Unfortunately, every professional sport has players with gang ties from their past, present and in some extraordinary cases (Javaris Crittenton) the future. While researching and creating this list I was blown away at some of the absolute stupidity of most of the players on this list. When it comes to gang ties, it can get touchy and controversial very fast, especially when it comes to famous and popular athletes.
Not everyone on our list is a superstar and they are not all bad people. Some of them simply grew up in a neighborhood with a dominant gang and they are friends because they have been friends since childhood. Some of these guys decided to hang out with gangsters once they became rich and famous. Some decided to become thuggish once they made it big to be intimidating or cool or whatever stupid reason they have.
I want to say that some of the content can be considered as a rumor or opinion and not everything here has been proven beyond question. I definitely add my opinion to some cases and you should be able to know when.
Every athlete on this list had or has alleged gang ties in a legitimate way or a silly and foolish way. I decided to set the list up with the absolute worst person as number 1 (the top five all have been involved someway in a murder case or literally murdered someone) and the absolute best person as number 20.
I did it this way because not everyone on this list is a bad person and some are truly making a difference in their communities while improving the lives of our youth which should be the MAIN goal of every professional athlete (at least at some time in their career).
Now let’s dive in!
19 Caron Butler
Butler has an amazing story and has turned into an amazing person. Many people don’t know how rough his life was growing up in Racine, Wisconsin. He was surrounded by trouble and at first was involved pretty heavily being arrested 15 times and even spending a year in an adult prison before he was 18 because he was already 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds.
How the hell did he turn that around and make the NBA? I wrote a 20 minute presentation on him for college and blew the entire class away with his story from extremely rough to incredibly inspirational. (I got an A on that presentation by the way)
More recently Butler may have saved Gilbert Arenas from another athlete on this list by staying and talking him down while everyone else took off to save their own skin. Had Butler not been there on that crazy day in DC, Arenas may not be here today.
Anyhow, these days Butler is striving to improve his community and help young kids growing up in bad areas avoid trouble and become something amazing. He is the stud of this list by far.
18 Baron Davis
Davis grew up in the rugged streets of L.A. during a time when gangs were running rampant throughout the city and wreaking havoc. He had no choice but to associate with gangsters because they were all he knew growing up.
Unlike a large number of athletes on our list, Davis was able to live as a superstar in the NBA and maintain his friendships without interfering or hindering his life outcome. I commend him because it is incredibly difficult to master that balance.
These days he admits to having gangster friends and even an affiliation with them, but he strives to increase education on the subject and bring a better understanding to help the youngsters continue their dreams despite their surroundings.
17 Jason Avant
Avant openly admits to being part of a gang and dealing drugs in his neighborhood when he was growing up. He also openly admits that he was the “worst gang member and drug dealer ever” not because he was being a badass, but because it just wasn’t natural to him despite his surroundings and it never felt right.
His grandmother had a major influence on him and used her strong sense of faith to help Avant get away from the life her two children had been driven to.
After dealing drugs and bringing home $1,000 a day sometimes as a sixth grader, Avant was able to turn it around and make the NFL thanks to his grandmother never giving up on him.
These days Avant does what he can to improve his community and help the youth avoid the struggles through faith in God and faith in themselves to become something better.
16 Paul Pierce
This was a tough one and I almost left Pierce off the list. However there are definitely some questions regarding who he associated with early on in his career and some of the questionable signs he throws up during games.
He has not been in the news for anything recently, but most of the allegations come from back in 2008 when he was stabbed 11 times by alleged gang members and was later fined for allegedly throwing up a gang sign common with the Bloods street gang.
Pierce is not a gang member and strives to stop gang violence while helping the inner city youth whenever he gets a chance.
15 Tony Tarasco
Tarasco is another professional athlete who openly admits to being in a gang when he was younger and still having some sort of ties. He was part of the Santa Monica Graveyard Crips, but thanks to his baseball talent his friends in the gang never allowed him to do things that would jeopardize his future with baseball.
Eventually his friends from the gang all agreed that he should quit the gang and forget about that lifestyle in order to play professional baseball. A few years later his best friend was gunned down by police claiming he was a robbery suspect.
14 DeSean Jackson
Jackson made a big splash a couple years ago, but not in a good way. There were rumors of his gang ties that were so rampant it may have played a part in the Philadelphia Eagles letting him go. It was a pretty big deal and many people decided to throw their opinion out in support of or against Jackson.
One person who was adamant that Jackson is a good guy and the Eagles were in the wrong is Richard Sherman who is from the same rough city and grew up with him. Like J.R. Smith, Jackson has been seen throwing up gang signs in games and in particular against DeAngelo Hall of the Washington Redskins. Now they are on the same team.
13 Marquis Daniels
Daniels has been of accused of having gang ties for a while and although he may not admit it there are just some things you cannot hide, especially tattoos. At least one particular tattoo says it all, but there are multiple that clearly link back to the “Bloodz” street gang.
The particular tat that gives it away?
The five pointed red star with a black '5' in the middle. This is one of the most common signs associated with the Bloods and there is no denying that. It has also been reported that Daniels consistently replaces the letter “c” with the letter “k” which is another common trait the "Bloods" do as well.
