The majority of athletes are in fantastic shape. They spend a huge amount of their time either training for their sport, competing, or in the gym. They will also have experts to help them with their diet and workout regiment, and this is how they stay in tip-top shape and compete at a high level. This is true for the majority of athletes, but not all of them. There are a number of professional athletes who have really let themselves go over the years, and this is difficult to understand as it is their profession to exercise and be active every single day.
Typically it will be those coming towards the end of their career that put on weight as they are getting less game time, getting older and may not feel the need to impress anymore. Letting yourself go following retirement is a little more understandable. After all, you've spent most of your life on the strictest of diets, so naturally, you'd want to have a little slack once you're not expected to be a physical specimen. There are some younger athletes who have let themselves go too though, and this will always leave coaches and coaching staff furious when they turn up for training camp with a few added pounds in all the wrong places. These athletes clearly spend more of their offseason in McDonald's than in the gym, and they will often fall out of favor with the coach and struggle to lose this weight.
Many athletes put themselves through grueling fitness routines so that they can stay fit, healthy and ahead of the competition. This can understandably become too much at times, but the majority of athletes manage to stay in excellent condition throughout their career. Some, however, do not and really let themselves go much to the frustration of teammates and coaching staff, and much to the amusement of the fans.
15 Abdel Taarabt
At the beginning of the season Harry Redknapp spoke about the notable absence of Moroccan forward Abdel Taarabt, stating that he wasn’t playing because he wasn’t fit. The 68-year-old claimed “He’s not fit to play football. He played in a reserve game the other day and I could have run about more than he did.” Redknapp also claimed Taarabt was “three stone overweight”, which is a slight exaggeration but the forward certainly had packed on some pounds it seemed. Taarabt lashed back at his boss, causing friction between the two until Redknapp stepped down later in the season to have knee surgery. Taarabt can presumably run around more than Harry now.
14 Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton has always been a chunkier point guard than most, but after a few seasons in the NBA it seems that his wages allowed him to indulge himself more than usual. Felton packed on a few pounds and his production suffered, and although he is in better shape now (but still a thick 6-foot-1 and 205 lbs) he has failed to live up to expectations and finds himself deep on the bench in Dallas. Felton’s weight has been a source of amusement for many fans, with some holding large pictures of burgers, hot dogs and donuts when he is shooting free throws.
13 Albert Haynesworth
Albert Haynesworth had all kinds of problems throughout his career and was a coach’s nightmare, and his weight was just one of these headaches. The defensive tackle was always a mountain of a man, but after a few seasons in the NFL he gained a large amount weight in the wrong places and became massively out of shape. Haynesworth soon began to complain about the coaching staff, take plays off, disrespect teammates and of course his play suffered drastically as his weight and fitness had taken a blow. In fact, coming into the 2010 training camp, Haynesworth failed multiple fitness tests, and as a result, couldn't participate in the camp. He was traded to New England the following offseason.
His career was hugely promising early on, but he soon let himself go and completely tarnished his reputation as a player.
12 Lamar Odom
With a nickname like “The Candy Man”, it is easy to guess how Lamar Odom let himself go. The two-time NBA champion and current free agent has never been quiet about his love for candy, and a once lean player has now developed into one that could be described as “festively plump”. This weight gain has also been since his split from Khloe Kardashian, and after a tough last few years in the NBA it may be a long way back now for “The Candy Man” as teams are likely to pass on a 35-year-old whose candy compulsion has finally caught up with him.
11 Jameis Winston
There were a few alarm bells ringing when a photo of highly regarded QB Jameis Winston emerged of him shirtless and looking rather paunchy, as many predict him to be the no.1 pick in the upcoming 2015 NFL draft. The QB’s tutor was quick to point out that he has an elastic tether around his weight as he is training, but even so he does not epitomize what you would expect a top pick to look like. He was weighed at around 248 pounds prior to his offseason training (when the picture was taken), but at the scouting combine he came in at a slimmer (but still big) 231 pounds. This has alleviated concerns, but Winston letting himself go even before joining the NFL will raise some eyebrows (as well as remind many of another player slightly further down the list).
10 Eddie Lacy
For many professional athletes, the offseason can be a period where it becomes too difficult to fight temptation after months of hard work and travel around the country. This was proven to be the case for Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy, who was photographed at training camp in 2013 looking far from his best. Lacy admitted in an interview that he had been “splurging too much on fast food” and was up to at least 238 pounds, a huge amount for a running back. The photographs probably made Lacy look larger than he was, but he still admitted to letting himself go during the offseason and this is common for athletes after a grueling season. Lacy had a slow start to that season, but eventually found his form, scoring 11 rushing touchdowns and won Offensive Rookie of the Year.
9 Andruw Jones
After signing a two-year deal with the Dodgers worth $36.2 million, it generally isn’t a great idea to show up to spring training 20 pounds overweight and out of shape. Jones then struggled in L.A, hitting below .200 and then being dropped to 8th in the lineup. His extra weight was a contributing factor in a knee injury that placed him on the disabled list, and he was then not seen in the dugout and was soon sent home. Jones was released from the Dodgers in 2009, marking the end of a nightmare experience which tarnished his reputation.
