June 30, 2013

From Heroes to Convicts: Crime in Sports

By - Lauren Dundee

Crime and sports seem to go hand in hand. There have been instances of wrongdoing in virtually every sport, from football to figure skating.

With the recent arrest of NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez, crime is again at the forefront of the sporting world. In light of this, here is a look at some of the most infamous crimes committed by athletes or those associated with sports. Hernandez is omitted due to the fact that his case is still ongoing.

- Plaxico Burress

Photo by: Seth Wenig
Burress hit his prime in the mid-2000s, and he helped the New York Giants win the Super Bowl in the 2007 season. Less than a year later, he was in some serious hot water. On November 28th, 2008, the wide receiver accidentally shot himself in the leg with a Glock pistol. Guns are outlawed in New York, and Burress turned himself in for criminal possession of a handgun after word of the shooting spread. More guns were later found in his New Jersey home. Burress was indicted on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment, and was sentenced to two years in prison. He was released on June 6th, 2011, but his career hasn't been the same since.

- Barry Bonds

762 career home runs, 73 of those in one season alone. Without question, Barry Bonds was one of the greatest baseball players to ever step foot on a field. However, his legacy took a major blow when reports surfaced of his alleged use of anabolic steroids. Bonds testified to a grand jury that he believed he had been using flaxseed oil and arthritis cream. On April 13th, 2006, an investigation was launched and it was determined that the former outfielder had committed perjury. He was indicted on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice, and was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest, two years probation, and over 200 hours of community service. Bonds is currently attempting to appeal his conviction.

- Ray Lewis

Lewis is arguably the all-time face of the Baltimore Ravens. He's a legend in the city, and helped the team win two Super Bowls. He also has a dark cloud that will forever hang over him. On January 31st, 2000, Lewis and some friends got into a fight with another group of men, two of which were stabbed to death in the scuffle. Lewis was later charged with murder and aggravated assault. Instead of fighting the charges, the linebacker took a plea deal in agreement to testify against his two companions and a guilty plea of obstruction of justice. Lewis was given twelve months probation. The following season, he won Super Bowl MVP.

- Darryl Strawberry

Strawberry may be best known for his controversial behavior off the diamond as opposed to his great play on it. Despite being a four-time World Series champion and an eight-time All-Star, the former outfielder has the criminal rap sheet of a common street thug. His crimes range from solicitation of a prostitute to failure to pay child support, along with numerous counts of drug possession.

- Ryan Leaf

Photo by: Larry Beckner
Leaf was supposed to be a sure thing, being the second overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. But his drama-filled career would only last until 2002, and he is considered by many to be the biggest bust ever. However, Leaf's on field problems were only the beginning. In May of 2009, he was arrested for burglary and possession of a controlled substance. Three years later, he was again arrested for burglary, theft, and drug possession, and was sentenced to seven years in prison. But it seems jail can't even straighten Leaf out. He has been reprimanded many times while incarcerated for possessing illegal substances and threatening the lives of prison employees.

- Tonya Harding

One of the most notorious crimes in sports history took place in the world of figure skating. On January 6th, 1994, Nancy Kerrigan was viciously attacked and beaten with a baton. Her attacker, Shane Stant, was hired by Tonya Harding's husband and bodyguard in an attempt to break Kerrigan's leg and guarantee Harding a spot on the 1994 Olympic Team. She pled guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution, and was sentenced to three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $160,000 fine. Her fellow attackers all saw jail time.

- Donte Stallworth

On March 14th, 2009, Stallworth was driving his Bentley in Miami when he struck and killed a pedestrian. The wide receiver was well over the legal drinking limit and was also reportedly under the influence of marijuana to boot. He was charged with DUI manslaughter and agreed to a plea deal, serving 24 days in jail.

- Michael Vick

Vick is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He is also a convicted felon. In 2007, it was revealed that the QB was connected to dog fighting. Vick financed the fights, as well as participated in the executions of dogs. He admitted to killing as many as eight canines either by hanging or drowning. Vick pled guilty to felony dog fighting and was sentenced to three years in prison and a $2,500 fine. He was released in 2009, and picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles.

- O.J. Simpson

Photo by: Julie Jacobson
Simpson is one of only seven players to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. But nowadays, the name O.J. is more associated with crime than anything else. In 1994, he was charged with the murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson was controversially acquitted of all charges, but it wasn't the last time he would be in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In September of 2007, he and others robbed a man at gunpoint for sports memorabilia that Simpson claimed had been stolen from him. Police didn't buy it. He was charged with criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon, and was sentenced to up to thirty three years in the pen. O.J. is eligible for parole in 2017.

- Jerry Sandusky

While Jerry Sandusky wasn't an athlete, he used his authority as a sports figure to perform extremely vile acts. An assistant coach under Joe Paterno at Penn State University, Sandusky started the Second Mile charity, used to help out troubled children. Little did the world know he was sexually abusing boys that he met through the organization. Sandusky was charged with over 40 counts of sex crimes against minors, and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. At his age, he'll never walk a free man again.


  1. Pretty thorough list, but you forgot Rae Carruth!

    1. It says "here is a look at SOME of the most infamous crimes committed by athletes or those associated with sports." Stop nitpicking. Lol

  2. God poor plaxico. Put all those guys in a cell bragging about why they are in their for. Hey Vick what did u do? "I was hitler and pitbulls were my jews" Badass!! How about u OJ? "Shit killed my wife and her sancho I got away over a fucked up court but 10 years later I robbed a man who had my shit" wooord!! U leaf? I stole pills from my athletes and got caught stealing. How about u plax what u do..."shot myself"