Thou shalt not steal. It is right there in the Ten Commandments for all to see and read if there are any questions about the matter. Those who would not consider themselves to be religious should not, of course, need to refer to that list to realize that stealing from others is wrong, but we unfortunately do not live in such a peaceful and kind world. Because of that reality and also because athletes are human and flawed beings, there exists a long list of personalities in the sports world being involved in cases that have included accusations of theft and burglary.
Not every athlete who has been caught stealing has taken part in a heinous crime that put him behind bars for years. Some of the instances have been rather silly or even downright dumb. This includes a young man who is just beginning what he hopes will be a successful National Football League career, a former Florida State University quarterback who learned the hard way that you have to pay for seafood at the grocery store regardless of whatever arrangement you may or may not have thought existed at the time. At least we now know that the QB can afford to purchase just about any food item that he wants.
Other stories contain no humorous elements, however, because they are tales of once great athletes who fell apart once they retired as active players or who destroyed their own reputations because of crimes that they committed. Arguably the most famous case involves a man who made his name as a college and professional running back before he entered the entertainment world as an actor. That man had what appeared, on paper, to be an enviable life, but even an escape from what would have been a life-changing conviction was not enough to keep that individual from making a costly decision.
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13 Nicole Bass
Pro wrestling fans who followed the “boom” of the industry in the 1990s likely remember Nicole Bass from her time in ECW and WWE. The bodybuilder and fitness trainer worked for both of those organizations as a storyline bodyguard, and she has made appearances for independent companies over the years. Bass found herself in legal trouble in June of 2015 when she allegedly walked out of supermarket with over $1,300 worth of products without paying for those items. The regular of the Howard Stern Show was picked up by police, but she is not expected to do serious hard time in prison because of the matter.
12 Jamie Lawrence
Some athletes fall apart upon turning to a life of crime. Others, however, have their lives changed at early ages because of such incidents. Jamie Lawrence was just a teenager when he and a friend were caught operating a stolen vehicle, and other crimes landed the young Lawrence in prison. It was behind bars where Lawrence went from a kid who was good at football to a man capable of making a living playing the sport, and he ultimately caught on with Sunderland. What was a successful career that lasted nearly two decades may have never been had Lawrence not learned hard lessons as a young man.
11 Stanley Wilson
The self-destruction of Stanley Wilson is one of the more unfortunate NFL stories to ever occur. Wilson had a nasty cocaine habit while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals, one that was so overpowering that the drug kept him off of the field for Super Bowl XXIII when a coach found him high on the eve of the big game. The league banned Wilson for life and the player's demons haunted him long after he last played in a NFL game. He found himself behind bars in 1999 after he was convicted of stealing roughly $130,000 in property. Wilson was reportedly looking to support his cocaine habit when he committed the crime.
12. Roy James
Perhaps, in an alternate world, Roy James could have been remembered for his ability to operate a race car during competitions. James is instead known as one of the individuals involved in what has become known as the Great Train Robbery of 1963. James and a group of others were found guilty of stealing what would be over £50million in today's economy. Just as crazy as is the amount of money is the fact that roughly three-fourths of what was stolen was never recovered by law enforcement officials. Those curious to learn inside information about the investigation will have to wait until the year 2045, as investigation files are scheduled to be closed until that time.
10 Robert Swift
Robert Swift had the size to play in the National Basketball Association, standing at over 7-foot tall and checking in at around 280 pounds during his playing days. Size is often not matched by talent and ability, however, and that was the case for Swift. Swift was already facing weapons charges in January of 2015 when the former member of the Seattle SuperSonics and Oklahoma City Thunder, along with a partner, looked to rob a home. The plan was executed during the day, which proved to be unwise for Swift. He was arrested and it was later reported that Swift claimed that he was high on drugs during the attempted robbery.
9 David Ling
David Ling was a journeyman professional who had some forgettable stints in the National Hockey League before he was accused of multiple crimes in July of 2015. Ling and a woman he had been dating for over a year entered into a verbal altercation that became physical after Ling allegedly struck his victim. That moment occurred after Ling, according to reports, made off with the woman's cellphone, wallet and passport. Police eventually tracked the former player down and he was charged with third-degree grand theft and also domestic battery.