12 Stephen Jackson
Jackson is one of the few athletes who openly admits to having gang ties and has been involved since he was just ninre years old. Fights, drugs and death were a big part of growing up in his neighborhood and it has definitely made an impact on his life. He lost his brother when he was just 15 years old because he was beaten to death.
He openly admits to being associated with the Bloods and wears red on a regular basis because he claims it is just part of who he is and his upbringing. Although he admits to being affiliated, he also made it very clear he is not involved in the gang.
A bit of the gangster came out of him during the infamous game when he was on the Pacers playing against the Detroit Pistons.
11 James Harden
Some may not think Harden should make this list, but he is pretty blatant about who he represents these days. He encountered a good amount of negative attention with his antics during games which often included throwing up signs that look similar to ones used by the Bloods.
Since he has become a superstar, Harden has made friends with multiple rappers who are known to represent the Bloods and even made sure that Lil Wayne got front row seats after complaining about not getting to sit court side and referred to him as “5” which is the common number for thefive pointed star and the Bloods.
Oddly enough, Harden created what he calls the “Beard Gang” in an effort to make an excuse as to why he throws up “B” and what not. Interesting…. Maybe instead of trying to look like a tough guy and showing kids they should hang out with gangsters Harden should try something positive (or at least choose someone better than Lil Wayne).
10 Wilson Chandler
Chandler may be more of an assumption here as he is not near as blatant about any gang ties as pretty much everyone else on this list. He is actually a pretty humble and soft spoken guy off the court despite his tough play on the court and slightly thuggish style of play.
He was also on a team with a few guys on this list for a number of years including Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington and J.R. Smith and they are all covered from head to toe in tattoos. Not that tattoos make you a gang member of course, unless you are blatant with it like Marquise Daniels and his red 5 pointed star with a 5 in it.
His Twitter handle basically consists of random gangster rap lyrics, but nothing really over the top like some guys on this list.
9 Al Harrington
Harrington was on the Nuggets team with a few guys from this list and has definitely not been shy about who he represents throughout his career. His most blatant gang affiliation goes back to when he played in New York and invested in a drug lord/gang banger to start his rap career.
Harrington was featured in multiple rap videos with Roland Herron, an alleged drug lord running a violent gang distributing crack and connected with murders.
That does not mean Harrington is a violent gang member, but investing in and associating with an alleged violent drug lord who is on trial for murder and dealing crack is not the best idea for an NBA player. Like James Harden, associating with gang members is a terrible way to show our youth what comes with being a professional athlete.
8 J.R. Smith
Smith has to have some kind of tattoo record somewhere. Does anyone in the NBA have more tattoos than him? At least he does not have a forehead tattoo like some gang bangers I have seen in my younger days.
He has some sort of ties to the Bloods. During his years with the Denver Nuggets he consistently replaced the letter “c” with the letter “k” in all of his tweets which is common for Bloods because of their rival Crips. When asked about this, Smith responded by simply quitting Twitter.
He has also been known to throw up gang signs during games which unfortunately seems to be very common in the NBA these days.
7 Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony has been slowly building his reputation back up over the years, but he has been involved in and with some shady situations. He grew up in Baltimore surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence and like most of us, has friends from when he was growing up.
Anthony was featured in a DVD years ago (possibly unknowingly) called “Stop Snitchin” which was part of a campaign going on in Maryland at the time to convince people to stop providing information to police when it comes to gang crime.
Yes he was young and dumb at the time and claimed he had no idea he would be in a DVD, but regardless that is not something you want to show the youth in the inner city. Gangs, violence and drugs have no place in professional sports.
Luckily it seems that “Melo” is growing up and simply wants a ring.
6 Tony Allen
Allen is well known for his tough and physical defense as well as his incredible ability to talk trash to anyone and everyone even his teammates.
After just one year in the league Allen found himself in a dumb situation he could have avoided, starting a brawl in a bar during the playoffs resulting in injuries and a man getting shot twice. Ever since that brawl there have been reported death threats on Allen and whenever he plays in Chicago there has to be extra security. He has even not attended some Chicago games claiming alleged injuries since the brawl.
There is no real evidence of gang ties from the infamous brawl, but he has been spotted throwing up what are very similar to gang signs throughout his career no matter what team he is on.
In more recent news, he allegedly punched his teammate O.J. Mayo multiple times in the face and head over a card game dispute in which Mayo owed Allen $7,500. To Allen’s credit, the reports have come out that Mayo provoked Allen for over 15 minutes which resulted in him getting beat up and still having to pay up.
5 Zach Randolph
Although Randolph may be doing well in the NBA these days, he had numerous run ins with the law earlier on and has some extremely shady friends that do not shine a good light on him. Not only has he been arrested for robbery and battery, but he also is part of a group known has the “hoop family” back in Portland.
Throughout the years, the “hoop family” has been suspect to numerous investigations involving murder, guns and drug distribution. It has also been reported that they put a price on the head of former NBA player Sebastian Telfair who was found in possession of an AK-47 and claimed he had it to protect himself from the “hoop family” and their threats.
