Athletes are obviously in the public eye more than most, but there are an unsettling number of athletes that have been accused or convicted of heinous crimes. The following athletes represent some of the most infamous cases, whether or not they were found guilty, and changed the way we looked at these former stars.
Sources: Heavy.com, FansShare.com, CNN.com, The New York Times, The Guardian, ESPN.com
In June 2013, NFL Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd in Massachusetts. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole for the crime (the death penalty was abolished in Massachusetts in 1984), and was also indicted on further murder charges in May 2014 for a double murder that took place in July 2012 in Boston. Hernandez’s trial is ongoing.
OJ Simpson was involved in what became known as the “trial of the century,” after being accused of the 1994 murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Though he was acquitted, he was later found guilty in a wrongful death suit. In September 2007, Simpson was once again charged with numerous felonies including armed robbery and kidnapping — and after being found guilty, is in the midst of serving a 33 year sentence in Nevada.
Paralympic sprinting champion Oscar Pistorius made headlines at the 2012 London Summer Olympics when he became the first double leg amputee to compete in the able-bodied tournament, but that is no longer the main crux of his legacy. In February 2013, Pistorius fatally shot his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, in their home. After a lengthy trial, he was found not guilty of murder, but was charged with culpable homicide.
NFL quarterback Michael Vick served 21 months in prison after being implicated in an illegal dog fighting ring. Vick was found guilty of helping to promote, fund, and facilitate the ring on his property, as well as killing dogs that did not perform well. After his imprisonment, he returned to the NFL and has become politically active in helping to strengthen animal cruelty laws.
Former NFL wide receiver Rae Carruth was found guilty in 2001 of conspiracy to murder the woman ho was pregnant with his child. Cherica Adams, the victim, was boxed in her car by Carruth when one of Carruth’s acquaintances, Van Brett Watkins Sr., shot Adams four times. Adams passed away from her injuries, though the baby was saved, and Carruth is in the midst of serving his prison sentence. He is expected to be released in 2018.
Former NFL player Robert Rozier played for the St. Louis Cardinals for only six games before being released for drug use, but that was only the beginning of his difficulties. After leaving the league, Rozier joined a Black Supremacist cult known as “The Brotherhood,” led by Yahweh ben Yahweh. The group mandated that all members must murder a “white devil” and return with a body part – Rozier admitted to killing seven white people and was charged with murder. After agreeing to testify against Yahweh’s organization, he served ten years of his 22-year sentence before being set free in 1996.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was involved in a fight after a Super Bowl party in January 2000, resulting in the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Despite evidence that pointed to Lewis’s involvement, including blood stains found in his limousine and the disappearance of his suit from the evening, he was able to negotiate a plea agreement to testify against the others involved. Lewis was sentenced to 12 months probation and received a $250,000 fine by the NFL, but was able to rejoin the league.
Former NFL cornerback Daryl Henley is in the midst of serving a 41-year sentence after being convicted for trafficking cocaine — but the crimes did not stop there. While on trial for the initial charge, Henley was found guilty of attempting to contract people to kill the judge presiding over his case, as well as a witness that was testifying.
New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins veteran safety Gene Atkins was put on trial after being accused of hiring people to firebomb the home of a former business partner, but was acquitted. He was later arrested again after his wife called the police and claimed that he was beating her. When police arrived, Atkins was barricaded in the house and attempted to resist arrest. Atkins claimed that he has dementia caused by brain trauma he sustained while playing in the NFL.
In 1991, heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was arrested and convicted for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington, despite maintaining his innocence during the trial – Tyson claimed that the incident was consensual, but evidence from Tyson’s limo driver and an emergency room physician who treated Washington proved otherwise. He served three years of a six-year sentence and quickly rejoined the boxing world, where he would become even more infamous for biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a match.
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