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Top 20 Worst Choices by Pro Athletes

Just because an athlete can amaze us with their abilities and entertain us with their athleticism doesn't mean that they have their act together and make good decisions. In fact, there are far too many examples of uncommon athletes making common mistakes resulting in a damaged reputation or a much harder life than you realize.

This is a list of athletes that made the worst life choices that changed the course of their lives for the worse. Not only are their acts of stupidity judged, but how far they fell is also gauged on this list. That's the main reason a convicted murderer is slotted behind a rapist and an athlete involved in a dramatic domestic violence case, as sometimes we expect some athletes to be stupid, and others, we see as saints.

While there are no saints on this list, most of these athletes had impeccable, if not great, reputations before their dalliances with stupidity. Obviously, there are a couple athletes with horrible reputations before their decisions on this list that only attracted more of the spotlight on them after their questionable life choices.

20 Michael Phelps Pulls a Bong

via hollywire.com

19 Terry Orr Steals from His Teammates

via reporternews.com

18 Tonya Harding Has Ex Take Out Nancy Kerrigan

via mrpatriotconservative.blogspot.com

17 Carl Lewis Sings National Anthem

16 Sammy Sosa Uses Extreme Topical Cream

via sportsmockery.com

15 Javaris Crittenton Brings Gun to Work 

via espn.go.com

14 Mike Richards Gets Busted with Oxycodone 

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

13 Nate Newton Gets Busted Smuggling Weed, Twice

via rickycwilliams.com

12 Jason Pierre-Paul Plays With Fireworks 

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

11 Plaxico Burress Brings Gun to the Club

via nbcnewyork.com

10 Mario Balotelli Throws Darts at Youth Footballers

via helga4.rssing.com

9 Michael Vick Sets Up Dog Fighting Ring

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

8 O.J. Steals Back Memorabilia

via metro.co.uk

7 Lenny Dykstra Starts 'The Players Club"

via businessinsider.com

6 Travis Henry Starts 'White Powder' Ring to Pay Child Support

via ocnnreport.com

5 Diego Maradona Shoots at Reporters

via theguardian.com

4 John Daly Loses $1.5 Million Gambling in Vegas

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

3 Aaron Hernandez Leads Second Life

via sportingnews.com

2 Kobe Bryant Invites Hotel Employee Into His Room

via centrictv.com

Before July of 2003, Kobe Bryant had a pristine reputation. Yes, he may have been short with the media and disrespectful to his Lakers teammates, but there was nothing dirty about his personal life. Until he checked into a spa in Colorado the night before he was to have a surgical procedure. Bryant was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a 19 year old hotel employee after she claimed he invited her into his room and then violently sodomized her. Bryant was never convicted, because his accuser failed to testify in the case, but she did sue him in civil court. Bryant settled out of court, but never admitted his guilt. However, the incident cost him his credibility, created a bigger chasm between him and Shaquille O'Neal after Bryant claimed Shaq would cheat on his lady and Kobe had to buy a massive ring for his wife to buy her forgiveness. It didn't fully work, as she filed for divorce in 2011. However, Kobe was able to convince her to take him back in 2013.

1 Ray Rice Punches His Fiancee

via nypost.com

It was a sickening video that is burnt into the minds of anyone who saw it. The video of Ray Rice punching his then fiancee, Janay Palmer, will make you gasp and sick to your stomach. It was a moment that I'm sure Rice wants back, not just for common decency because you shouldn't beat your wife, but because that punch cost him his NFL career. Rice can be seen spitting on Palmer while getting on an elevator and then smashing her with a backhand while they were on the elevator. She crumbled to the ground, unconscious and limp as Rice tried to pick her up. Rice was suspended two games until the video was released to the world and created an uproar. NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, backtracked, and upped the suspension to an indefinite one. Rice has yet to play an NFL down since his heinous actions.

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Top 20 Worst Choices by Pro Athletes