8 Denny McLain
A pitcher winning 30 games in Major League Baseball is unheard of these days. Denny McLain was the last man to achieve that feat in the 20th century, but it is his many activities off of the field, most notably his affinity for gambling, that launched the beginning of the end of his professional and personal lives as he knew them. McLain and some business partners purchased a meat-processing company in 1994, but the company went bankrupt two years later. McLain and another individual were convicted of several crimes, including stealing millions of dollars from a pension fund.
7 Sonny Liston
The sports world as we know it could look much differently had Sonny Liston not turned to a life of crime at an early age. Liston landed himself behind bars in 1950 after he was convicted of, among other charges, armed robbery and it was in prison where Liston first saw that he could legitimately make a living as a boxer. He would go on to win the Heavyweight Championship before he first entered the ring to take on a loudmouth named Muhammad Ali. Liston lost back-to-back encounters to Ali, albeit both finishes were controversial in the eyes of some.
7. Joseph Randle
The Dallas Cowboys running back saw his name in news headlines in October of 2014 when he was accused of stealing underwear and a bottle of cologne that was used as a tester. If that wasn't enough, Joseph Randle was popped the following February for unlawful possession of marijuana. That matter, one that allegedly included a domestic disturbance, was quietly dropped and it has mostly been forgotten by Dallas football fans and by those who cover the NFL. Randle is, as of the posting of this piece, scheduled to be the No. 1 running back on the depth chart of the Cowboys for the 2015 season.
6 Marlon King
You would probably need a cheat sheet to keep up with the criminal cases involving Marlon King before and during his footballing career. King was a troubled youth as a teenager and such problems followed him through adulthood. Along with serving nine months in prison after he received a stolen BMW, King was also fined because of two counts of theft. King was handed 18 months behind bars in May of 2014 for dangerous driving following an incident that involved King causing a pile-up on the road. That was not the first time his actions behind the wheel got him in trouble with the law and thus King was also banned from driving for three years.
5 Art Schlichter
Art Schlichter was a promising quarterback while starting at Ohio State University, but his love of football was not enough for him to overcome his desire to gamble. Schlichter's gambling addiction sunk his NFL career, so much so that he is widely perceived as one of the biggest draft busts in the history of the league. Any hope that years and years behind bars had finally aided in Schlichter getting his life together disappeared in the winter of 2011 when he was first accused of stealing millions of dollars in a ticket scam. To top things off, Schlichter tested positive for cocaine while he was on house arrest after he pleaded guilty regarding the ticket scheme.
4 Jameis Winston
What exactly happened when Jameis Winston, who was attending Florida State University at the time, walked into a Publix in April of 2014 may never fully be known by anybody other than the quarterback. Winston was accused of stealing crab legs from the store and the incident resulted in Winston being cited by police and then suspended from the school's baseball team. After he announced that he was making himself eligible for the 2015 NFL Draft, Winston explained that he had been told he could take the food for free. The incident is now behind him and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback can afford to buy all the crab legs he wants.
3 Lenny Dykstra
The downfall of the former Major League Baseball player has been public and depressing, and it is one that has unfolded over the past couple of decades. Lenny Dykstra has had many run-ins with the law over the years, and the man who featured for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies during his playing days earned himself prison stints following multiple incidents. Along with pleading no contest to grand theft auto, Dykstra also admitted that he attempted to get around a bankruptcy filing by hiding or destroying items. The days of Dykstra being remembered only for what he achieved in the game of baseball are now gone forever.
2 Clifford Etienne
Unless you are a diehard fan of the sport of boxing, it is likely that you only recognize the name Clifford Etienne because he was one of the man victims of “Iron” Mike Tyson inside of the ring. Etienne was allegedly high on cocaine when he was caught stealing from a check-cashing business in August 2005. A gun was used in the robbery and Etienne shot at three different people. Two of those individuals happened to be police officers. Etienne was found guilty and sentenced to a total of 160 years in prison, but that amount was later dropped down to 105 years.
1 O.J. Simpson
Whatever you may have thought of “The Trial of the Century,” you would probably have to admit that the evidence against former NFL running back O.J. Simpson was at least a little troubling. Simpson was found not guilty of murder in that case, but he again found himself in trouble with the law following a confrontation that occurred inside of a Las Vegas hotel room in September 2007. Simpson claimed that he was attempting to retrieve his own memorabilia, but he was ultimately found guilty of multiple charges stemming from the burglary. Simpson won parole on some of those charges in 2013, but he is still scheduled to remain behind bars until at least 2017.
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