People with everything going for them, and still committing petty crimes seems to be the norm now. As for athletes, can it be blamed on the type of sport played? Some experts think so. The book Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, detailed the proclivity of young men entering the NFL to commit crimes ranging from domestic violence, assault all the way to homicide.
Take the case of former New England Patriots tight end, Aaron Hernandez, who was recently convicted of the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd. For his part in the murder of his fiance’s sister’s boyfriend, the 25-year old was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. How does a star player from a family of great athletes, who was tipped as the “greatest of them all”, lose it like that?
It’s reported that Lloyd was killed because Hernandez was paranoid about him talking to the police about a 2012 double murder. Paranoia, perceived disrespect, jealousy, envy; like mere mortals, these athletes suffer the same insecurities, emotions and impulses.
Here is a list of ten athletes going down in history for committing murder, not for their exploits in sport.
10. Rae Carruth
The former first-round draft pick out of Colorado, Carruth seemed to have it all: a sweet deal with the Carolina Panthers, a four-year, 3.7-million-dollar deal plus a signing bonus of $1.3 million and a son with his sweetheart.
After being sued because he wasn’t paying child support, Carruth conspired to kill his new girlfriend, Cherica Adams. Adams who was pregnant with his child, was shot in a drive-by shooting, ordered by Carruth. She died a month later, but the baby survived with brain damage.
Carruth fled Charlotte to Tennessee, where he was apprehended hiding in the trunk of a car, surrounded by bottles of urine, cash and a mobile phone. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in prison, and is expected to be released in October 2018.
9. Daron Oshay “Mookie” Blaylock
Daron Blaylock is a former Atlanta Hawks point guard, NBA All-Star and the Atlanta Hawks’ all-time franchise leader in three-point field goals made (1,050). Highly rated for his quick hands and playing style, everyone loved watching him play. Pearl Jam even initially named their group “Mookie Blaylock”. When they were forced to change the name, they settled on naming their debut album Ten after Blaylock’s jersey number.
In May 2013, Blaylock was involved in a head-on collision which left the driver of the other vehicle, Monica Murphy, dead. Rumors blamed it alcohol addiction based on an outstanding DUI summons in Georgia. A family member blamed it on seizures that Blaylock suffered from. In court, the prosecution pointed out that, according to doctors’ orders, Blaylock wasn’t even supposed to be driving.
In October 2014, he pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 years for vehicular homicide. He will serve three of them behind bars and the remaining as a suspended license.
8. James Butler Jr.
James Butler Jr. started his career with 18 wins and only one loss in the super middleweight division, he was on track to move on to bigger things. But when he sucker punched an opponent, after losing a fight in 2001, all he moved to was an assault charge and a four month stint at Riker’s island.
In 2004, he was arrested for the murder of his friend of ten years, Sam Kellerman. He initially pled not guilty, a stance he maintained till March 2006. Butler finally came clean, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and arson in the 2004 death of Kellerman. He was subsequently sentenced 29 years in prison.
7. Gavin Grant
The English Premier League is a hub of talented soccer players, but also home to some criminals. Some have done time for causing death by dangerous driving, fixing matches, sexual assault etc.
In 2004, Gavin Grant, a former striker for Millwall murdered Leon Labastide in a revenge style killing. It was reportedly over a robbery of drug takings, worth £ 20,000. Unfazed, Grant went on to build a football career, playing for Grays Athletic, Stevenage Borough, Wycombe Wanderers and Bradford City.
In 2007, he was cleared of a 2005 murder and it seemed like the investigation into the 2004 killing would fall through. But in 2010, he was found guilty of Labastide’s murder, and jailed for life.
6. Bertil Fox
In his prime, Fox was known as “the Arnold Schwarzenegger of St. Kitts,” needless to say, he was at the top of the bodybuilding game. He won his first medal at 18 winning the 1969 Junior Mr. Britain.
Known for his extremely heavy training, it’s no wonder he won multiple awards at the 1976 AAU, the amateur 1977 NABBA Mr. Universe and the professional NABBA Mr. Universe in 1978 and 1979. His medal haul also included wins from Mr. Olympia and the IFFBB.
In 1997, he returned to his home land of St. Kitts to open a Fox’s Gym. He became engaged to a 20 year old beauty queen, Leyoca Browne. Eight months later, he shot and killed Leyoca and her mother Violet. For the murders, he was sentenced to hang in 1998; but in 2012, the sentence was changed to life in prison.
5. Carlos Monzón
Carlos Monzón was a professional middleweight boxer who held the Undisputed World Middleweight Championship for seven years. His coordination and powerful punches saw him dubbed the 11th greatest fighter of the last 80 years by Ring magazine. He’s also listed as the second best middleweight boxer of all time after Sugar Ray Robinson.