Randolph has also made a name for himself in the NBA after shattering Rueben Patterson’s eye socket with a cheap shot while Patterson was arguing with a teammate who was allegedly part of Randolph’s group. It has also been rumored that his group has ties with the “Gangster Disciples” street gang.
4 Brandon Marshall
Marshall is known to have too many off the field issues to count and has had multiple run ins with the law for various crimes for things ranging from petty theft in college to multiple counts of domestic violence to having problems with gangs.
One incident in particular has landed Marshall so high on the list and it resulted in the accidental death of former teammate Darrent Williams.
Back in 2006, Marshall, his cousin and some other players from the Broncos went to celebrate Kenyon “K-Mart” Martin’s birthday at a night club in Denver. At some point during the evening an argument broke out between Marshall’s group and a group of men with gang affiliations. Witnesses claim Marshall and his cousin continued arguing with the men later outside the club and later that night Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of the club.
Rumors have run rampant surrounding the incident claiming that the gunmen were the men who Marshall had been arguing with and they had intended to kill Marshall. It is unfortunate regardless and seems that the victim was just in the wrong place at the worst possible time.
3 Marvin Harrison
Harrison may be the quietest athlete on this list and has not really been known for gang related activity while on the football field or growing up.
However, he was in a pretty high profile murder case right before the end of his career involving two shootings of the same victim with the second shooting resulting in a brutal, close up death of the victim.
It began at Harrison’s bar in Philadelphia called “Playmakers” when the victim (allegedly a known drug dealer) came into the bar to talk to Harrison and it turned into an argument. Harrison followed the man out of the bar and shots were fired at the victim hitting him in the hand.
A year or so later the victim was featured on “ESPN 60” and claimed on TV that Harrison had shot him and he would probably be killed for saying it. Just a few short weeks later the victim, Dwight “Pop” Dixon was gunned down in his car just a block away from Harrison’s bar. In both shootings the bullet casings matched a gun owned by Harrison and the video camera from his bar just happened to be turned off for three minutes at the time of the fatal shooting.
The case is still open and no one has been found guilty of murder yet. Harrison comes from a very rough background with multiple gang ties. I am barely scraping the surface here though and suggest you do some more research because it is really a curious and interesting case.
3. Adam "Pacman" Jones
Jones has had so many off the field issues no one is keeping count anymore. He has been mentioned as a suspect in multiple gang affiliated homicides and shootings in Atlanta along with a few other areas. Basically, when Jones causes trouble in a club or bar there seems to be a shooting at the same place almost immediately after.
He has been named by and seen with members of the International Robbing Crew of Atlanta who went on a murder spree that increased the murder rate in Atlanta by 20%.
According to an article on ESPN which documents a timeline of the off field issues Jones has made throughout his career it mentions a testimony from a member of the IRC (who would eventually be indicted for three counts of murder) that claimed he had seen and heard Jones tell another member of the IRC he would pay him to shoot the man he had just argued with and they agreed on a payment.
If any of this at all is true, it is pretty incredible that he is not in prison at this point.
2 Javaris Crittenton
Crittenton had to come in number two on our list because he is one of the dumbest NBA players ever to play the game. He played for a couple of seasons starting with the Lakers and ended his career the next year with the Wizards.
It is reported that after joining the Lakers, Crittenton decided to join the Mansfield Gangster Crips for some reason and has gone downhill ever since. The next season with the Wizards he pulled a loaded gun on Gilbert Arenas, pointed it at him and cocked it. Everyone cleared the locker room and had Caron Butler not been there to calm Crittenton down there is a solid chance Arenas is not here today.
His career was over after that and in 2011 he was charged and convicted for murdering a 22-year-old woman who was a mother of four. A couple years later he was indicted again for attempted murder charges along with various street gang activities.
Make the NBA, join a gang, get one of the longest suspensions in NBA history and start murdering. Yup, great way to live your life. He is now serving 23 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter charges in the accidental killing of Jullian Jones.
1 Aaron Hernandez
We all knew this guy would be number one on the list. Although Crittenton was very close to number one because he killed a mother of four on “accident” when trying to kill the rival gang member who robbed him.
Hernandez on the other hand simply thought he was untouchable and decided to murder multiple people over the last 3-5 years while somehow still maintaining a high level of play on the field. He had the potential to be one of the best tight ends and win multiple Super Bowls with the Patriots.
Instead he decided to stick with his criminal lifestyle and act as if he could not be touched. He has already been convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd and is on trial for the murder of two other men from a couple years ago in Boston.
It is known that he is a member of the Bristol Bloods gang and since his life sentence he has added a new tattoo boasting a five point star with the word “lifetime” above it. This is given by his gang for the life sentence he will be serving. He has also been involved in multiple prison fights and continues to show his loyalty to the gang. He threw away millions of dollars while stealing the life of three people (and possibly more…) because he had to show he was a tough gangster.
Aaron Hernandez….you are an idiot and quite possibly the dumbest and worst athlete in history....what an absolute waste of talent.