising career but that would be tainted by his criminal record. This former NFL running back committed assault with a deadly weapon. In 2005 he was arrested assault after allegedly driving a car into three teenagers. He is now doing a 10 year bid in prison.
Sam Hurd Sam Hurd made his debut in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006. He was then trade to the Chicago Bears in 2010. All the while Hurd was in the NFL he was also running a drug trafficking business. The former wide receiver actually reportedly made more money running drugs on a large-scale than he did playing in the NFL. Marijuana and cocaine were his drugs of choice and for the large quantities that he had been distributing, he was sentenced to 15 long years in the slammer in 2013.
Tom Payne Tom Payne was a basketball star at the University of Kentucky and was the first black person to play for the school. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks and played for them during the ’71-’72 season. A talented basketball player, Payne was one of the more disturbing sports criminals of all-time. He was a serial rapist who received multiple convictions for rape as well a sodomy charge. This and several other criminal counts led him to receiving a 15-year sentence back in 2000.
Mel Hall Former baseball player Mel Hall played for three teams in major league baseball and for two Japanese teams in the Japanese baseball league. Hall wasn’t considered and elite player but was good one. Hall was also a disturbing individual when he wasn’t behind bars. In Texas in 2007 he was charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a minor and one count of indecency with a child. For his heinous crimes, he was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
Ugueth Urbina Ugueth Urbina was a two-time All-Star pitcher for the National League. He helped the Florida Mariners win the 2003 World Series. In a vicious crime involving machetes and gasoline, Urbina was involved with an attempted murder in Venezuela. The former MLB pitcher was sentenced to 14 years in jail, but served just five and a half. He was released in 2012.
Donte Stallworth Donte Stallworth is currently a free agent and that is probably due to his past legal issues. The former Saints wide receiver was suspended by the NFL for the 2009 season after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter charges in Florida. Stallworth hit a man with his car while he was driving intoxicated and received just 30 days of jail time. It was reported that Stallworth could have been proven innocent of the charges, but he pled guilty because he felt it was morally right.
Aaron Hernandez Former New England Patriot, Aaron Hernandez is currently on trial for murder. Hernandez was drafted by the Patriots in 2010 after he was part of the University of Florida BCS Championship winning team. In 2013 he was indicted on three murder charges. On August 22, 2013, Hernandez was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player. In May of 2014, Hernandez was indicted again for a 2012 double homicide. He has been sitting in jail with no bail and he has been released from the Patriots. The verdict of this trial should be given in a few days.