However, his life was also plagued by accusations of domestic violence; the violence was so volatile that in 1973, he was shot by his own wife during an argument. His highly publicized affair with the model Susana Giménez, while still married, only fed the rumor mills. As he continued to attack and beat up paparazzi for reporting his affairs and as more reports of domestic violence surfaced, he began to have many run-ins with the police.
In 1988, at the resort city of Mar del Plata, he beat up his girlfriend at the time, Alicia Muñiz. He then threw her off the second-story balcony AND jumped after her! She died and he injured his shoulder. Jailed for 11 years for her murder, Monzón died in a car crash, whilst returning back to jail after a furlough.
4. Oscar Pistorius
The ‘Blade Runner’s’ story of triumph over adversity gave hope to folks everywhere. Born without lower limbs, Pistorius played many sports including tennis, rugby and water polo. On being introduced to running in 2004, he never looked back. He moved on to competing on the world stage as an amputee and against able-bodied athletes.
Winning gold at the summer Paralympics, a silver as part of the relay team at Daegu and a beautiful girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, Oscar seemed to have it all.
But on Valentine’s Day, 2013, he fatally shot and killed Reeva. He blamed the ‘accidental shooting’ on generalized anxiety disorder, the prosecution blamed it on jealousy and said the murder was premeditated. In September 2014, Pistorius was found guilty of culpable homicide and one firearm-related charge.
In October, he was sentenced to five years and was given a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for a separate reckless endangerment conviction.
3. Evangelos Goussis
Evangelos Goussis is an Australian former kickboxer who seemed to have made his way out of the troubled Melbourne gang life that he grew up in. Following a short jail term in 1989, he threw himself into training and rehabilitation. It paid off as he quickly started winning his fights. He went on to win the Australian, South Pacific and World Kickboxing Association (WKA) middleweight crowns.
But the lure of the flashy, dangerous underworld sucked him back in by 2001. In 2004, there were two murders, eight days apart, in which Goussis and his ‘associates’ were implicated in. A local underworld figure, Lewis Caine was killed in an alley. Another, Lewis Moran had been murdered in a poker room of the Brunswick Club.
When questioned, Goussis told the police that he killed Caine in self defence. He was jailed for life. These days, he spends his time mowing the lawns at the high-security unit in Barwon Prison. It gives a whole new meaning to the term; from grace to grass.
2. Sally McNeil
Sally McNeil is a female bodybuilder, who murdered her husband Ray in 1996. Both bodybuilders and ex-Marines, their marriage swung from extremes of love to hate. Ray was a Mr. Olympia competitor in 1993; Sally competed in the USA Championships, North Americans and NPC National’s. While their relationship seemed fine on the surface, but there were rumors of infidelity. One such incident led to Sally beating up a woman she accused Ray of seeing.
Sally’s physique was reportedly acquired through the use of massive doses of steroids; she admitted to using ‘some, but not a lot’. Some say this contributed to her finally snapping and blasting Ray with a shotgun on Valentine’s Day.
Twice. Once in the stomach. Once in the face.
She claimed he subjected her to years of abuse, and it was done in self-defense. But her first husband, Anthony Lowden, said otherwise. She had been arrested in 1990 for pulling a pistol on Lowden and shattering his car windows with a crowbar. Sally was jailed for 19 years, and she could get out this spring.
1. Terry Underwood
A CFL footballer, Underwood still holds school records for the most rushing yards in a career (5,010) and in a game (363) at Wagner. Athletic, well liked by everyone for his good work ethic, a sense of humour, and easy going attitude, Underwood had married his teenage sweetheart and had two kids.
He played with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and in the World Football League in Europe. Even when he couldn’t break into pro ball, he seemed to take it well and got a job. So, it was a shock when he confessed to murdering his pregnant wife while their two children slept in another room.
He later claimed the confession was obtained under severe duress and the case is further compounded by the absence of any murder weapon or blood-stained clothing. He was sentenced to 30 – 60 years in jail.
Notable Mention: Orenthal J. Simpson
Dubbed one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, a former Hall of Famer and sports announcer, managed to dodge not one, but two ‘bullets’. In 1994 his lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, was able to exonerate him of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her acquaintance Ron Goldman at their Los Angeles home.
Since then, he had numerous run-ins with the law, until he was finally arrested in 2007 for strong-arm robbery. Simpson was apparently trying to ‘retrieve his sports memorabilia’ from a guest at the Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas. But he chose to do this with a gun and a gang of goons to threaten the patron.
Arrested and found guilty of all charges, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison, with a minimum of nine years without parole.
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