I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be told that you are going to be spending the next several years of your life behind bars. I especially cannot imagine how that would feel if I was a former prominent athlete, who was now clearly at an incredible low point in my life. I don’t know what it’s like to sleep in a prison cell, but I bet it’s a heck of a lot less comfortable than the incredible expensive bed that you probably owned when you were at the top of your game. Not to mention the company is probably a lot less inviting.
That’s not to say that these athletes didn’t deserve it though. Some of the athletes on this list did things that are awful enough to make you re-think your lunch option and they are well deserving of the life sentence that they’ve been handed out. Other athletes are on the list and are a reminder of how their career may have been altered because of their off-field incidents. Some of the lightest punishments on the list were still strong enough to make a serious impact. That being said, a large majority of this list won’t be able to read this article, because they’re still in a jail cell (and trust me, you’ll agree with me that they deserve to be).
No matter what type of crime you are looking for (murder, robbery, sexual assault) there is a prominent athlete out there who has done both the crime and is currently doing the time.
These are 15 of the worst crimes that an athlete has ever committed.
15 Adam Johnson - 6 Years
Adam Johnson is a respectable soccer player, but his actions off the pitch have led to some well-deserved scrutiny. Johnson was arrested on suspicion of having sex with a 15-year-old girl. The girl allegedly bragged about the relationship with Johnson on social media and with friends, leading to her father finding out and complaining to police. This would not be nearly as awkward of a situation if not for the fact that only a few weeks prior to his arrest, Johnson welcomed in a daughter with his long-term girlfriend, Stacey Flounders. Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child, and one charge of grooming.
14 War Machine - Ongoing (May Be Life In Prison)
If you needed any hint that Jonathan Koppenhaver is an idiot, look no further then the fact that he legally changed his name to War Machine. Machine was a talented UFC fighter with a career record of 14-5, but he often found himself in trouble with the law. In 2010, he was charged and sentenced to a year following a felony assault conviction. It took him under a year from his release, to find himself back behind bars. His worst incident came in August 2014, when he went to arrive at his girlfriend’s house (adult actress Christy Mack) to propose to her, when he found another man there.
Machine beat up Mack’s friend and then forced Mack to take a shower in front of him before beating her, cutting off her hair with a dull knife, and pressing the edge of that knife into her naked body. He left her with 18 broken bones in her face, a fractured rib, a ruptured liver, and a few missing teeth.
13 Michael Vick - 23 Months
There isn’t a football fan out there that does not at least kind of know the story about Michael Vick. If you don’t, and you love dogs, I’m sorry. Michael Vick was arrested in 2007 after it was discovered that he was running a dog fighting ring on his property. More then 70 dogs were found on the property and many were showing signs of injury. Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his involvement, followed by three years of probation. While he was able to return to the NFL and find success again, this is still one of the worst examples of criminal activity by a professional athlete.
Vick was suspended from the NFL and ordered to pay money back to the Atlanta Falcons, not to mention losing his sponsorships.
12 Mike Tyson - 3 Years
11 Jayson Williams - 5 Years
10 Mike Danton - 7.5 Years
If there is one thing that you don’t want to do, it’s hire someone to murder another person. Especially if you’re so bad at it, that instead of hiring a hitman, you hired a police dispatcher. Mike Danton was arrested in 2004 and charged with conspiracy to commit murder after it was revealed that he tried to kill his agent, David Frost. Frost denies that he was the target of the hit; instead claiming that Danton wanted to kill his estranged Father, Steve Jefferson. Either way, the judge sentenced Danton to seven and a half years in federal prison. It was revealed in 2008, that Danton’s lawyer had never actually graduated law school and thus, was unable to practice law.
Talk about making mistakes left, right, and center! Danton was eligible for, and granted, parole on September 11th, 2009.
9 Darren Sharper - 9 Years, Potential For 15-20 Years
Darren Sharper played in the NFL for 14 years and was one of the premier players of the game; being an All-Pro selection six times. Instead of looking at a football field, he is instead looking like he could spend the next 15-20 years behind bars. Sharper pleaded guilty or no-contest to charges that he drugged and sexually assaulted at least nine women in Arizona, California, and Louisiana. Because he committed these crimes in different sates, he will receive different sentences but has currently been sentenced to nine years in Arizona.
8 Rae Carruth - 18 Years and 11 Months
Rae Carruth was a member of the Carolina Panthers from 1997-1999 and had four career touchdowns. That’s the end of his accomplishments, perhaps in life, because he is currently sitting behind bars after being sentenced to 18 years and 11 months in prison. Carruth was having an argument with Cherica Adams, who was his pregnant girlfriend at the time. Adams was in her car, when Carruth cut her off and impeded her progress. Another man, Van Brett Watkins, was hired by Carruth and drove up and shot Cherica four times.
7 Lee Murray - 25 Years
Don’t you love a good crime heist movie? Lee Murray must have when he and a group of others decided to break into the Securitas cash depot in Tonbridge, Kent, and escaped with roughly $92.5 million dollars in cash. Murray fled the country to Morocco but was arrested four months later. Murray was proven to be of Moroccan nationality, and was tried under their laws. During the testimony, it was revealed that 14 employees were bound during the robbery and that the men stated they would kill them if they did not cooperate.
6 Mark Rogowski - 31 Years
5 Lawrence Phillips - 7 Years, Added 25 Years
Lawrence Phillips might have been the first overall pick in the 1996 draft if not for concerns of his character off the field. Instead, he went sixth overall to the St.Louis Rams. Hard to argue with those teams who passed on him considering Phillips is currently what happened. In 2005, Phillips was arrested after he tried to drive his car over three teenagers following a dispute over a pick-up football game. He was sentenced to 10 years in 2008 for these charges. When he was arrested, it was also shown that he was wanted for two alleged domestic abuse incidents with a former lover. Phillips' former partner claimed that he used to choke her to the point of unconsciousness.
4 O.J. Simpson - 33 Years
3 Eddie Johnson - Life
2 Aaron Hernandez - Life
Aaron Hernandez is the most recent, but far from the first NFL star to end his career locked up behind bars. Hernandez was conviced of the murder of Odin Llyod who was found shot dead less than a mile from Hernandez' house. Things got even worse when it came out that Hernandez' motivation for killing Lloyd was that he may have known too much information about a past drive-by shooting that Hernandez was involved in.
1 Jerry Sandusky - Life
Jerry Sandusky may not be the most accredited sports figure on this list for his on-field accomplishments, but he is by far the slimiest. Sandusky was the defensive coordinator for Penn State University for 30 years, and also founded The Second Mile charity that was focused on helping underprivledged and at-risk youth. Eventually the story broke that Sandusky was using his charity to find children, groom them, and then molest them. Sandusky was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation. The abuse that he was charged with ranged from 1994-2009, but there is no telling on the true number of victims. Sandusky was sentenced with 30 years minimum and a maximum of 60 years.
The Judge could have thrown out an incredibly huge number, but instead stated that “he intentionally avoided a sentence with a large number of years, saying it would be 'too abstract" and also said to Sandusky that the sentence he handed down had the "unmistakeable impact of saying 'the rest of your life."
Sandusky was 68 years old at the time of sentencing.
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