Too often do we see professional athletes publicly humiliate themselves. Too often do we witness our heroes climb the ladder to superstardom, only to allow their status inflate their heads, and have it end up crashing down on them and too often do we shame disgraced athletes to the point that they become vilified in the eyes of the public.
Everybody makes mistakes and, it's actually a beautiful thing - barring it isn't some heinous crime. You see, many times our mistakes will lead us to self-acknowledgement and awareness. Isn't that how we grow as people? Nelson Mandela said it best back in 1998 when he dug out the old adage that says, "The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail." I mean, that kind of says it all right there.
Athletes are introduced to the public spotlight the moment they step on the big stage. Every move that they make is criticized to some extent. However, because they're in the limelight, they're far more prone to the scalding hatred of the fans. This doesn't mean that they can't look to redeem themselves though, as time can cure all ailments.
The athletes on this list were on the road to success. They had all the tools and skills that they needed to reach the next level, yet, they made questionable decisions that led to public backlash. Ultimately, as you read this, think about whether or not you can forgive them. Since forgiveness is the attribute of the strong, it may be worth giving it a second thought. I believe that these athletes, if given the right opportunity, could either revitalize their careers or just come to an impasse with sports fans. It may be farfetched and I might be reaching here, but it's definitely worth a mention.
15 Maria Sharapova
14 Manny Ramirez
13 Manti Te'o
The first word that may come to your mind when you hear the name Manti Te'o might be "hoax". Well, most of you have heard the whole story that broke beyond the world of sports news. It was a tragic, confusing, and embarrassing event that lit up every television station. Honestly, I think it might have had more publicity then the NFL draft that year. The unforgettable trials and tribulations that Te'o had to go through during that year over a non-existent girlfriend were absolutely brutal.
12 Robert Upshaw
Robert Upshaw was an intriguing prospect coming out of Washington. With a history of drug-related problems and character issues (that actually got him kicked out of one school), no team wanted to take their chances on the 7-foot big man. The Lakers decided to give him a shot at making the official roster by bringing him on board for the Summer League. After a subpar performance, he was then stashed on the D-League roster when the season opened.
11 Aldon Smith
One of the most talented, and troubled linebackers in the league, Aldon Smith had gone through a series of unfortunate events that led him to a rehabilitation facility, a year out of football, and now a small window of opportunity given by good faith. Questionable decisions plagued him throughout the beginning of his career. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, suspended for violating the NFL's anti-drug policy, and figuratively slapped in the face by Roger Goodell.
10 Greg Hardy
9 Tiger Woods
8 Ryan Braun
7 Michael Vick
In his prime, Vick was one of the most versatile quarterbacks the NFL had ever seen. His elite athleticism forced opposing defenses to adjust to his style of offensive play. However, gone are the days of the dreadlock Vick. Now, we’re forced to watch him play a few snaps, if even, in a backup role. Nonetheless, this isn’t about his decline in play, but more of the negative reputation and connotation that people associate his name with. Most of us now know him for his controversial dog fighting ring that he established a decade ago.
6 Hulk Hogan
5 Johnny Manziel
4 Lance Armstrong
The cancer survivor and former cyclist was on the pedestal of greatness during his prime. That is, until he admitted to doping. After vehemently denying ever using illegal drugs, he was caught in a whirlwind of a scandal which ended up with a permanent ban from cycling along with being stripped of his seven Tour de France wins. This lie not only spat in the face of millions that loved and adored him, but it also erased decades of history. It's a shame. In 2013, during a live interview, Armstrong admitted to using the hormones cortisone, EPO, and testosterone as well as using blood transfusions to drastically increase the levels of oxygen in his bloodstream.
3 Alex Rodriguez
2 Ray Rice
1 Josh Gordon
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon once showed promise when he was picked up back in 2012 in the NFL Supplemental Draft. His immediate impact gave Browns fans hope that they had a valuable gem in their hands (NFL's receiving yards leader in 2013). That so-called "hope" was short-lived though, as Gordon fell into problems with substance abuse which led to multiple bans. Gordon was looking to be reinstated for the 2016 season but after failing yet another drug test, things aren't looking too bright for the young man.
At the age of 24, Gordon is still young and can provide the Browns with a much-needed offensive weapon, considering he ever does get reinstated. If he proves not to be a head-case and a distraction for the team, there's a possibility that he can come back stronger than ever.
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