Jones let himself go, didn’t work to correct his weight and consequently got ripped by Dodgers fans. Jones has since lost weight, and looking back on his time in L.A. he claims it was “the worst year of my life, by far.” Lesson learnt.
8 LenDale White
LenDale White stunned NFL scouts at a weigh in prior to the 2006 NFL Draft, as the hot college prospect had ballooned from 238 to 254 pounds since leaving USC. It is said that there were audible gasps when White took his shirt off at the weigh in, and one scout is said to have laughed at the sight. One NFL GM commented “the guy needed a bra, it was ridiculous”. Nicknames such as “LenWhale White” and “Big Fat LenDale White” were being banded around, and his stock dropped massively seeing him plummet from a predicted first round pick to eventually being selected with the 45th pick by the Titans.
White shed some of the weight a few years later, with cutting out tequila apparently being a contributing factor. This did little to save his career, and ultimately White letting himself go between college and the NFL ruined his promising career.
7 Charles Barkley
They don’t call him the “round mound of rebound” for nothing. Although Barkley was always slightly chunky, he weighed in around 250 pounds in the early stages of his career and had no problem sprinting up and down the court. He let himself go later in his career and reached over 300 pounds, and although still an elite player he became noticeably slower and less mobile. Looking back on his diet, Barkley stated “I only ate rice, corn and potatoes, which are clearly starches. People don’t get fat eating fruits and vegetables”. Barkley has since put the weight off.
6 Shawn Kemp
There was a time when Shawn Kemp was electrifyingly athletic and he is one of the most exciting dunkers of all-time. Unfortunately, he seriously let himself go during the lockout shortened 1998-99 season and showed up to training camp with a new curvy figure. Kemp had gone from around 230 pounds to around 315, and when asked by his coach about his dramatic weight gain Kemp replied “Coach, I didn’t think we were coming back.” Kemp managed to shift some of this weight, but he never recaptured his explosiveness and would struggle with off court issues and his weight for a number of years.
5 Bartolo Colon
Despite his belly and age, Bartolo Colon continues to perform. The Dominican born pitcher entered the league in 1993 at around 185 pounds, but over the years this has risen as he has aged, and now the 41-year-old cuts a rotund figure at around 265 pounds. He has been seen grabbing his belly and shaking it after a good performance and he has unscripted workouts, essentially letting him get on with it. Bartolo Colon still manages to perform to a relatively high level despite his weight gain over the years, and he appears to be happy with his curves too. Fans can always get behind an overweight athlete that is still respectable at their sport, and Colon is a prime example of this.
It is a little bit harsh, but when discussing football and the name Ronaldo comes up people will often ask “which one?”, and nine times out of 10 when referring to the Brazilian Ronaldo, people will reply with “the fat one”. Of course most people would look chunky in comparison to Cristiano, but Brazilian Ronaldo gained an enormous amount of weight in his last few years as a player. He is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats, but he is now often remembered for going from a fine athlete to a plump and immobile player prior to his retirement in 2011. He has since shed much of this weight after going on a celebrity weight loss show, but his playing days are now well behind him and he will forever be remembered as “Fat Ronaldo”.
3 Shaquille O’Neal
It is easiest to remember Shaq as the gigantic beast in the post who could simply move people with his weight before throwing down a vicious dunk. This Shaq also had trouble getting up and down the court at around 325 pounds, and this weight caused plenty of injuries for the Big Man too. This was not always the case however, as in college and in his early career Shaq would frequently grab a rebound and run coast to coast for a soaring dunk, and although still big, he had a slender and athletic frame and was under 300 pounds. Shaq soon got bigger and less mobile, and as the years went by he would only play directly under the basket.
He was of course still one of the most dominant players of all time, but his weight gain limited his game and kept him out for large stretches through injury.
2 CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia was a lean 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds when he was a rookie, but over his career he got much, much bigger and he has frequently been weighed at over 300 pounds and is the heaviest player in the MLB. Surprisingly, it is when he has been at his heaviest that he has been his best, as the Yankees pitcher was getting more behind his pitches. One of the consequences of letting yourself go however is the fact that it will put great strain on your body when you exercise, and consequently CC Sabathia has had plenty of issues with knee injuries. Sabathia had lost weight in 2013 after crash dieting, but he would then again plump up to over 300 in order to try and recapture his previous form.
1 John Daly
You may not have to be in prime physical condition to be a golfer, but most will still consider themselves athletes and take care of their body. Legendary golfer John Daly is notorious for not being one of these golfers, and he spent a large period of his career binge drinking, smoking on the course and generally living in excess. This caused him to gain a huge amount of weight and he was up to around 300 pounds, but he has since had adjustable gastric band (lap-band) surgery which has helped him to lose around 115 pounds. Although he has, somewhat, cleaned up his act, Daly will always be remembered as the rebel of golf and an athlete who truly let himself go.